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Last fall Sheila Willamowski, a senior dual major in political science and criminal justice from Lima, Ohio, spent the quarter as an intern in the office of U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Internships are a great way for ONU students to explore career options, gain experience and create a network of contacts in their chosen field. Willamowski is one of the few to experience the inner workings of the nation’s legislative branch.
“The internship with Boehner was especially interesting since he has been in the public’s eye so much recently with the passing of the health care legislation,” she said.
Willamowski is the daughter of two ONU law graduates. Her father is John R. Willamowski, JD ’85, currently judge of the Ohio Third District Court of Appeals and five-term member of the Ohio House of Representatives. Her mother is Mona Willamowski, JD ’85, a family law attorney in Lima and current chairwoman of the Allen County Republican Party. Consequently, she grew up with a unique understanding of the legal and political systems.
As a Congressional intern, Willamowski had access to portions of the Capitol that tourists never see. “With my Cap-ID card I was able to go many places in the Capitol building. I was also lucky to have been granted access to ‘Dome tours’ wherein I was able to climb up to the top of the Capitol building overlooking the National Mall, which is usually reserved for only the high members of Congress and their guests,” she said.
She also had experiences few interns can expect, like serendipitously passing Vice President Joe Biden in the corridor, being on the House Floor for the historic vote on the health care bill, escorting the governor of the People’s Bank of China to a luncheon, working at the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee Headquarters, and showing up to work with e-mail updates such as, "You have a West Wing White House tour scheduled for today."
She was also amused by the standing that accompanied her internship. “When else am I going to have a letter written by the U.S. House Minority Leader in my hand, walk into all the Ohio Republican House members' offices and ask them to stop what they are doing and sign it, because what I’m doing is more important?” laughed Willamowski.
Following graduation, Willamowski will be attending law school and hopes to one day return to D.C. to litigate on behalf of constitutional rights.