The path to D.C. internships is well traveled for Utah students

Published: Saturday, March 22 2014 7:30 p.m. MDT

The LDS Office of Public and International Affairs where Geisler works is located in the Barlow Center, which houses up to 45 students participating in BYU's Washington Seminar, and helps co-sponsor the center's Faith and Public Service speaker series. She stayed on-hand after finishing work last week to attend the series' latest presenter, Tomicah Tillman, U.S. State Department senior adviser for civil society and emerging democracy.

Among the crowd was BYU student and Orem resident Greer Bates, who lives at the Barlow Center and hurried down for the presentation after sharing a snack with roommates in the students' shared kitchen. Bates appreciates the sense of security she gets from living with other BYU students.

"It's nice to know that there are people I feel like I can trust to have the same standards that I do," said Bates. "I don't have to worry about roommates bringing their boyfriends into the room or anything like that. It's been a big relief."

Bates visited Washington, D.C. as a child and saw an internship as the perfect opportunity to go back. She is interning with the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, where she helps with questions and research requests sent in to the museum. Through her work she stumbled upon a unique opportunity to share about Utah and her LDS faith.

"The biggest research project I have been doing this whole time is about Joseph Smith because someone emailed in a question about Joseph Smith and my supervisor thought, 'Hey, we have this Mormon girl, we'll assign it to her,'" Bates said. "We figured out that the museum didn't have that many records about Joseph Smith, and the records it had were pretty sparse, so she assigned me to update the records."

With less than a month left in their internships, Bates and her roommate have achieved their goal of visiting all the Smithsonian museums.

Bates' goal is to eventually teach about the history of the Holocaust. She is investigating graduate schools where she can continue her specific study track, and believes the research and archival skills she has honed will prove invaluable.

Offering a tip for Utah students who may be considering internships, Bates' advice is simple.

"They're not as intimidating as they seem. You might not know very much going into it, but there are a lot of people and a lot of resources to help get you through," she said.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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