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Valuable internships highlight summer months for USD students

VERMILLION, S.D. -- University of South Dakota political science students are making the most of their summer break to gain valuable career experience through internships at the local, state and federal levels.

More than a dozen students are working in various government office internships in Washington, D.C. and throughout the state of South Dakota.

Alissa VanMeeteren, a junior from Yankton, S.D., is spending the summer in Washington, D.C. learning more about bureaucratic health care issues as a staff member for the House Committee on Ways and Means, specifically the subcommittee on Health. VanMeeteren, current USD Student Government Association president, spends her days with other staffers preparing representatives for various hearings on Capitol Hill.

“There is usually at least one hearing a week while the House is in session,” said VanMeeteren, whose career goal is economic development for the state of South Dakota once she finishes her academic pursuits. “These hearings cover a variety of issues and are usually very interesting and entertaining.”

She added that the subcommittee is currently waiting patiently for the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. She expects that the decision will come within the next week and then everything will change.

“All we can do is prepare for each possible outcome and wait until the decision is announced,” she added. “These next few weeks could become very hectic very quickly.”

This is VanMeeteren’s second consecutive summer of work in Washington, D.C. She spent last summer as an intern for Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D. and when the opportunity arose to return to D.C. for an internship with the Ways and Means Committee, she leapt at the chance. VanMeeteren also praised the USD Department of Political Science and the Alumni Association for their involvement with placing interns in specific government jobs as well as connecting current students with alumni living in the Washington, D.C. area.

“One of the best parts about Washington D.C. is that it is surprisingly easy to connect with USD Alumni,” VanMeeteren admitted. “USD’s Alumni Association does a fabulous job of planning events for USD affiliates and the number of attendees at these functions is truly a testament as to how well USD trains its students. There are graduates everywhere.”

In addition to VanMeeteren, other involving USD students interning in Washington, D.C. this summer include Alex Curry of Shenandoah, Iowa, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Washington, D.C. office; Teresa Johnson, Sioux Falls, S.D., United States Senate Republican Conference; Jennifer Kelly, Omaha, Neb., Secretary of the U.S. Senate; Carolina Logato of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Council on Hemispheric Affairs; Rachelle Norberg, Burke, S.D., Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Washington, D.C. office; Rebecca Reiter, Florence, S.D., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., Washington, D.C. offices; and Kevin Robb, Rapid City, S.D., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Washington, D.C. office.

USD students serving internships closer to campus are Shiloh Day, Highmore, S.D., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Rapid City, S.D. office; Marina Kiefer of Zurich, Switzerland, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Sioux Falls, S.D. office; Hanna McElroy, Sioux City, Iowa, Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Pierre, S.D.; Zach Nipp of Langford, S.D., Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Aberdeen, S.D. office; Steven Payne, Sioux Falls, S.D., Great Plains International Trade Association; Nolan Schmidt of Avoca, Iowa, South Dakota Department of Transportation (Legal Counsel Civil Rights Compliance), Pierre, S.D.; and Andy Walz of Meckling, S.D., Matt Varilek for Congress campaign, Sioux Falls, S.D.

More information about the Department of Political Science, part of the College of Arts & Sciences at USD, is available online at or by contacting


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News