History-political science major spends summer as intern for Schumer

Kenneth at podium

Kenneth Reilly's Twitter profile displays his class year and his aspiration, “future governor.”


            The history-political science major from Brooklyn, N.Y., is already working on his resume.


            This summer, he got his first up-close look at political life as a press intern in the Manhattan office of U.S. Sen. Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer.


            Reilly researched and wrote draft press releases and talking points for the U.S. Senate minority leader's communications team in his largest office.


            He has always had an interest in history and politics, he said, which was encouraged by his father, who teaches special education teachers, and his mother, a school psychologist. Reilly said he enjoyed trips with his parents to historic vacation spots and watching the nightly news with them.


            He knew he wanted to study history or political science in college. It so happens that Pitt-Bradford has them as a single major, something he found attractive, as well as the campus's non-urban location.


            “I'm an Eagle Scout, and when I visited Pitt-Bradford, it felt like a camping trip to me. I wanted a different cultural experience than what I had had in the city,” he said.


            In his first year, he took a class in European Politics from Dr. Helma de Vries-Jordan, assistant professor of political science. He used an essay he wrote for that class when he applied for an internship in Schumer's office.


            Schumer's staff was impressed enough to select him as an intern in the press office, where he worked alongside students from Ivy League colleges. “I never felt out of place coming from a lesser-known school,” he said.


            One of his consistent jobs was to research topics that could be used for Schumer's Sunday press conferences, which tended to focus on bipartisan issues.


            “It was hard finding reliable information sources,” he said. Reilly and other interns would pitch their ideas for the Sunday conference. One of Reilly's topics that was chosen for a Sunday press conference was about Coco Loko, a snortable chocolate powder laced with caffeine. Schumer asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the substance, which gives users a rush or high.


            Reilly got an extra thrill later that week when late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert picked up on Schumer's comments for a joke in his monologue.


            Another highlight was helping other interns set up an event at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan and having a chance to be a part of the event, where Schumer, who is the Senate minority leader, spoke against the then-proposal by Republicans to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law.


            Reilly would like to spend another summer interning for his state's senior senator and plans to apply to work in the Long Island office next summer. He is on track to graduate early and hopes to attend law school.