Tim Kaine among group of lawmakers to meet with LU leaders and students in D.C.
For 32 Liberty University students living and working in Washington, D.C., through the Washington Fellowship this semester, a Tuesday afternoon event held at the Library of Congress was a chance for them to hear from leading legislators about their career experience. Several Liberty administrators and staff members also engaged with lawmakers at a breakfast session, taking the time to share about Liberty’s tremendous growth and the ways that faculty members and students are impacting various fields of study.
The events were organized by the Center for Law & Government at Liberty, headed by former U.S. Congressman Robert Hurt. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), former vice presidential nominee, joined Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (N.C.-10) and Liberty alumnus and U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith (Neb.-3) in a forum for Washington Fellowship students. The semester-long internship program is offered to students of all majors.
Hurt introduced Kaine and spoke about Kaine’s service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Kaine was Virginia’s governor from 2006-2010 and has served in the U.S. Senate since 2012. Hurt especially remembered his leadership after the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007.
“I remember (Kaine) was a great comforter at that time and showed tremendous leadership in the months after that working with legislature on a very, very difficult issue in a very, very decent way that made the Commonwealth stronger,” Hurt said.
Kaine talked about his career path before opening the floor to student questions.
“I started in politics because I was mad at my city council one day,” Kaine said. “… I was a naïve guy … and I thought, ‘I think I could do better.’ I ran against the city incumbent and was elected in 1994.”
From there, Kaine served two terms before being elected mayor of Richmond, Va. He also served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor.
When asked about how students can learn to work with people in D.C. who may not have the same political beliefs, Kaine said it can easily be done.
“You have to be a good listener,” he said. “That’s a lost art in life, not just in politics.”
He said the key is finding people who are willing to take a chance on your ideas, whether democrat or republican.
“There are so many opportunities for that (in Washington),” Kaine said, even though people outside Capitol Hill may not see it. “Cooperation isn’t interesting — conflict is. There’s a lot more cooperation that happens here than you think, it’s just that it’s not newsworthy enough to cover.”
McHenry encouraged students to make an impact during their time in Washington. He said that when he eventually retires, he wants to know there are people in politics trying to change the country for the better.
“If there are more good people in this process, we will get better results,” he said. “Don’t accept the politics as they are. Make them what you want them to be.”
Smith, who attended Liberty in the 1990s, said that every time he walks through the congressional chamber, the marble steps remind him of the many leaders who walked there before him.
“They laid the foundation for us to be here, and it is up to us to be good stewards of God’s creation and the blessings we have been served in many ways,” he said.
Three Liberty alumni attended the event and spoke to students about their careers in D.C.
Sarah Stevens (’12), who serves as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Steve King (Iowa-4), became the youngest person to hold the position when she was hired in 2015 at 24 years old. She told students not to try to change the world by working toward a single accomplishment.
“It’s not so much the job or the title or the project you’re working on at the time,” she said. “In my five years here, I have found that if I was going to be a positive influence, if I was a Champion for Christ to the people around me, that made more of an impact on the world around me, and I saw that spread out more than any tangible work I ever did.”
DJ Jordan (’02), communications director for Sen. James Lankford (Okla.), advised students to work on building as many relationships as they could while in D.C. that could lead to potential jobs in the future.
“There’s a lot of Liberty alumni here,” Jordan said. “We’re all here to help Liberty students get opportunities.”
Fox News producer Jennifer Bowman (’09) told the students to not become discouraged during stages of life where they don’t know what their next step may be.
“God is the author of every single thing that we do,” Bowman said. “There’s a lot of things that you’ll come over in this career field, whatever you guys decide to do, that if you stay in touch with God and pray every day, He’ll appoint you and take you places where you’d never thought you’d be.”
Liberty senior Jessica DeLuca, who is interning with the American Psychology Association, said she was humbled by the opportunity to hear from congressional leaders and alumni.
“These are senators and congressmen inviting me to make a difference,” DeLuca said. “It has really encouraged me to find my niche and really press forward into the fullness of Jesus to the point where I am not afraid to step forward in the plans He has for me.”
DeLuca, who is studying strategic communication, said she would not be where she is without Liberty.
“While applying for the Washington Fellowship program, (the Career Center) was with me every step of the way,” she said. “Everyone was encouraging me and really showing me how to be a real Champion for Christ.”
Senior Natalie Camloh, who is currently studying graphic design and interning at the International Christian Concern, said that though her career goal does not involve politics, she was encouraged by the speakers at the reception.
“All of the talks had common threads,” she said. “Everyone talked about the importance of working hard and staying committed to your values, even on a national stage.”
Camloh said she is thrilled to be part of a university that creates opportunities for their students to hear from people from all career fields.
“It shows that Liberty has a national influence and the reach it has to bring in people like Sen. Kaine to talk to us,” she said.
This was the second forum that the Center for Law & Government has coordinated for students in Washington, D.C., this year. In July, summer interns heard from Lankford, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.-23), and U.S. Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.-4), Bob Goodlatte (Va.-6), and Tom Garrett (Va.-5).
Washington Fellowship students also joined alumni at a reception at the Rayburn House Office Building Tuesday night hosted by the Liberty’s Career Center.
Earlier on Tuesday, Liberty deans and department representatives met with several lawmakers in a breakfast session hosted by Goodlatte to talk about the programs and services that Liberty offers. Lawmakers present included Rep. Dave Brat (Va.-7), Rep. Don Beyer (Va.-8), Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.-10), Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.-5), Rep. Bobby Scott (Va.-3), Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.-4), Rep. Tom Garrett (Va.-5), Rep. Morgan Griffith (Va.-9) and Rep. Don McEachin (Va.-4). Liberty administrators included Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Dr. Peter Bell, Helms School of Government Dean Shawn Akers, Liberty University School of Law Dean Keith Faulkner, and School of Engineering & Computational Sciences Dean David Donahoo.