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Meet Capitol Hill’s Rising Star, Kaitlin Hickey!

School & class: Columbia College, Class of 2018


Major: History and French & Francophone Studies


Hometown: Trumbull, Connecticut


1. Tell me a little about yourself. What are you favorite hobbies and interests?

I’m a bit of a Flywheel enthusiast, I’m always keen to study abroad, and grabbing dinner with friends is hands-down my favorite thing to do.


2. What are you involved in on campus? 

I am a mentor for Columbia Peer Connect, a member of the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, and I’ve been heavily involved with the Columbia Women’s Business Society (last year I was co-Marketing Chair and this year I am currently serving as a Board Advisor).


3. I heard that you worked on Capital Hill this summer! Have you always been interested in politics? 

I think the combination of taking President Bollinger’s Freedom of Speech course and going to local political events like Nancy Pelosi’s rally for Paid Parental Leave and Hillary Clinton’s visit at the Apollo in Harlem really pushed me to consider dedicating my summer to exploring politics. 


4. Are there any political issues you are particularly passionate about? 

I’ve always been very passionate about gender equality and women’s issues, whether that’s equal pay or a woman’s right to choose. We’ve made a great deal of process on this front, but there’s still so much that we can accomplish for future generations.


5. How was working on Capital Hill?

Between congressional briefings, writing memorandum, Supreme Court non-argument days and the Annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party, there’s never a dull moment. For me specifically, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to watch both of my Senators hold the floor and filibuster for gun control from the Senate gallery. 

Interning on the Hill also involves quite a bit of walking. I would recommend getting a FitBit.


6. Did you enjoy living in Washington DC?

Immensely. With 19 Smithsonian museums, and fun cultural events like Jazz in the Sculpture Garden every Friday, there is always something to do. Not to mention, it’s brunch heaven. 


7. What surprised you most about working in politics?

Besides the fact that we have a Zoo and Aquarium Caucus (Yes! We really do have one), I think I was happily surprised by how eager Hill staffers are to meet you for coffee, mentor you and help you find your way, sometimes literally. On the second day of my internship, a fellow intern and I got lost leading a group of constituents to Longworth and Senator Tim Kaine was kind enough to stop, introduce himself and take 15 minutes out of his day to take us to where we needed to be. 11/10 first impression.


8. Do you have any advice for students hoping to work in government? 

Apply for any and all internships that pique your interest! I think the best way to tackle an internship application is to focus on explaining how your coursework, your extracurriculars and your passions would translate to working in a particular public office. 


9. How do you feel about the 2016 Presidential Election? 

I’m very hopeful that this election cycle will encourage more people than ever to vote. Who we choose to elect on November 8th will define us as a country, now more than ever, and I think that it’s every citizens privilege to take part in that choice.

Personally, I’ve got my fingers crossed for a bit of shattered glass. But that’s just me.


11. After your experience this summer, do you hope to continue pursuing a career in politics?

Not entirely sure yet, I’m still exploring. I definitely plan on applying to law school, but in terms of a specific career path, I’m still searching for that perfect niche where I can have the most impact.


12. Who are your biggest role models? 

Sandra Day O’Conner, Rosemary Berkery, Nikita Singareddy. They all embody the mantra ‘empowered women empower women’ and I really admire that about them.


13. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? 

Easy. My little sister. New York and London are just a bit too far apart and I miss her.


14. Congrats on making it to junior year! Looking back, what advice would you give to your freshman self? 

Capitalize on having free Fridays and get off campus more to explore the city. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of coursework, internships and the “Columbia Bubble,” but taking a little bit of time to relax and enjoy this incredible city will do you wonders, even if that’s just popping downtown to check out a gallery or try a new work out class.


15. Favorite quote?

“I decided to be happy because it is good for my health” – Voltaire.


16. What is your guilty pleasure? 

Ice cream.

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Catherine Atherton

Columbia Barnard

Student at Barnard College, Columbia University
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