A Passion for Politics
Mikki Franklin always considered herself a quiet person.
That is, until she found herself lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Franklin received this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of an internship she had last summer in Washington, D.C., at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is ranked the third most influential lobbying group in the United States.
In order to pursue this opportunity, Franklin worked with Allegheny’s Career Education Office, which is part of the Allegheny Gateway. The office arranged for Franklin to receive assistance from the Dotson Fund to help with costs associated with living in D.C.
“Since I’m kind of a quiet person, I never thought I’d be able to do something like lobby on Capitol Hill,” Franklin says. “The experience gave me the opportunity to interact with Congresswoman Mimi Walters and her staff, which taught me how to talk to people in a professional setting.
“And since AIPAC was heavily in the press at the time, it was a historic moment to be a part of,” she adds. “That’s when I started to develop my interest in politics.”
Franklin says she also learned a bit about politics from traveling to Israel during her junior year as part of an independent study abroad program through Allegheny. She spent six months in Jerusalem, where she did a research internship under a Palestinian woman at the Harry S. Truman Institute for Peacemaking.
As part of this experience, she wrote a literature review for a project the woman is working on about media and its influence in the Arab world.
Franklin says Allegheny’s International Education Office, also part of the Allegheny Gateway, helped her to prepare for the trip.
“Israel was life-changing,” she says. “When you go abroad, you get immersed into a culture that isn’t your own. You learn how to become independent in a different country where you don’t necessarily know the language. It teaches you things about yourself and how to interact with other people.”
“Many people can be afraid to go abroad because it can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know anyone. But you have to be OK with that to really experience true values in life. You not only grow, but also get a better understanding of different cultures.”
In addition to the valuable experience Franklin gained abroad, she also has learned new skills through her involvement with the Center for Political Participation (CPP), part of the Allegheny Gateway. As a CPP Fellow, she works to foster politically focused conversations on campus, bring in relevant speakers, host special events such as voting drives and more.
“I haven’t always been interested in politics. But after my internship and then going to Israel, I wanted to help bring more Middle Eastern studies events to campus,” Franklin says. “That’s why I decided to apply to become a CPP Fellow.”
Franklin believes each one of these Gateway opportunities has influenced her future.
“After Allegheny, I’d like to pursue a job on Capitol Hill. I’m also looking into working at a think tank doing research,” she says. “I didn’t know I wanted this field until I had all of these experiences. I also discovered my true passions – Israel, nonprofit organizations and education.
“Some of the most profound experiences I’ve had are when I’ve taken risks,” she adds. “They teach you not only to challenge yourself, but also to challenge the way things are.”