February 06, 2008
As a political science major, Brad Middleton '08 considered himself reasonably well informed about current events and government; however, working in Washington D.C. for four months gave him new insight into the legislative process. ?This semester deepened my interest in politics,? the Rock Falls, Illinois native says.
From attending classes, hearings, or briefings to listening to oral arguments of the Supreme Court, Middleton says his semester in Wash. D.C. was an amazing learning experience. ?There?s no better way to learn about the government than seeing it firsthand. During the semester, I responded to constituent letters, and gave tours of the Capitol. I hope the future holds an opportunity to do it again.?
The center of government and politics, Knox College?s Washington D.C. semester provides students with an introduction to what is going on around the Hill and the nation?s capitol. Middleton recalls being in the capitol the day after the 2006 elections. ?We watched the television. Donald Rumsfeld was resigning as Defense Secretary from the Oval Office, and that night, I was in the west wing looking in the oval office. That boggled my mind,? he says.
A self-described news junkie, Middleton says his eventual goal is to run and hold political office. ?It has always been political science,? he affirms.
His path started before coming to Knox and serving on its Student Senate, where he now holds the office of President. He was penned the kid most likely to become President in elementary school. In first grade he was elected class president. For his fifth grade career fair assignment, he designed a booth draped in American flags, and examples of politicians. ?I had anywhere from judge, congressman, state legislators to governor, and a description of the average day of the politician,? he laughs. ?There is no average day for a politician. It?s not an 8 to 4 kind of job.?
Middleton has worked now for three members of congress. ?I have seen them do their jobs, and I have been on the phone with constituents who say the congressman really helped them. That really makes you feel good at the end of the day to get a call like that ? Granted not all calls are like that.?
While working for Senator Dick Durbin, Middleton says he drafted letters to constituents, researched for the staff, attended briefings and committee hearings, and gave tours of the Capitol. ?Through out the semester, I was also able to see and listen to some of the most influential people in our government.? He also attended post election celebrations in the 2006 election where House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was named Speaker of the House. ?You wouldn?t be able to have an experience like that anywhere else at any other time,? he says.
When Middleton came to Knox he says he was the shy, hide in the corner kind of kid.
He credits Knox?s relationship with the Washington program as one of the reasons why he came to Knox. ?I looked at other schools, but when I came to visit Knox, I left knowing that Knox was for me. It just felt like this was a place where I could be involved and fit in and achieve things I sought to achieve in my college years. Knox has helped me get ready for the rest of my life professionally.?
Middleton has applied for the Illinois Legislative Staff internship program through the University of Illinois, Springfield. He also wants to get back to Washington D.C. and get a job on the hill. ?That is what I really want to do, and eventually go to law school.?