Civic Mobilization: Katie Okumu '21

Katie Okumu
Katie Okumu

Throughout this summer, we will be spotlighting the summer experiences of our IOP students working in politics and public service through their internships across the country and globe.

The Director’s Internship program has been a signature of the Institute of Politics for nearly 25 years and each summer the IOP works with more than 150 government offices, non-profits, and news organizations to provide internships for students who are looking to pursue careers in politics and public service. The IOP also offers summer stipends for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors accepting non- or low-paying summer internships in local, state, or federal government, public interest groups, non-governmental organizations, political organizations, and political campaigns.

This summer, as in years past, many of those students will be spending their summer working in civic mobilization - participating in organizations that are working to increase civic engagement and education.

Katie Okumu '21 is spending her summer interning at the Kentucky Democratic Party in Frankfort, KY.

What inspired you to choose this public service internship?

I chose this internship for two reasons. First always is the fact that I am a progressive Kentuckian who is passionate about my state’s future. Young people within marginalized identities who grow up in rural America are less likely to return to a social and political climate that makes it challenging for them to live well. I knew a college summer was the perfect time to help make the commonwealth stronger. Secondly, 2019 and 2020 are big years for Kentucky politics- Andy Beshear is currently taking on incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin, and Democratic candidates are taking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020. Roll backs on women’s rights, healthcare, and the continuation of voting right restriction are huge issues we are fighting against that just can’t wait.

What issues have you been focusing on in your internship?

I’m a Communications intern where I focus on writing blog posts, creating transcripts, editing video footage, and creating presentations. Other times, I help canvass and help plan events.

What are you most excited about working in public service and government?

It’s intimidating and exciting to work for a Democratic Party in a red state. Political discourse is tense in Kentucky right now, which can get discouraging but the people working for the party make it all worth it. The staff at the KDP are the kindest, most generous people in the world who genuinely care about the people of Kentucky - They’ve helped me remember that most people simply want to live well and to help their loved ones live well.

What are you hoping to learn and to get out of your internship experience this summer?

I’m looking forward to getting better at and improving my writing skills.