Lander University student Jeremy Babb has wanted to visit Washington, D.C., but never had occasion to make the trip. Now, he will spend the spring 2010 semester in the nation's capital thanks to his standing as an honor student, and a team effort by members of the Lander faculty, and his fiancée.
Babb is the first Lander student chosen for the Washington Semester Internship Program developed and administered by the University of South Carolina's Honors College. Interns are usually assigned to the office of a member of South Carolina's congressional delegation, but Babb will have to wait until he arrives in Washington to find out where he will be working. In addition to being paid, he will also earn Lander course credit for the January-to-April semester in Washington.
A junior political science major, Babb has been a member of Lander's Honors International Program (HIP) since the second semester of his freshman year. The Washington internship will satisfy the requirement that students in the program spend a semester studying abroad.
Director John Moore, who invited Babb to join HIP, said, "Jeremy is a remarkable student. He is very advanced and works hard," and pointed to his 4.0 grade point average as evidence.
Moore encouraged Babb to apply for the Washington internship, which required him 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 educators teamed up to help him prepare. Assistant professor of political science Kimberly Richburg and Kevin Witherspoon, assistant professor of history, wrote letters of recommendation. Moore, also an associate professor of philosophy, and Lillian Craton, assistant professor of English, helped him with his resume and essay.
Assistant professor of Political Science Lucas McMillan, and Michael Berry, Lander's coordinator of bibliographic instruction and a reference librarian, gave him interview tips. The group also put Babb through a mock interview.
Berry interned in Washington in 1999 when he was in the honors program at Francis Marion University. He worked in the office of U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), performing administrative duties including responding to constituent mail.
Berry has been discussing his experiences in the program with Babb, who he described as a perfect candidate. "He is a conscientious, smart young man with a lot of potential." He said the Washington semester helps students understand how government works.
Babb plans to go to law school after graduating from Lander and views the internship as beneficial to his desire to get into politics.
He spent last summer interning with the Greenwood Republican Party, organizing a barbecue that was attended by Republican candidates for congress and governor. He is also a member of College Republicans at Lander.
The son of Vicki and Bill Babb of North Augusta, S.C., Jeremy graduated from Midlands Valley High School in Langley. He has two younger brothers, and his cousin, Ken Durham, is the mayor of Edgefield.
He said he was persuaded to enroll at Lander because it is a small university. "I knew the teacher-student ratio would be in my best interest because I know my professors on a personal level." Lander's pre-law emphasis also contributed to his decision.
Babb and his fiancée, Ashley Kaney of Langley, a junior majoring in early childhood education at Lander, were classmates at Midlands Valley High. She subjected him to her own mock interview and accompanied him to Columbia on the day of the real interview. "She helped keep me calm," he said.
Babb had doubts about being selected because he was competing against students from across the state. But the day after his interview, his doubts were erased when he received an email confirming that he had been accepted and would be going to Washington.