Student Spotlight: Taylor Johnson Reflects on Star Fellowship

Taylor Johnson

Taylor Johnson, Political Science '15, with Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich

"I was very excited to be accepted into the Walmart Running Start Star Fellowship program for the Fall semester after graduation (Fall 2015). Running Start brings seven young women to Washington, DC, each semester to intern for a female member of congress while bringing various speakers to our Friday seminars to educate us and expand our networks. The educational and networking aspect of Running Start was invaluable and taught me many job finding skills that I couldn't have learned anywhere else. Running Start puts you in touch with CEO's, Chiefs of Staff, Lobbyists, and Executive Branch personnel.  

During my time interning for the office of Congresswoman Mimi Walters, I was able to really absorb myself in the legislative process and put all those political science classes I took to use. No amount of class time, however, can prepare you for the crazy days on Capitol Hill. While the majority of your job while interning is to deal with constituents, you are also present for the meetings, briefings, and hearings that really shape how legislation is made. You learn how important it is to listen to your constituents when voting on controversial bills and respecting the demographics that reside in your district. While you are taught that, in theory, bipartisan politics should be a more common occurrence, you see first-hand the gridlock of this congress.

The highlights of my fellowship with Running Start were, of course, meeting former Speaker of the House John Boehner, Governor of Ohio and presidential candidate John Kasich, and getting to personally know Congresswoman Mimi Walters. If you ever feel homesick in DC, just walk into the representative of your district and you will feel like you are right back in California. Interning on Capitol Hill taught me that each congressional office acts as its own corporation; that networking and making friendships are everything, and the 9-5 work day is non-existent when you are a public servant.

I have used the foundation of the Running Start Fellowship to begin my career in D.C. I am currently working as a Staff Assistant to Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the former (and first female) chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and first Hispanic woman ever elected to Congress. The days are long and the work is tough but there is nowhere else I would rather be. I would like to eventually go back to school to complete my Master’s degree. While I enjoy the legislative process, there will always be a part of me that loves the excitement of a campaign. Ideally, I would gain experience in both legislative and campaign issues and bring that experience back to the classroom as a professor in one of our many great California State Universities."

For more information on Running Start Fellowships:

Political Statements is the official newsletter of the Political Science Department at California State University, Chico.

With around 1,000 total majors, Political Science is one of the largest departments at Chico State. Students choose courses from a rich curriculum, providing close student-faculty contact in each of the following majors of study: general political science, legal studies, criminal justice, international relations, and public administration. The department also offers a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in Political Science.

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