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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
T&F Athlete Mike Foley's Summer at the White House
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 11/08/2011

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Michael Foley, a senior thrower from Blue Point, N.Y., knew from early on that he wanted to be involved in public service. Growing up in a family with ties to politics extending back to the late 1950's, Mike decided to attend George Mason University because of its proximity to Washington, D.C. in addition to having the opportunity to be a member of the track and field team.

A government and international politics major, Mike sought opportunities to experience the workings of the federal government up close and personal from the first day he arrived at Mason. He was fortunate to spend part of his summer in 2009 as an intern on the Hill, working for Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY, 2nd District). While there, he learned about the White House Internship Program, setting a personal goal to intern for the White House during the summer before his senior year. 

"It was one of the more extensive applications I've had to complete," Mike noted. "It consisted of submitting two essays, a resume and three letters of recommendation. I then had several phone interviews from different offices where I was asked a series of questions." 

Fortunately, he was accepted into the White House Internship Program and was placed in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. Upon starting his internship on May 31st, he was immediately impressed with the quality of his fellow interns.

"There were roughly a little over 140 of us selected for the summer session," remarked Mike. "The group was diverse, from age to life experiences. They were definitely an impressive and unique group of people.

"I'll never forget on the first day when I walked in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and met another intern and finding out how he's been to 97 countries and currently getting a dual-masters degree at Harvard and MIT. We're now friends for life."

In his position, Mike was responsible for analyzing multiple types of incoming correspondence and reporting any trends. While the days were long, Mike was able to take advantage of special opportunities afforded to the unpaid interns. He attended a Marine One take off ceremony, gave multiple tours of the East Wing, and volunteered at the annual Congressional Picnic. Additionally, he had the opportunity to participate in a weekly Speakers Series featuring Assistants to the President and even the First Lady and the Vice President.

And while all the insider perks and access of the internship make the position an appealing one for anyone interested in politics, it was the service projects that had the biggest impact on Mike.

While at the White House, he had the opportunity to work with the Boys and Girls Club of D.C., as well as the Beacon House. Both organizations ran summer programs that served underprivileged kids from the District. He noted that these experiences were truly humbling; making him thankful for the opportunities and fortunes he has had in his life. It also showed him how government can play in important part in people's lives, and is hopeful to repeat these experiences as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).

"I'm looking to coordinate an academically related event between SAAC and the Boys and Girls Club this year so my fellow student-athletes on SAAC can enjoy the same great experiences I had interacting with kids this past summer," stated Mike. 

In the end, Mike was grateful for his opportunity to serve as an intern at the White House. Beyond what he learned professionally, Mike walked away from this experience with an extraordinary group of friends and a renewed outlook on his life plans to enter public service.

"Working with a diverse group of interns, I learned a lot about people, their backgrounds, and how they have arrived at where they are in life," noted Mike. "We motivated each other to aim higher, and achieve more. But most importantly, we always reminded each other why we chose to apply for the White House Internship Program in the first place: to serve the public on behalf of the President of the United States."