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Student Spotlight

Jacob Hayes, MPPA Student and US State Department Summer Intern

Jacob HayesI am a second-year law student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville Law School and I spent my summer being an intern for the US Department of State.

The US State Department places an emphasis on both national and international diplomacy. Employees at the US State Department are to be exemplars of American diplomacy, representing and advocating US interests on an international level.

My summer in Washington, D.C. working for the U.S. Department of State was the culmination of a year-long application process involving multiple interviews and conversations with Department officials.

Upon being granted security clearance, I served in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation within the office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism.

“I had the chance to work with some of the best experts in the U.S. government who were all dedicated public servants. They taught me so much about diplomacy and the foreign policy process.”

Everyday, I learned something new about working within the administrative state and gained new tools for making myself competitive for the job market.

Living in Washington D.C. and experiencing its energy and diversity reinforced my ambition of working there after graduation.

My passion for international politics and policy formation grew even stronger after hours of conversation with the people working there, and my preconceived notions about federal bureaucracy were dispelled.

“I am so grateful for the support of the Howard Baker Jr. Center faculty who made my experience possible.”

Lucy Greer, Baker Ambassador, Baker Scholar, and Boren Scholar in Jordan

Lucy GreerLucy Greer is a senior at the University of Tennessee Knoxville majoring in political science with a concentration in international affairs. She has received a prestigious Boren Scholarship that has allowed her to spend this year studying Arabic and researching international politics in Jordan.

The Boren Scholarship is an initiative of the National Security Education Program. The program provides funding opportunities for US undergraduate students to study less frequently taught languages in regions vital to US interests such as Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Because of her avid interest in history and Arabic studies, Lucy always knew she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy and international affairs.

She has wanted to apply for the Boren Scholarship since her freshman year of college, as the program stresses both national security and government service. The language aspect additionally contributed to her decision, because the program would give her an opportunity to practice speaking Arabic daily.

When asked why she wanted to go to Jordan, Lucy cited the two foremost places she wanted to study abroad: Morocco and Jordan.

Her main interest lies in the Middle Eastern region called Levant. This region includes Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon.

As for her research, Lucy is working on her Baker Scholar thesis while abroad in Jordan. While there she plans to examine American support for the moderate Syrian opposition in the Syrian Civil War under US President Barack Obama and its relationship to the war in Iraq.

When asked what sparked her interest in this research topic, Lucy responded, “A lot of the discourse coming out of the Iraq War was the United States should not have invaded, yet in the case of Syria many argued that we should have done more. That contrast really fascinates me.”

She said that the most difficult part of her research process has been her research of Syria. Much of the information coming out of Syria is incomplete, and the fracturing of different forces within Syria makes the information that does exist difficult to fully trust and rely upon.

When asked what the most important thing she has learned so far in Jordan is she advises, “Don’t be afraid to speak in Arabic at the grocery store because even though you sound like an idiot at least you’re getting some practice.”

“Don’t be afraid to speak in Arabic at the grocery store because even though you sound like an idiot at least you’re getting some practice.”

Lucy has most enjoyed the opportunity to speak Arabic in the context of her everyday life while in Jordan. She believes it shows her that all her hard work in her Arabic studies has paid off. Furthermore, she states that she has had the opportunity to meet many incredible people during her time thus far. Lucy is loving her experience abroad, as she advises, “if you can go abroad at all, even only for a week or two, definitely seize that opportunity.”

“If you can go abroad at all, even only for a week or two, definitely seize that opportunity.”

When asked what she would say to others who are pursuing research, Lucy advises, “Find a policy area that is so massively interesting you’ll never get tired of it. What I love about all the Baker Scholars is their individual passions for specific areas of policy, they live their passion from the inside out.”


Nathan Timbs, Baker Ambassador and Intern for Senator Bob Corker 

Nathan TimbsI am a junior studying political science with a concentration in international affairs. I am also a religious studies major with a minor in Arabic studies. I have always had an interest in international politics; disputes; and government types, with a focus  in the Middle Eastern region.

I was fortunate to serve as an intern in Senator Bob Corker’s Knoxville office over the summer. His position as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee only increased my interest in international politics. My dream career is to work for the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC, or abroad in an embassy. This career choice is fueled by my love of international relations but also by a strong desire to impact the world in a beneficial way.


What was your first day like? Your last day?

I did not know what to expect on my first day, but I was given a packet of Senator Corker’s statements and stances on hot button issues currently being debated including health care, Syria, and Cuba. I was then trained on how to answer constituents’ questions, which could be categorized under one of two groupings: comments and casework.

“Once I began answering calls, I felt like I was finally a part of government and making a difference. Being able to finally make an impact felt amazing, and I could not wait to help people on a daily basis.”

My last day was a fitting end to my time as an intern for Senator Corker. The night before I stayed up to watch the final health care reform vote on CSPAN. It failed 49-51, and with that vote, the weeks of comments and concerns from constituents concluded in an end result. I was able to fully witness government work right in front of me as local feedback and debates on Capitol Hill culminated into a vote that will impact the nation for years to come.

I was saddened to know that I was having to leave behind unfinished casework, as I could np longer help constituents with their needs. Overall, this internship strengthened my appreciation for government because I was able to see it work efficiently and effectively from a perspective I had never before witnessed.

What was the most important thing you learned during your internship?

I learned two very important things during my internship. The first was to be calm and professional in every situation. Answering phone calls from angry constituents sometimes tested my patience, since not everyone follows the golden rule of “treat others as you would wish to be treated,” but I always reminded myself that I was first and foremost a representative of Senator Corker.

Secondly, I learned the importance of making a good impression on those around me whether it be a coworker, a boss, or a constituent. Presentation of self was critical in my position, and I realized that this internship would have consequences for my future.

“I learned that working hard, going above what I was being asked, and trying to always be professional would serve me well in the future.”

What was the most surprising moment?

The most surprising moment, and also a very exciting moment, was when I saw all of our work on our “Joint Operation” veterans event come to fruition. The weeks of work that I had done assisting the planning and execution of this event resulted in a resounding success in which over 500 veterans were able to receive assistance for various needs and issues.

Since I had never helped plan an event of this scale, I was amazed at how well our office had executed this event.  Seeing the work that I did directly impact constituents made all of the effort more than worth it.

“I was surprised that government could work so effectively to meet specific needs, rather than the disaster that is presented by the media on a daily basis. Being on the inside of government will make anyone truly appreciate the meaningful work being done.”

How did the experience impact your future plans?

My experience reinforced my love for government and public policy, but I did not expect the largest benefit I received. Through my internship I came to the realization that I have an intense passion for helping others and that I want to do that on an international scale. This experience also inspired me to apply for an internship next summer with Senator Corker and the Foreign Relations Committee. Without the knowledge gained from this internship and connections I have made, this process would have been much harder, if not impossible.


What will you always remember?

During my internship, I was fortunate enough to serve as the representative for Senator Corker at a naturalization ceremony. For those who do not know, a naturalization ceremony is the legal proceeding individuals go through to officially become U.S. citizens. The moment 30 individuals from 20 nationalities became U.S. citizens is one I will never forget, as they all had expressions of happiness and achievement.

“This made me realize how important government is and how great it can be.”

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