Summer of Service: Hiren Lemma & Hoda Abdalla

For more than 40 years, the Institute of Politics has provided support for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to pursue a summer internship in public service.  The signature offerings of the IOP’s Summer of Service program engages more than 150 students with meaningful experiences in politics and public service.  From working for elected officials to non-profits, federal, state and local governments, activist groups and think tanks – IOP Summer of Service students immerse themselves in issues and policies for eight weeks as they explore opportunities and careers with public purpose.

Follow along on our social channels with #MyIOPSummer as we share some of the internship experiences in this cohort of students.

Hoda Abdalla '23 and Hiren Lemma '24 reflect on their summer working with Black Voters Matter Fund.

President Kennedy

How has your internship pushed you outside your comfort zone? What did you learn from the experience?

Hiren Lemma: The biggest learning curve thus far is realizing there is not always a right answer. In my research, there has rarely been an existing collection of data that answers all of my questions. When there isn't precedent for progressive ideas and proposals, as activists, it is our responsibility to create that foundation through detailed and extensive exploration and synthesis. Trusting myself to create my own path and share my own knowledge has been a journey outside my comfort zone, and I'm still developing in this regard. I am proud that I have learned to take ownership of academic exploration, and I am eager to continue to do so.over the next weeks and beyond.

Why did you choose this internship?

Hiren Lemma: I was instantly intrigued by the opportunity to engage with voting rights through an organization based in Atlanta, a center for voter suppression across the country. Especially after the work I did during the special election in January for Warnock and Ossoff, I was really excited to interact with the activists that created real change. Once I arrived, I was very inspired by the impact BVMF has had across the South, and I am extremely glad I have this opportunity!


President Kennedy

How has your internship pushed you outside your comfort zone? What did you learn from the experience?

Hoda Abdalla: This internship has pushed me outside my comfort zone by entrusting me to spearhead projects and meetings alone. My supervisors and teammates always affirmed that my thoughts and ideas were not just welcome at the table, but were essential to the team.

How has this internship experience shaped how you’re thinking about your future/career?

Hoda Abdalla: This internship helped affirm that I can do public service work in politics without sacrificing my values and commitment to uplifting marginalized communities.