Through Va. General Assembly Internships, Harper Dillon ’25 Preps for a Career in Government

Through Va. General Assembly Internships, Harper Dillon ’25 Preps for a Career in Government

Academics, Internships, Testimonials

February 27, 2024

Through Va. General Assembly Internships, Harper Dillon ’25 Preps for a Career in Government Harper Dillon '25

With a lifelong passion for politics, it’s not too surprising what Harper Dillon ’25 decided to pursue as her major when she arrived at Hollins.

“Studying political science was my intention when I came here and I’ve never deviated from it,” Dillon says. That commitment has manifested itself time and again as she has taken advantage of a range of opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom.

“We have a small political science department, but I really like that because we have small class sizes. You get to know your professors well and you’re able to talk one-on-one with them,” she explains. “I had a very broad knowledge of politics, but taking political science classes here has helped me to understand political philosophy and how it can affect the ideologies we see in government today.”

Since her first year at Hollins, Dillon has been active in Model United Nations (MUN), whose simulations help students gain a better insight into how the UN functions, and Model Arab League (MAL), where students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world and build their skills in public speaking and diplomacy. This year she serves as secretary of Hollins’ MUN/MAL chapter, and in November she chaired the Council of Political Affairs and Heads of State for the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League conference at Hollins, which welcomed student delegations from George Mason University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia State University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Military Institute.

The past two January Short Terms have offered Dillon the chance to get actively involved in state government through internships at the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond. Last year, she joined interns from Randolph-Macon College and the University of Richmond in the office of Delegate Betsy Carr, a member of Hollins’ class of 1968, who represents the commonwealth’s 78th District in the House of Delegates. “That was a great experience,” Dillon says. “I didn’t know anything about state government and that internship really helped me to understand it.”

This January, Dillon built upon that opportunity by working in the Virginia State Senate. She interned with Senator Jennifer Boysko ’89, who represents the 33rd District. “I revisited the connections I made with interns in Delegate Carr’s office, and I was able to meet more people as well. It was a very good next step.”

Dillon states that throughout this internship, “every day was different, depending on the schedule and the committee meetings Senator Boysko was attending. I worked almost every day with data logging constituent and advocate emails so that she could see who was for or against a particular bill. I also helped with tracking bills so that we could see what bills were coming up in committees. I gathered notes and information to help the senator prepare for presentations to a committee or subcommittee on bills in which she was serving as co-patron, and I would go with her to committee meetings.”

Both internships, Dillon says, gave her valuable insight into the workings of state government. “People would be interested to know that it’s just as busy as the federal government. There is a constant flow of people and a lot of things happening, which means you have to have knowledge about many different issues and be able to switch subjects very quickly. It’s very busy and it moves fast, but people are really dedicated to creating bills and making life better for their constituents. It’s fun to see.”

Her General Assembly experience, Dillon believes, has enhanced her skills in communication, leadership, and listening. “It has definitely helped me understand what I want to do career-wise,” she adds. “I really like state government. I love the energy, and the work that they do there is important.” Presently, she is exploring possible summer internships to build her resume. Dillon plans to enter the political workforce after graduation next year but isn’t ruling out graduate school at some point in the future.

Dillon’s internships with Delegate Carr and Senator Boysko were made possible through Hollins’ Signature Internship Program, which gives sophomores, juniors, and seniors the chance to pursue an array of opportunities sponsored by Hollins alumnae/i. These internships carry academic credit and include housing and a stipend. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that Hollins alumnae/i have provided for political science students,” Dillon says. “These internships have given me experience that I would not have gotten otherwise. They have helped me apply in the real world what my professors have taught me. We have such a great alumnae/i network, and the Signature Internship Program really shows the strong connection that network has with current students here.”

In addition to immersing herself in the world of political science, Dillon has enjoyed a career as a student-athlete at Hollins. She’s a member of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams and was recruited by Head Coach Robert Sullivan after he saw her compete for Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Virginia. “I first toured here my sophomore year in high school and fell in love with the campus,” she recalls. “I looked at other schools, but Hollins was always foremost in my mind. I really like it here.”