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My Internship in State Government

Harley Bender ’22 hangs outside Comenius Hall on Moravian's Campus.

By Harley Bender ’22

Political Science. English. Legal Studies. Business. On every college application I submitted, I checked off a different field of study. At that point in my life, I only knew that I had a strong desire to make an impact on my community.

The summer before I would begin my first year at Moravian, I was feeling a bit lost and unsure of what path to pursue when one of my teachers told me that the only way to truly know how I wanted to spend my time is through experience.

Not long after that conversation, I sent an email to State Representative Marcia Hahn, and nervously inquired about whether she would consider taking me as an intern. Initially, I was told that her office did not often take interns, and when they did those interns were typically rising seniors in college. She granted me an interview anyway—a decision I will be forever grateful for.

On my very first day working for Representative Hahn, I traveled with her to the Capitol building in Harrisburg. Three important things happened that day: I had the opportunity to shake hands with and get to know more politicians than I had ever met in my life, I learned that cornhole is not the sport for me after hitting State Senator Scavello (who happened to be my teammate) with a beanbag, and I realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

While I knew from my first glimpse of the beautiful Pennsylvania State Capitol building that I wanted to work there, it was the people I met that day that made me truly realize I wanted to pursue a career in politics.

I had always thought of politicians as the corrupt, uncaring individuals that political advertisements portray them to be. When I spoke to some in person, I discovered this was not the case. Each politician I met at the Capitol was there because they cared deeply for the people they had the honor of representing.

I found this sentiment reaffirmed daily as I spent three summers, several winters, and many Fridays interning in Hahn’s district office. She taught me that working in politics means you can expect people to disagree with you, long hours, and to be approached by constituents about their concerns even in the middle of a meal out with your family. She also taught me that every second of dealing with these issues is worth it once you get to see that a bill you wrote or voted on improved someone’s life.

In the district office, I had the joy of assisting in writing grant support letters to ensure impactful community organizations got the funding they needed. Additionally, I explained complicated legislation to constituents and helped people who were struggling to apply for government aid programs. I found that even a simple phone conversation with a constituent could result in a monumental change in someone's life.

Interning for State Representative Hahn was a transformative experience in my life. It gave me the opportunity to live my dream of helping my community every day while simultaneously discovering my passion for politics. This November, my mentor is retiring from her position in government in the 138th district of Pennsylvania and a new elected official will take her place.

Meanwhile at Moravian, I continuously seek ways to further my passion. By applying what I learned, taking on opportunities for new experiences, and continuing to develop my skill set, I aim to one day better my community by also becoming an elected official.

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