Taking REL to Washington: A student’s experience on Capitol Hill

The capitol building at Washington D.C.

Photo by Kyle Mills on Unsplash

Lots of people talk about the US Congress and what happens there. But much of the work in the offices of members of Congress occurs out of sight of the headlines and commentary. With a summer internship on Capitol Hill, Maddie Brodbeck, a senior REL and Political Science major from York, Pennsylvania, not only saw first-hand the work that goes on there but also contributed to the successful functioning of one congressional office, making use of skills she
developed while majoring in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama.

Photo of Maddie Brodbeck standing on a balcony
Maddie Brodbeck, UA Class of 23

Maddie spent her summer interning in the office of a representative from Pennsylvania. She answered phone calls from constituents, formulated responses to them, observed legislative meetings, and relayed information between the member of Congress and constituents. Thus, she played a significant role in representing the district and the Pennsylvania congressman she was assisting.

After her hard work and contributions in Washington, DC, Maddie, who graduates from UA in December, was offered a job as a congressional aide post-graduation, working in the same office. With her interests in public policy and political community organization, she is looking forward to jumpstarting her career by making an impact on the Hill.

But what does this have to do with a degree in Religious Studies?

Well, Maddie reports that the skills she has learned in REL helped her with on-the-spot analysis in the phone conversations and meetings. Having honed the ability to understand different peoples’ backgrounds and to formulate appropriate responses, she made a direct, positive impact in that office during her internship, and those skills will contribute to her success in her full-time job there very soon. Different representations of people and ideas bombarded her, but she employed the tools she has developed in her time in Religious Studies to organize and
respond to those challenges.

This post is the first in a series that highlights the range of accomplishments that students in Religious Studies achieve while at the Capstone and in their lives after graduation. We all hear questions like, “What are you going to do with a Religious Studies degree?” As this series makes clear, the skills that students develop in Religious Studies, including critical thinking, interacting with diverse viewpoints, social analysis, and the ability to communicate to multiple audiences, contribute to a broad range of activities and careers.