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Student interns at White House
August 29, 1997

The '97 grad first toyed with the idea last summer as she was sitting on her parents' December talking with a friend about how difficult the President's job must be.

"He put me on the spot," says Lynch, who majored in English and also earned a certificate in women's studies. "If I claim to be so gung-ho and a person who loves challenges, then I should go for it, he said."

Only 22 years old, this East Hartford native appears to be heading in that direction. This past summer she completed an internship as a White House aide.

Without the help of another friend, who loaned her a book listing the top 100 internships in the country, she might never have discovered the opportunity, she says. Lynch, who previously worked on seven political campaigns and has volunteered for many different causes - from soup kitchens to feminist groups - beat out 7,600 applicants to become one of four graduate interns at the White House.

The internship gave Lynch first-hand experience of the modern democratic system of government. She was given a position handling presidential correspondence. On a light day Lynch and others would receive 16,000 letters addressed to the President.

"If you look at it for a minute, you might say reading the President's mail is not that important," she said, "but when you consider this is the only tie some people have to the President, it's great. This administration considers mail extremely vital because the President believes in being connected with people."

So every letter is read carefully and assigned a code according to its subject. A form letter addressing the issue with the President's signature is then sent in reply.

Not only did Lynch read President Clinton's mail, she answered calls on his behalf. At least once or twice a week, she worked on "the Comment Line," where people can call in and give their opinions, request greeting cards, or even leave messages for the President.

"Once I received a call from a woman who wanted to thank us for helping her speed up a lawsuit which enabled her to win some money she needed to have a proper funeral for her deceased son," Lynch says. "It was a bad situation that had some light at the end of the tunnel."

Even though the job was uneventful at times, Lynch believes it was worth it because it gave her an opportunity to meet the President. That came before he left for an economic conference in May. As he was heading to his helicopter, he passed a group of staffers standing behind a rope and began shaking everyone's hands. When he stopped to talk to Lynch, "I thanked him for the opportunity to be one of his interns," she says. "He said without us, there wouldn't be an executive branch."

Lynch hopes to be part of the executive staff in 2024. By that time, she will be over 35 and able to run for president.

She learned from her experience as an intern that the pressure is more than she could possibly fathom. Despite that, she is now even more determined. "America had better be ready for a female president," she says.

In the meantime, she has accepted a one-year position as a program facilitator at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. After that, Lynch is not sure what she will do: "The Peace Corps may be the way to go."

Luis Mocete

Mentor Connection student Nadira Hira also contributed to this story.