WCC student heads to Washington, D.C.

Published on Apr 4, 2013 2:02pm by Janet Hawkins,

Student veteran Leland Dawson to intern for Sen. Levin this summer

When former U.S. Marine and WCC student Leland Dawson served in Japan and Iraq, he carried out military policies handed down from Congress and the White House. This summer, he will gain insight into how those and other policies are shaped when he interns for the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.

Dawson goes to Washington on July 8 for a five-week internship that Jason Morgan, director of government relations at WCC, said will be more challenging and exciting than he ever imagined.

“When you intern in Washington, it’s a short but intense experience,” said Morgan, who worked full time for U.S. Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak. “You’re expected to pick up and learn things very quickly. Lee will learn how the Senate works. He’ll learn about the politics of Washington. And he’ll learn how to fit it all into a short workday. Which is why they only take people they think will be fast learners.”

Morgan said that Dawson could expect to help write memos for the senator, research and attend committee hearings, and brief staff on what happens at those meetings. He may also write event memos to help prepare the senator for meetings and events within Michigan.

Hard work and leadership made him a standout

When he is not in class, Dawson works part time as an admissions clerk in the WCC Veterans Center. He also serves as president of the WCC Student Veterans Club and as vice president of fellowship and service for WCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter.

“I’m certain that Sen. Levin’s office looked at his application and his background and found him to be a perfect candidate for an internship,” said Morgan.

Though he has been in military bases in Asia and the Middle East, this is Dawson’s first trip to Washington, D.C. He expects to get a sample of university life while there, since it is likely he will stay in a dorm at George Washington University.

“I’m going there to learn as much as I can about the government. And I’ll look at it from a veteran’s standpoint, since Sen. Levin is Senate Armed Services Committee chair,” said Dawson, who looks forward to being a tourist on the weekends.

New connections helped make it possible

Dawson graduates from WCC in May with a liberal arts transfer associate in arts degree, and is interested in furthering his studies in economics or law. He has already been accepted to the University of Michigan. However, there are a few other colleges he has yet to hear from, Columbia and Harvard universities among them.

“A big portion of interning in Washington is making connections, with the staff, with other offices, and with other interns on the Hill,” said Morgan. “A lot of interns get hired immediately after their internship. It opens a lot of doors for you.”

Morgan attributes Dawson’s opportunity to intern with the senator to connections made earlier this year.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Sen. Levin’s office since President Bellanca’s visit there in February,” he said. “They’ve been in touch with us weekly about different issues that we will be dealing with here at the College and about different opportunities that they have found for us to get involved with.”