The intern the feds don't want you to know

Travis Hagelberg, 22, is the first intern in Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) office to come with his very own security clearance. As a member of the Air Force ROTC at the University of Washington, Hagelberg said his security clearance is standard for cadets.

But next June, he will be commissioned as a lieutenant and bumped up to “top secret” clearance. He will work in space and missile operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in San Diego. As an officer, he will have operational, not technical, duties, and could be privy to sensitive information about nuclear weapons and more.

“No comment,” Hagelberg said in reference to juicy government secrets he may or may not know.

Originally from Petoskey, Mich., Hagelberg is a business administration student set to graduate next June from Seattle Pacific University. In high school and college, he worked as a prep cook for The Original Pancake House, where he learned about the value of unflinching loyalty. He mixed batters for seven consecutive summers.

“It developed my work ethic and my reliability and commitment to an organization,” Hagelberg said.
Stupak’s intern will apply that loyalty to the Air Force, where he hopes to become a career officer after four years of contracted service. He said his experience as an intern has helped him prepare to be an officer by teaching him the inner workings of government.

“I thought this internship would be a great foundation that I could build upon,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in politics and the government, but I actually haven’t really studied anything [political] since high school government. … I had to relearn the whole political process and things like that so I wouldn’t feel like a total idiot when [tourists] ask me questions.”

Half-expecting to be pushed aside and ignored as an intern, Hagelberg has been surprised by how welcoming people have been on Capitol Hill. He has been given substantive assignments, including attending hearings such as a briefing by Gen. Michael Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, before the House Armed Services Committee.

“You know, you learn about the chain of command, but to sit in on something that high-level was phenomenal,” Hagelberg said.