Southwestern Student Lands Prestigious Internship
Diana Webster, a third-year day student, has been selected to participate in the Morris K. Udall Native American Congressional Internship Program, which provides its participants with an insider's view of how the federal government works. She is one of 12 students who will partake in the 10 -week program in Washington, D.C., from May 27 through August 5, which allows interns to get immersed in observing the government's decision making process by working in the Senate and House offices, committees, Cabinet departments and the White House. Webster will work for the White House Council on Environmental Quality as a legal intern.
"Dinah Bear, the CEQ's General Counsel, explained that the office coordinates federal environmental policies and initiatives including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and works with other agencies and White House offices," Webster said. "She described a very hands-on experience where I would have the opportunity to write legal memoranda, do legal research and attend Congressional hearings. It is a great fit because my Ojibwe grandparents taught me that Indian people have a deep responsibility to protect the earth and all its creatures."
Professor Angela Riley recognized Webster's strong commitment to Indian legal issues during her Federal Indian Law and Cultural Property classes as well as her involvement with Southwestern's Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) and encouraged her to apply for the program. "Professor Riley is the faculty advisor of the club and an incredible resource, constantly providing NALSA with information on opportunities in the field of Indian Law."
Webster, who graduates in May, is interested in working with tribal governments as an attorney or tribal government member or as part of a federal agency. With the continuing economic development of tribes, Webster said that it is critical that their leaders concurrently gain the political strength to protect their interests and she would like to be part of that.
"I hope to learn how things 'really work' in our government. That means learning the protocol and procedure to move projects and legislature beneficial to Indian people and the environment forward," Webster said. "The fact that someone like me, a second-career law student from an American Indian background, has been given the chance to participate at such a high level in our government will hopefully encourage all Southwestern students to dream big and go for it!"
As a participant, she'll be provided with room and board, as well as a stipend upon completion of the program. During that time, the Udall Foundation will also provide the interns with tours to Washington D.C. museums and places of interest, and arrange meetings with members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and directors and staff of federal agencies.
The Morris K. Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship was established to give Native American students the opportunity to experience the political process and learn how the federal government works. The interns come from all areas of study. Udall championed the rights of American Indians during his career and sponsored important legislature for tribes such as the Indian Child Welfare Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.