Guardsman spends his summer interning at White House
By Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt, 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 17, 2012
PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- A N.H. Air National Guard civil engineer and graduate of the University of New Hampshire recently completed the White House internship in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Senior Airman Brooks Payette was provided the opportunity to attend the Truman Summer Institute after being selected as a Truman Scholar last year. The prestigious award also provides $30,000 for a graduate education program.
"As a White House intern, I helped with scheduling rooms, assisting at events to ensure they go smoothly and those attending events at the White House have a pleasant experience," said Payette. "I also worked with our veterans and military families outreach liaison."
While everyday presented Payette new challenges, it was clear what his favorite part of the job entailed.
"Helping out the White House Tours with the wounded warriors was by far my favorite part of this experience," continued Payette. "Their service to this country is unrivaled. Additionally, their positive attitude and smiles as we toured the White House was inspiring and infectious."
Additionally, he was impressed to be working in the White House with the rich history behind it.
"I have always been fascinated with presidential history and the White House in general," he said. "Walking through the many parts of the White House was quite the experience the first time. It is truly an honor, but after time you are running around so much you have little time to even realize where you are."
Payette had the opportunity as part of the Truman Summer Institute to be at an event that hosted distinguished visitors.
"I got to meet Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright," Payette said. "We also had an event with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean on the day of the Affordable Care Act Supreme Court decision. I reminisced with him about a sit-down interview I conducted with Governor Dean in 2003 for the Berlin Sun when he was running for President."
The Truman scholarships are given to those who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to public service. A point not lost on Payette during his experience this summer as an intern and one he will take away.
"The amount of time, energy and effort that people put into this administration for the benefit of the public," he continued. "The leadership, staffers and interns are all great people and I am honored to say I served President Obama in both a civilian and military capacity."
Payette was competitively selected as one of 60 recipients who were awarded the scholarship last year. He was the second UNH student to be awarded funding from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation as a memorial to the 33rd president.
The Scholarship is awarded annually to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in public service.
The competitive selection process requires a strong record of public service, as well as a policy proposal that addresses a particular issue in society. Payette's proposal, addressed to the U.S. Department of Education, urges an increase of physical fitness activities in schools to address and combat childhood obesity.
It was his interest in this that made the most significant impact on Payette this summer, the opportunity to speak to childhood obesity's most famous advocate, Michelle Obama.
"The biggest honor was meeting the first Lady, getting a fashion shout-out from her and asking her a question about her 'Let's Move' initiative," said Payette. "Its mission is to help alleviate the childhood obesity epidemic in America within one generation."
After completing further education, the Berlin native plans to work in the area of public service aimed at addressing childhood obesity through public policy or the nonprofit sector.