Skip to content

Washington, D.C. Summer Study Program offers students experience in global, U.S. public policy

Political and legal activism in criminal justice reform, climate issues, men’s health and Latino economic advancement are the focus of summer internships for several students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University participating in the 2022 CSB and SJU Washington, D.C. Summer Study Program.

Others are learning advocacy, research and membership-building for non-profits supporting public school teachers, the air conditioning industry and Hispanic physicians.

Two students’ internships have an international focus advocating for victims of torture and promoting human rights, while two others will have a traditional internship on Capitol Hill, working in a senator’s office and for a congressional committee.

In total, 12 students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have internships through the program. All will spend the summer in Washington, a first for participants since 2019. The onset of the pandemic forced a year of remote participation in 2020 and another with a split set of experiences in 2021.

The program, now in its 43rd year, provides opportunities to work in a congressional office, a government agency, a nonprofit organization or with a public affairs group, learning and working in a community. The students apply for their internship based on interest and receive academic credit. In addition to work experience and completion of coursework, CSB and SJU faculty travel to Washington to conduct seminars and arrange supplemental meetings with alumnae/i and other professionals.

Dr. Phil Kronebusch and Dr. Jim Read, political science professors, are directing the program this year. It is coordinated by Sheila Hellermann, coordinator of the Political Science Department.

Participants in the CSB and SJU 2022 Washington, D.C. Summer Study Program include: (back row) Evan Mattson, Sam Rengo, Gunnar Laughlin, Jose Reynoso, Jack Mehus, Julia Krystofiak and Claire Boettcher; (front row) Fredi Ponce Parra, Nayeli Carreno, Grace Terlinden, Sydney Walker and Morgan Van Beck.

This year’s students are:

  • Claire Boettcher, a CSB senior from Duluth, Minnesota, double majoring in history and political science, is interning at The Center for Victims of Torture. Boettcher is working to advance the Center’s national policy agenda on police violence and criminal legal system reform, as well as advancing the U.N. Voluntary Fund for victims of torture, through research and stakeholder engagement
  • Nayeli Carreno, a CSB senior from Chicago, Illinois, majoring in global business leadership, is a corporate development intern with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Carreno will help increase revenue growth and development of long-term and collaborative partnerships in corporate America for LULAC, which administers community programs in economic empowerment, housing, health, public policy and technology for the Latino population in the United States.
  • Julia Krystofiak, a CSB senior from Mounds View, Minnesota, majoring in political science, is a global services intern for the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Krystofiak is a data analytics minor who will work on gap analysis projects and research to identify opportunities in the Latin American market. AHRI represents manufacturers from all over the world and is a resource for industry shipment data, education and workforce information, and advocate for energy efficiency and climate change policy internationally.
  • Gunnar Laughlin, an SJU senior from Golden Valley, Minnesota, majoring in political science, will be a climate communications intern with MN350, a nonprofit that uses policy advocacy, events, and political engagement to change the rules of government and corporate behavior. Laughlin will work on climate issues and prepare for the coming midterm elections.
  • Evan Mattson, an SJU junior from Aurora, Minnesota, majoring in political science, is interning at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) working with the Paraprofessionals and School-related Personnel Department. AFT advocates for fairness, democracy and economic opportunity as well as high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, families and local communities. Mattson will focus on community engagement, organizing and political activism on behalf of school support staff.
  • Jack Mehus, an SJU senior from Fargo, North Dakota, double majoring in psychology and political science, is interning for S. Senator John Hoeven (R-North Dakota). Mehus will research issues and participate in legislative tracking, communications and constituent services.
  • Fredi Ponce Parra, an SJU junior from Minneapolis, Minnesota, majoring in political science, is a policy and legislature intern at LULAC. He will work on legislative research, connect with congressional offices, and assist with writing and updating policy fact sheets.
  • Samuel Rengo, an SJU senior from Esko, Minnesota, double majoring in history and political science, is interning with Men’s Health Network, a national nonprofit that promotes the health needs and overall well-being of men, boys and their families. He will work on outreach, communication, research and legislative advocacy.
  • José Reynoso, an SJU junior from Cicero, Illinois, majoring in political science, is interning with the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) in programming and communications. NHMA is a non-profit dedicated to empowering Hispanic physicians to be leaders who will help eliminate health disparities and improve the health of Hispanics.
  • Grace Terlinden, a CSB senior from Elk River, Minnesota, double majoring in English and political science, is interning at Take Back the Night, which provides support to survivors of sexual assault and works to end sexual violence for all people around the world. Terlinden will raise awareness about campus rape, support survivors, form more chapters and expand its events.
  • Morgan Van Beck, a CSB junior from Sartell, Minnesota, double majoring in Hispanic studies and political science, is interning at the Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting human rights and supporting communities and activists who face threats and violence in Guatemala. GHRC documents and denounces abuses, educates the international community and advocates for policies that foster peace and justice. Van Beck will research affidavits for political asylum cases, edit GHRC publications and plan and organize events.
  • Sydney Walker, a CSB senior from Watertown, South Dakota, majoring in political science, is interning with the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The select committee studies all matters pertaining to problems and opportunities of Indigenous persons in the U.S., including but not limited to land management and trust responsibilities, education, health, special services and loan programs and claims against the government.