3 Michigan students land White House internships

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

As a Ph.D. candidate who has taught university undergraduates and worked with a teacher’s corps group, Kate Rollert is concerned about the future of education nationwide.

The Battle Creek native and Michigan State University attendee wanted a close-up view of where policies originate — Washington, D.C. — and pursue public service. So last year, she followed in the footsteps of friends and applied for the White House Internship Program’s Spring 2015 session.

Today, she’s one of three Michigan residents among more than 140 interns from across the country.

“It seemed like a really great opportunity and something I wanted to take advantage of before I finished school,” Rollert said Friday. “I’m really passionate about education reform ... For me it’s really interesting to see how the decisions are made on the national level — who’s making the decisions and who’s a part of the conversation and seeing how research influences those decisions.”

Rollert, along with Alexis Farmer of Detroit, who attends the University of Michigan, and Arij Nazir of West Bloomfield Township, who has attended the University of Virginia, were chosen to join the internship program, officials said Friday.

The program, which started last month and runs through May 1, aims “to make the White House accessible to future leaders around the nation and to prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities,” according to a press release.

Applicants have to be U.S. citizens, 18 years old; have either enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a two-to-four year college, community college, or university; graduated no more than two years before the start of the internship; or served in U.S. armed forces in the two years before the internship and had a high school diploma or equivalent, according to the White House website.

To apply for the unpaid position, those eligible submitted resumes, essays and letters of recommendation. Internship participants are selected based on their commitment to public service and the mission of the Obama administration as well as demonstrating leadership in the community, the White House said.

The interns work in one of several White House departments, officials said.

Rollert couldn’t reveal specifics about her role or duties, but said “they keep us busy, the whole day.”

She also enjoys living in a progressive city and becoming involved in “a very historically significant” presidential administration.

“To work for the first African-American administration in the history of this country I think really inspired me” to apply, Rollert said. “I think it’s one of the most, if not the most, progressive movements we have had in this country.”

After completing her doctorate, Rollert — who also has degrees from Western Michigan University and Southern Methodist University — hopes to become a college professor. “That’s my dream goal,” she said.

Information about the intership program is available at