Student view:

Jacob Santangelo: 
Interning at the Office of Presidential Correspondence

Aug. 2, 2013

Jacob Santangelo is a senior majoring in political science and prelaw who has been interning this summer in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence in Washington, D.C.

Walking onto the South Lawn of the White House earlier this summer, my fellow interns and I gazed speechlessly toward one of the buildings that has captivated and inspired the American public for more than 200 years. Confronted with such a view—a view with so much history—even the most eloquent of people lose their way with words. It was with this backdrop that I was tasked to do one of the coolest things I’ve done as a White House intern: volunteer on the South Lawn on the 4th of July.

I had been interning in the Office of Presidential Correspondence (OPC) for some time before that day. Using skills honed in classes at MSU and various internships, I have spent the summer working with the OPC to assist President Obama in his efforts to listen, understand, and respond to the American people through correspondence. Every day, President Obama reads 10 letters from the public to hear about their issues and concerns.

The President hosted military families on the 4th of July to honor their contributions to the country. After arriving and taking a quick look around the South Lawn, the interns started volunteering. The families arrived and soon after people began exploring and children began playing as the military band performed patriotic songs that built up the 4th of July atmosphere.

As I was serving ice cream, a young guest walked up to me eagerly asking for a chocolate ice cream bar. When I was reaching for it the guest mentioned how his family had other plans for the 4th of July until they received an email inviting them to the White House. As I heard this, I thought about how one email could change someone’s life, such as it had for me when I was accepted into the White House Internship Program. The White House Internship Program has led to friendships and memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Shortly after my encounter with the young guest, President Obama came outside with the First Lady to thank the military families. It was my first time ever seeing the President in person. Seeing the President has been a highlight, but the work we have been able accomplish is also incredibly rewarding.

The White House Internship Program also does a wonderful job of setting up interns with volunteer opportunities in the local area and giving interns the chance to learn more about different careers through Professional Interest Groups, one of which I have had the opportunity to lead.

As the night approached, the folks on the South Lawn all had a fun time, enjoying the fireworks that painted the sky of Washington, D.C.