Leadership and the American Presidency
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Margaret O'Brien

Major: Psychology, Criminology
Minor: French
Hometown: Montgomery, NJ

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this experience through my experience in Greek Life. I was able to attend the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values Conference in February, in which my internship program was there promoting their program.

Our classroom was Washington, D.C., and we were able to have experiences across the entire city.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This program was a phenomenal experience not only to gain relevant work experience in my field and further my leadership journey. Through this program, I interned at the National Sheriffs' Association while attending classes at George Mason University. My program was sponsored by the Fund for American Studies and the Ronald Regan Presidential Institute and Foundation, providing me resources and networking connections across the world. Our classroom was Washington, D.C., and we were able to have experiences across the entire city. Through interactions with museums, Congressmen, former Presidential Cabinet Members, the White House Fellows, and other individuals, we were able to gain valuable insight to navigating the nation’s capital and to improving our own leadership and skills.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Through my program, I was able to learn in a variety of situations. Through my class, I was able to learn in a formal setting regarding improving leadership and looking at the leadership of the Nation's greatest leaders. Through my job, I was able to gain real world insight to the concepts I learn in class. As a criminology major, I have studied interactions between the law, law enforcement, and the general public. Through my internship, I was able to work and see how those careful interactions are crafted, and how to maintain them. I partook in overseeing communication of all types being that were sent to Congressmen, our shareholders, and to the media. This hands-on experience was invaluable and has allowed me to enhance the material I learn while at Penn State.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Following my education at Penn State, I hope to attend law school focusing in business and contract law. I hope to work for an international company in addressing legal issues that come along with having locations throughout the world and clients in various countries and of various nationalities. This experience in D.C., has allowed me to see the interworking of our government's legal process and how Congress operates. By having this knowledge, my understanding of the complexity of law has been bettered. I also was able to gain a better understanding of law school and what I can do with that degree, through interacting with individuals who have experienced this and by seeing a law class.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely recommend this experience to others. This program had such a diverse group of students involved in a diverse range of careers and fields. I was able to gain experience that would not have been available outside of this program.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows has prepared me for this experience because it has provided me with a strong educational background. Having been a leader at Penn State, I entered this past summer with the knowledge and skills that I needed to succeed. My advanced coursework as a Paterno Fellow has also allowed me to gain valuable knowledge regarding time management and having an intense schedule. Being able to discuss my classwork at Penn State has also given me a talking point that exhibits the skills and experiences that I have had at Penn State.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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