Intern of the Week: Women show the Hill sophistication

Two stunning interns made their mark on the Hill this summer, and neither can be ignored before the fall session begins.  

Erica Flint, 21, is showing Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) office some European panache. She’s from Edina, Minn., but she spent the last semester interning in London for The Daily Telegraph’s highly touted fashion section.

On the Hill, she likes to wear sweater sets and conservative skirts — a tip she passes on to the less covered-up interns she has seen. Regarding lawmakers’ fashion sense, she says they are up to par.

“It would be so hard to be a woman in Congress, because your appearance is under so much scrutiny,” she said.

In a twist of fate, one of the other interns in Coleman’s office lived just around the corner from Flint in the upscale South
Kensington neighborhood of London. They didn’t know they were neighbors until they came to the same office in Washington.

South Kensington is a hangout of Princes William and Harry. But Flint didn’t catch a glimpse of them.

“Trust me, we looked,” she said.

Although she didn’t bump into the princes, Flint did recently see actor Ryan Gosling in the Senate cafeteria.
“People were just swarming around him. I just wanted to let him eat his lunch,” she said.

The Hill isn’t new to her. Flint interned here last summer, so she feels comfortable getting around town — like a local, she says. She is upbeat about politics on the Hill and believes members are doing the citizens’ work.  

But she’s ready to be done with D.C. and go back to school to finish her senior year at Miami University of Ohio. After graduation, she doesn’t know.

“The plan when I was a fifth-grader was to be a senator,” she said.

Over in Rep. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) office, another intern has taken the Hill by storm. Roxanne Thomas, 25, doesn’t blurt out her opinions, although she has the smarts to do just that. Instead, she speaks thoughtfully, with reserve.

She lives in a house with nine other interns — eight women, one man. (The lone guy has his own room, if you’re wondering.) Like her, they are all Native Americans.

Thomas is a citizen of the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe in Fallon, Nev., a town of 6,400. But she has also lived in a Navajo community in Tsaile, Ariz., because her mother is Navajo. Growing up, she moved all over the Southwest, living in Salt Lake City, Durango, Colo., and Phoenix, as well as Kayenta, also in Arizona. It was in Kayenta that she says she found her true cultural identity. Her mother lives there now.

When she turned 18, she chose to officially join her father’s tribe, the Paiute-Shoshone. The tribe offers better access to college aid. She graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango with a degree in sociology.

Now getting her second master’s at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, she hopes to go back to where she started, in Fallon.

“People know me better there,” she said. “I [just] say, ‘I’m the daughter of Thomas.’”

She wants to work on social programs there, which is what she studied for her first master’s at Arizona State University. One day, provided she has “the strength and willpower,” she may run for a tribe leadership office.

Editor’s note: Since this is our last issue before summer recess, we are honoring two interns with the title of “Intern of the Week.”