CENTRAL — During a typical semester, Madison Ramey conducts tours of the Southern Wesleyan University campus as a presidential ambassador; this past spring, she was conducting tours through the United States Capitol Building.
That was one of Ramey’s routine jobs while she interned at the office of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.). She was in Washington, D.C. as part of CCCU’s American Studies Program (ASP), which connects students and their faith to the institutions and leaders who are impacting issues in public policy and strategic communication.
Coming to Washington was a huge step for Ramey, a senior at Southern Wesleyan University majoring in Social Science with a concentration in Law and Public Policy and a minor in History.
“It was very eye opening for me, because that was the first experience I ever had being out of the South, out of a culture where everyone agrees with my views. My roommates had very different political views than I did, and that was a shock to my system. I’m a very opinionated person when it comes to politics. I learned that you can be friends with people who have different views than you do about politics,” Ramey said. “Social media, news media paint politics as so contentious and negative, but then you sit down and have a conversation with Students enrolled in ASP must find their own internships, and Ramey feels fortunate that she was hired to intern in the office of Sen. Scott, whom she admires.
But her first days on the job weren’t what she expected.
“Our office moved the first week I was there. I came there the first day of my internship and there were boxes everywhere. I didn’t learn much because we were just packing boxes and moving stuff. We moved from the seventh floor to the first floor. Sen. Scott has been there a while, so he had more of a choice,” Ramey said. “The office we were in, Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) is in now.”
For Ramey, ASP and her work in Sen. Scott’s office provided a wealth of experience as she collaborated with Sen. Scott’s staff, seeing firsthand the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Ramey says the classes are experientially rich, digging deeply into subjects such as Christian political engagement and public policy. She would attend committee hearings, seeing Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others. For one class, they met with the president of Trinity Forum and learned about balancing faith with politics. There were also hands-on experiences in writing policy recommendations, something a house or senate staffer routinely engages in.
“I had to do background research on my policy issue, studying unaccompanied alien children. Then I had to analyze the different stakeholders in the policy issue and make a recommendation based on that, trying to learn how to take all the sides of the issue and create a solution everyone will be able to vote for, not just one side or the other,” Ramey said, adding that the assignment helped her to learn the art of compromise.
“I realized that the senator is only one person. There’s an entire team of brilliant minds that work behind him. They do a lot of the groundwork,” Ramey said. “Our public policy class got to go to Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) office. I was able to meet Sen. Feinstein personally on my way from my office to the Capitol building on a separate occasion, but my class had the opportunity to sit down with her advisor for immigration issues because we were studying immigration policy issues,” Ramey said.
She also had opportunities to meet Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Ted Cruz (RTex.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), whose office was across from Scott’s.
Ramey says she would like to work with nonprofits, but is open about future directions wherever the Lord may lead, maybe even on “The Hill.”
Reach Ed Welsh at 864-644-5382.