MHC's Silver '09 Lands White House Internship

Posted: May 13, 2009

The weeks leading up to commencement are always a busy time for graduating seniors, but Moriah Silver may be the only member of the class of 2009 who has to start her summer internship--in Washington, D.C.--before she graduates on May 24.

And that internship isn't at just any old address in D.C.; Silver is headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"I'm so excited!" she said, just hours after learning she'd been assigned to the Office of the Vice President in the White House. Silver will work for Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joseph Biden, on a national Violence Against Women Prevention program. Her first day on the job will be Friday, May 22.

"I'll be flying to Washington for just the day, literally, and then come back here for commencement," she said. "Then I'll fly back to D.C. to be at work on Monday."

Silver, who was named a Truman Scholar during her junior year, learned of the internship through the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. She is among a handful of students selected from some 3,000 applicants for the coveted White House positions.

"This was one of those things you just reach for, and I applied for it on a whim," she said. But just two weeks after submitting her application, she received a phone call from Moises (Moe) Vela, Biden's director of administration. And Vela wanted to interview Silver on the spot.

"It was the shortest interview I've ever had in my life--maybe ten minutes at the most," she said, laughing. "It was such an honor (to be called), that I thought even if I didn't get the job, this was pretty impressive."

Within just a few more days, Silver learned she had been selected for the job. Her experience puts the gender studies major in good stead for the summer's challenges: She is a certified rape crisis counselor and worked at the women's crisis center at UMass for three years. She also founded the MHC chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, organized the College's Global AIDS Awareness Week, and has spent time in Tanzania working at an HIV/AIDS hospice. Last year she spent a semester abroad studying and working in Uganda.

Although the internship is unpaid, the Truman Foundation will provide a stipend and cover the costs of housing and travel. Silver was among 65 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities honored in 2008 for their leadership potential, their intellectual ability, and their potential to make a difference in the world.

After she completes her White House internship August 15, the Newton, Massachusetts, resident will return to Uganda, where she's accepted a two-year position as a gender officer with a program designed to prevent violence against women. Following that time, she plans to pursue joint degrees in law and public health. For now she's excited to be in a position to develop and influence public policy.

"I've been told the interns are treated like junior staffers," she said. "This is definitely not the kind of internship where you're the one who has to go get the coffee."

She points to a quote from President Barack Obama on the White House Web page for its internship program as a source of inspiration.

"This program will mentor and cultivate young leaders of today and tomorrow and I'm proud that they will have this opportunity to serve," Obama said. "I look forward to working with those selected to participate and I want to commend all who apply for their desire to help through public service to forge a brighter future for our country."

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