The College of Saint Benedict’s and Saint John’s University’s Washington, D.C. summer internship program is turning 38 years old. Housed in the Political Science Department, the program has grown tremendously over the last 10 years, with many students vying for approximately 20 spots. Students earn four credits for their preparation classes, working in full-time internships and participating in approximately two dozen professional development seminars run by the program co-directors.
Many of our graduates in D.C. open their offices to students. For example, Stephen Yurek ’84, president and CEO of the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, hosts students to work on energy regulations and standards. Eric LeCompte ’99, executive director at Jubilee USA Network, hosts students to work with communication campaigns and Congressional lobbying.
One Johnnie/Bennie couple, David and Meridel Turch, goes even farther. David ’63 has mentored students for more than 20 years at his Capitol Hill lobbying firm, David Turch and Associates. David’s successes include major infrastructure projects, regional economic development, aviation and homeland security programs. His client list includes public-sector entities from across the country and corporations in the U.S. and abroad.
In their internships, students learn a great deal about the legislative process and federal appropriations. Those who intern with David are always invited to join him in meetings with members of Congress and executive branch officials. Students have the opportunity to draft and review proposals. David’s holistic approach brings interns as close to the legislative process as possible.
Each summer David and his wife, Meridel ’66 host a reception for interns and program directors at their home south of Washington. This event is a summer highlight for our students. They meet other students’ mentors along with alumnae/alumni who are working in the Washington D.C. area, providing a great networking event.
David and Meridel also assist Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s by hosting each school’s president at a yearly reception in Washington, D.C. in early February. This popular event usually attracts more than 100 of our graduates in the D.C. area. Some graduated as recently as last May while others graduated decades ago. It has also proven to be popular among Minnesota’s elected House and Senate members, which is another highlight for our students.
David and Meridel’s generosity has greatly strengthened our D.C. program and alumnae/alumni connections. “It’s the least we can do, and we always strive to do the least we can do,” David says lightly. We know it is a whole lot more.