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History and government & law major Todd Palo ’05 of Newtown, Conn., is gaining experience related to several potential career fields this summer by working for Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.).

Based in the New Britain office with the possibility of working in the nation’s capital as well, Palo is assisting with the politician’s re-election campaign by researching voter projection, arranging events, and developing ideas on how to reach young and disenchanted voters.

“I am really getting the inside look at how candidates project their races,” notes Palo, whose experience has included meeting with influential Republican pollster Frank Luntz.

Scheduled to intern next semester with Northampton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Edward G. Smith, Palo is one of five students working in public service this summer who are receiving financial support through Lafayette internship endowments.

Palo also plans to do work involving domestic and international policies through the internship. He was prepared for the experience during the January interim session by serving an externship with Donald Wurzel, policy director for national defense firm Arete Associates in Washington, D.C., through a Lafayette program in which alumni and parents of students provide job-shadowing experiences. He was involved in a number of research projects assigned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and believes the externship gave him a solid foundation for analytical and investigative work.

“The externship required me to research, analyze, and write on legal issues that pertained to the Sino-Taiwanese conflict and the liability of coalition forces in post-war Iraq,” says Palo. “I believe that this aided me in preparation for public service as it reinforced my research skills and motivated me to improve my writing.”

Johnson is regularly engaged in a number of national defense issues and works on policies related to security, and in his further work for her, Palo plans to analyze and evaluate policy affecting domestic and international security matters. That will make the internship an even more excellent opportunity to gain first-hand experience in government service, law, and politics, which he is considering as career fields to pursue, says Palo.

“One of the things I learned during my externship at Arete is that matters of government and politics are often closely associated with the law,” he explains. “By working with the Congresswoman, I will undoubtedly encounter a number of legal issues while dealing with constituent services, as well as national and international matters. Accordingly, I have focused my studies at Lafayette College on the law, as well as current trends and issues in modern domestic and international foreign policy. I have analyzed security studies in relation to modern foreign policy and have aspirations of developing security policy or working for the Defense Department.”

The internship is strengthening his writing and analytical skills, he notes.

“This is a great opportunity considering that no matter what career path I choose, I will need to be able to analyze text, develop ideas, and convey my thoughts analytically and effectively,” he says. “If nothing else, this internship will help me fulfill my career goals by strengthening fundamental skills and allowing me to make the connections necessary to obtain future political and legal internships and working positions.”

Palo studied in Russia and Latvia last January through a class, The New Russia and the Old, offered in Lafayette’s interim abroad program.

“The course was a great opportunity to see an entirely different world,” he says. “It made me really realize how much we take for granted in the United States. I became friends with a young girl in St. Petersburg who was a schoolteacher and was only making the equivalent of $100 a month, so she had to work in a pizza place on the side. Russia was just like a Third World nation, and it allowed me the opportunity to see rich cultural history but also how poverty-stricken people could be.”

Palo says his coordinated major is a “great opportunity” to analyze both government & law and history.

“I have a modern domestic and foreign policy focus and have aspirations of working for the Department of Homeland Security, so by being able to sample from both disciplines,” he says, “I not only can broaden my knowledge, but am able to engage myself with various professors.”

Palo has complemented his academic education by taking on several campus leadership positions, including membership in Lafayette Leadership Committee, multiple positions in both his fraternity and the Inter-Fraternity Council, and a leadership role in First-Year Orientation, for which he will co-chair the Spirit and Morale Committee this summer.

“My involvement as the student representative to the Lafayette College Board of Trustees’ External Affairs Committee has made me aware of the skills one needs to successfully market an institution like the college, as well as one’s self,” says Palo, who has been chosen to serve on the committee for a second year. “My work with the committee has also been a way for me to get involved in the planning and decision-making process that involves the college community around me. My involvement in campus life has helped me realize that I want to pursue a career where I get to formulate policy and make political decisions that affect my community.”

Palo is president of Inter-Fraternity Council, a position that made him discover that he has an active interest in making social change. One of his main challenges, he says, has been to reverse the negative stereotypes associated with the Greek system.

“In working as the IFC president and vice president of my own fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, I have found that I thrive on the opportunity to work cooperatively with administration and enjoy planning and delegating events in attempts to make social change,” he says. “Through my involvement in these organizations, I realize that I am passionate about being involved in the politics of the community around me. This passion and enthusiasm for politics has helped me further define my career goals. My campus involvement has taught me that I enjoy being an orator, a leader, and a person that creates change.”

Chief among Lafayette’s many strengths are the close relationship that students can have with professors and administrators due to the small-school atmosphere, notes Palo.

“I have friends at big schools…and they barely know any of their teachers and do not have relationships with any administrators,” he says. “At Lafayette, I have been given the opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees, have had dinner at many of my professors’ homes, and regularly meet and converse with Deans (Kevin) Worthen, (James) Krivoski, (Pam) Brewer, and others to either resolve issues or just chit chat. So the close relationships one can have with the faculty is the biggest plus because it creates opportunities for jobs, internships, and friendships.”

Earlier this year, Palo joined the Phi Alpha Theta national honor society for the study of history and Lafayette’s chapter of the Order Of Omega Greek national honor society. He completed study in the Undergraduate Inter-Fraternity Institute at Indiana University last year. A member of the rugby team, he also gives campus tours, serves as a liaison between admissions officials and prospective students, and completes other duties in Lafayette’s admissions office.

Categorized in: Academic News