Empowering Women through Politics
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008
When Rachel Johnson ’10 heard Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand speak at her high school, the Emma Willard School (Troy, N.Y.), she had no idea that she would one day earn an internship working for Gillibrand, herself an alum of Emma Willard. Johnson, who approached the congresswoman at an event in Lake George earlier this year, impressed her so much that she was offered a summer internship on the spot. Gillibrand is serving her first term as U.S. Representative to New York’s 20th Congressional District. Previous to this appointment, she served as Special Counsel to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Later, she joined one of the country’s premier law firms and worked on a wide range of legal and policy related issues, including extensive work on behalf of abused women and their children. “Congresswoman Gillibrand is a great role model,” says Johnson. “She is a very hard worker, intelligent and very easy to talk to. The high school we went to was an all-girls school, which instilled in us the idea that the sky is the limit and helped us to develop leadership qualities that allow us to shape the world around us. She is a great example of that type of educational philosophy.” As an intern, Johnson works directly with the hundreds of constituents who contact the congresswoman about issues ranging from the war in Iraq to local community concerns. She also is responsible for giving visitors tours of the capitol. “The internship has been an amazing experience and has helped me become a lot more aware and invested in many different aspects of government and politics. It feels good to be so involved in helping people from my district, and I really enjoy learning so much about our nation’s capitol and then being able to share that with other people.” A history major and law and society minor, Johnson is a member of the Heron's swimming team as well as the HWS equestrian team. She plans to attend law school after graduation and is excited by many different career options.