White House interns have taken on a variety of assignments this summer, from conducting research, managing incoming inquiries, attending meetings and writing memos, to bigger tasks such as staffing events. Interns’ responsibilities vary by department, but they all attend weekly events, which include an educational speaker series and small group meetings set up to teach them about different policy aspects within the Executive Office of the President.
As the summertime session of the White House Internship Program under President Donald J. Trump comes to a close on Friday, Luke Tortora of Manalapan, New Jersey, wrote one of the last blog entries chronicling the journey. He wrote that this summer’s interns were afforded the unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills in a prestigious, hands-on program designed to mentor and cultivate young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office, and prepare them for future public service opportunities.
Posted on the government’s website, the Intern Series has been giving the public a glimpse of what it’s like to work in the White House as an intern in the interns’ own words.
Tortora’s blog entry is titled, “Gifted Hands.” He writes:
Few individuals are as inspiring, intelligent, and compassionate as the current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Benjamin Carson.
As part of the Summer 2017 White House Internship Program Speaker Series, Secretary Carson spoke to our intern class, providing insight into his role leading HUD and responding sincerely to our questions.
During his talk, Secretary Carson focused his thoughts around ways to empower underprivileged populations in the United States. Woven into this commentary was Secretary Carson’s own, riveting story of his emergence from poverty to his position as a renowned neurosurgeon; he shared thoughts about the pathway to prosperity in the United States, and reflected with empathy about the obstacles impoverished Americans face in that pursuit.
Much of the discussion explored the “web” of factors contributing to American poverty: Secretary Carson touched on the issues of generational poverty and learned helplessness, of incarceration, of racial disparities, and especially of housing conditions.
We also explored HUD initiatives under Secretary Carson’s leadership aimed at tackling this “web,” such as public-private partnerships, which foster efficiency and accountability in housing projects, and which create involvement and employment in the communities served. Related initiatives, like repurposing vacant buildings, can create opportunities for youth mentorship and decrease crime. Secretary Carson stressed the importance of giving Americans a ladder to prosperity and unlocking their potential.
Secretary Carson’s speech truly resonated with me and inspired me to continue work as a servant leader. In West Philadelphia, where I have the pleasure of working with high school students in an educational and mentorship program, I can see the network of factors that serve to disenfranchise inner city communities, but also the enormous potential that community partnerships can unleash. It was incredible to hear so many of the same sentiments and themes echoed by the Secretary, and the experience further strengthened my passion for service.
Thanks to the White House Internship Program, I was able to see how Secretary Carson, in his new role, is continuing to heal with his gifted hands. I came away from this talk more confident than ever in this Administration’s commitment to reviving communities, and to ensuring the American Dream for all.
Tortora is a rising junior studying Health and Societies and Healthcare Management at the University of Pennsylvania.