The Catholic University of America

St. Ives Summer Interns Got a Taste of the Real World

The fine-print details of climate change issues, immigration bills and health care legislation do not fill up the workdays of most twenty-somethings, unless they happen to be employed on Capitol Hill. But for six CUA law students, the summer of 2009 offered daily immersion in those and other public policy concerns, and left them with a new respect and appreciation for the complexity of some of the leading issues of the day.

Anthony Vuono Cate Cravath

The six students in question were chosen in early May by Catholic University's Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture as 2009 St. Ives Summer Honors Interns, an honor that leads to a summer internship in the legislative affairs office of Catholic Charities USA, as well as two other locations this year.

Students have an opportunity to enhance their résumés while gaining valuable experience in legal research, writing, and federal and state legislative processes. They work under the close supervision of seasoned legislative affairs analysts and attorneys, and enjoy the rare opportunity to do original research on an array of fascinating public policy issues relating to social justice and welfare.

The six-week unpaid internship at Catholic Charities USA is located in Alexandria, Va., and began with a day of skills training and orientation at the Columbus School of Law led by Professor William Wagner, director of the Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture.

One of the students, 3L Anthony Vuono, spent his time at Catholic Charities producing a detailed legal memorandum on draft green jobs and climate change bills in the 111th Congress. He summarized low-income, energy efficiency, and cap-and-trade provisions of the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (the "stimulus") and the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act. Vuono counseled his supervisors as to how those potential statutes would positively or negatively affect the central mission of Catholic Charities to reduce poverty in America.

The reality of interns doing legal work that benefits so many people over the United States was unexpected and immensely rewarding.

"I am still amazed that in some small way I helped Catholic Charities advocate for the most economically vulnerable people in American society," said Vuono. "I really had to think through and reflect on how certain bills and laws affected low-income individuals and families."

Elizabeth Bolyard Steve Mairella

The level of detail that the CUA law interns were expected to master may have surpassed that of some members of Congress. Vuono personally read through hundreds of pages about global warming, climate change, and green jobs bills that are circulating in the current Congress.

"Unfortunately, many of our own representatives do not even read [the proposed bills] much less know what they exactly contain," Vuono observed.

Each of the four CUA law school interns at Catholic Charities was assigned a special portfolio for the summer. In addition to Vuono's work on green jobs and climate change bills, 2L Cate Cravath researched and wrote about health care and housing legislation; 3L Elizabeth Bolyard researched immigration issues; and 2L Steve Mairella concentrated on economic and grant-related assignments.

All approached their internships with the goal of helping Catholic Charities remain true to the mission of the Roman Catholic Church with respect to the poor, immigrants, and other subjects of social teaching.

Trevor Anderson Stephanie Adams

In addition to the four students who were placed at Catholic Charities over the summer, the St. Ives program also steered 3L Stephanie Adams and 2L Trevor Anderson to responsible and prestigious internships with The Friends Committee on National Legislation and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of General Counsel, respectively.