Rebecca Truxal worked as the Duane E. Smith Memorial Intern Fellow at the Center’s office in Calabasas, California, during the summer of 2008. She is a We the People alumna from Lake Havasu High School in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Truxal continues to be involved with We the People as the Arizona State Alumni Representative. She attends Arizona State University where she is majoring in Secondary Education.
After completing the We the People program in high school, I was certainly a fan of the program. When I went to college, I began to volunteer with We the People students and it changed my life. I switched majors from History to Secondary Education with the intent that I would implement We the People in my own classroom.
I was helping a teacher with her classroom simulated congressional hearings and she told me that the Center offers summer internships. I remember applying and being sick with nervousness. However, as it turned out, I had no reason to be nervous.
The staff at the Calabasas office welcomed me and did everything possible to ensure the internship was everything I wanted it to be. I was able to work on a variety of projects, including expanding the alumni network, working with teachers at the National Academy, gathering data for the Level 3 companion web-book, and analyzing the effect of gender differences on We the People outcomes. Each of these opportunities has renewed my excitement about the We the People program and I leave California looking forward to working with the Center in the future.
Laura Vlieg was chosen as the Duane E. Smith Memorial Intern Fellow for the Center’s Washington, D.C., office for the summer of 2008. Vlieg graduated from East Kentwood High School and was a member of her school's We the People class in 2005-06. She attends Loyola University of Chicago where she is majoring in Political Science and International Studies.
As a result of volunteering for the first time in a citizenship classroom for inner-city Chicago immigrants last year, and having a wonderful experience with We the People, I visited the Center's website hoping to find some way to become more involved with spreading civic education across the country and around the world. On the website, I stumbled upon the listing for the Duane E. Smith Memorial Intern Fellowship. I applied and was chosen as the intern for the Center’s Washington, D.C., office.
Looking back on my experience this summer, the Center truly offered me a life-changing opportunity which was inspirational, to say the least. During my internship, I did research for the We the People Initiative for High Need Students, compiled images for a brochure showcasing the Center’s many translated texts, worked on the Israel and West Bank/Gaza Reconciliation Proposal, and researched recent studies by prominent scholars in civic education.
I attended the Representative Democracy in America seminar and I spoke on behalf of alumni at both the annual We the People coordinator conference and at the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation at Georgetown University. I also went to several congressional hearings on Capitol Hill and to the Supreme Court session during which the decision was handed down for the historic Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller. I also met with Senator Debbie Stabenow from my home state of Michigan.