Monday, May 19, 2014

From Triple Major to Double Internship

By Jesse Steele ’15

Dave Hicks, ’14, had a tough choice to make: attend Gordon College on the East Coast or another Christian college in the Midwest. In the end, it came down to a coin toss. And while the initial decision may have been left to chance, today Hicks is happy with where his luck landed him. Last weekend he received his college diploma alongside the rest of Gordon’s Class of 2014, and goes on to a summer full of exciting career opportunities.

Before college even started, Hicks had studied the student handbook and figured out a way to fit in a triple major in philosophy, English, and history. Over his four years he held positions on student government, Gordon College News Service, and the Gordon Presidential Fellows. Yet, this past spring, he still found the time to co-chair a Model United Nations committee in Russia. 

Taking everything he has learned Hicks will head to Washington D.C. for two internships—the first in the Capitol with Pennsylvania congressman Jim Gerloach, and the second two blocks away in a public defender’s office.

“Gordon taught me how to be networking. I saw on the congressman’s website they may be hiring interns and submitted my resume,” said Hicks.

As Gerloach’s term will end in January, many of his staffers have been leaving to find new positions, and with so much left to do, Hicks will be taking on more than a normal intern.

“I don’t know a lot about politics but I’m hoping to learn about it this summer,” said Hicks. “I’m hoping to meet other people and see what it’s like.”

His month-long internship with the congressman will be followed with a criminal law position for another three months. During this time Hicks will be interviewing witnesses to crimes and doing the legwork for the lawyer he is staffed to. This internship is the pinnacle of his’ summer work, since he hopes to become a federal prosecutor in the future.

Hicks’ goals began with a dream to become a trial lawyer. The blend of public speaking and debating drew him into the position, but the prospect of prosecuting petty theft and minor drug possession didn’t much interest Hicks.

“From trial lawyer you move to being a district attorney,” Hicks said. “The higher you go the higher the crimes and the more you deal with issues that are black and white, clearly right or wrong.”

This past year as a Presidential Fellow working in the office of Gordon President D. Michael Lindsay, Hicks had the opportunity to connect with someone working as a prosecutor. The meeting offered Hicks a better picture of the career he had been considering and solidified his intentions.

As a Presidential Fellow Hicks gained sensible knowledge for himself, but also practical experience he could use in the future, like the importance of researching information ahead of time. “If you’re meeting someone, Google their name and basic facts about them,” he said.

Hicks’ experience in the program is only one part of how Gordon has prepared him for what’s to come this summer.

Back in high school when Hicks was applying to colleges, he knew he wanted to study philosophy. As Hicks learned more about Gordon he realized its philosophy department could be a perfect fit.

“Even though it was a Christian worldview, at the end of the day [the department] explored other thinkers without Christianizing it,” he said. “We would read Nietzsche as Nietzsche, and not Christians against Nietzsche.”

The way he has learned to think has been grounded in an understanding of the importance of seeing both sides.

With the public defender Hicks will be going door to door in lower income neighborhoods, gathering information from possible witnesses. Being in this new environment will expose Hicks with a new kind of leadership and teach him to interact with his community in ways he’s not used to. “It will help to be a more well rounded person, talking to people from all walks of life,” he said.

Hicks also hopes that this environment will help ground him, reminding him of the importance of being profession yet relational—something he wishes he had known as a freshman. 

While post-summer is still a mystery to Hicks, and law school remains a couple years away, he is hopeful that this real world experience will be the sort of supplementary learning he needs for his graduate school application. For now, Hicks is playing with the idea of one more internship, working with International Justice Mission in India to fight human trafficking.

Jesse Steele, ’15, is a communication arts major focusing on journalism with a minor in kinesiology. In the coming years he will be attending graduate school to study public health, concentrating on community education. He loves attending basement concerts, roaming the streets of Salem and overcommitting himself.