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Interning at the Heart of Government, Politics and Policy Making

What could be better for a political science and legal studies major with aspirations in government and law than spending a summer interning in the nation’s capital? Two summers interning, of course, and Josh Odam’17, of Brooklyn, NY, couldn’t be happier. This summer he is participating in the first year of a two summer, eight-week program with the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a leadership development program for young African American men. “I am privileged and fortunate to be in this space and be surrounded by others who look like I do, and who are high achievers and highly motivated,” he says.

He joins two dozen of the nation’s best and brightest African American male college students in the highly selective, intensive leadership development program that includes workshops, meetings with prominent leaders, a course on policy, economics, and American justice, and high-level internship placements.

Odam, who has met with former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and attended briefings at the White House, is interning with the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute. Next year he will have the choice of returning to the center or selecting a different internship.

His focus is on the hot-button issue of student debt, more specifically, the problem of students exploited by predatory loan practices of some for-profit colleges. He says, “I am gathering stories and narratives from students, compiling statistical information, examining various statutes, and meeting with governmental officials to try to help remedy the situation, provide services to exploited students, and try to end those predatory practices.”

Odam also serves as chair for the People of African Descent Caucus of the United States Student Association, the largest, oldest, and most inclusive student-led organization in the country. Like the Center for American Progress, one of its goals is to make higher education in the United States free. “My internship is a good fit with my work with USSA,” says Odam.

On campus, Odam is a member of the Chancellor’s Diversity Strategic Plan Steering Committee and active in a number of organizations including Student Bridges, a student-led, student-run group dedicated to increasing college access and success for underrepresented students, and TRGGR Radio, a grassroots hip-hop social justice collective.

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