Lander University political science major Andrew Willis of Williston will spend the fall semester in an office in the Longworth Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., rather than in the classroom. Willis was selected for the prestigious Washington Semester Program and will be working as an intern for U.S. Rep. John Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.)
He is the second Lander student chosen for the program developed and administered by the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina. Earlier this year, Jeremy Babb of North Augusta, also a political science major, completed a semester-long internship in the office of U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.)
They are paid internships and Willis, like Babb, will also earn Lander academic credit for working full time in Spratt's office and completing evening course work.
He said the Washington internship is a great opportunity that will provide him with experiences that are unavailable elsewhere. He and Babb are good friends and he spoke with him often about Babb's experience working in Barrett's office.
Willis had to compete with students from 11 other South Carolina colleges and universities for an internship placement and it was a rigorous process. Each candidate was required to obtain letters of recommendation, write a resume and a 500-word essay, and submit to a 20-minute interview at the Honors College in Columbia.
Once he decided to apply, a group of Lander faculty members teamed up and helped him prepare the written materials, gave him interview tips and subjected him to a round of mock interviews.
Last February, when the day came for his interview, he was sick with a fever, but he kept his appointment and answered a battery of questions related to his major at Lander, health care reform and politics in general.
Willis, the son of John Willis and Terri Jowers of Williston, is a senior at Lander. Why did he choose political science as his major? "Politics is something I care about. It is up to each of us to make the nation what we want it to be," he said, adding, that he plans to go on to graduate school to obtain a master's degree in political science.
Willis is president of Lander's Political Science Association, active in College Democrats and a member of People to People International.
If he enters the field of politics and government, he will follow in the footsteps of his grandmother, Betty Jowers, who was the first woman elected to the Williston Town Council.