Alex Calabro (Class of 2018)

photo of Alex Calabro

  • junior major in Public Administration
  • minor in Italian
  • from Carmel, IN
  • interned in the DC office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (Summer 2016)
  • University Academic Scholars Program (Law and Public Policy Scholar)
"Beyond my major, I feel I've gained a lot from Miami's broad liberal arts curriculum. We tend to pay lip service to the concept of 'liberal arts', but we really do live in a world where we have to take in information, analyze it, and formulate our own opinion — and that's a big strength of the liberal arts."

Why Miami?

"My parents used to live in Centerville, Ohio (near Dayton), and I had an older brother who went to Ohio State. I knew, however, that I didn't want to go to school in a big city. I was familiar with Miami, and it was really a perfect fit in terms of size, location, and the generous scholarship I received. Plus I just fell in love with the campus.

"As a freshman, I was excited to start college and was planning to study political science. However, I heard about the public administration major and studied the course descriptions online. I was interested in the fact that public administration had a greater emphasis on practical professional skills like budgeting, personnel management, and policy analysis, which are things that to me seemed more applicable to working in a government agency or as a professional in the public sector.

"I ultimately decided that the pragmatic focus of the public administration program was more interesting to me than the traditional political science program. The PA courses allow me to study both the theoretical aspect of politics as well as the practical."

Best Miami Experiences

Alex Calabro and 2 interns pose on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's (R, Wisconsin) office balcony.

"The accessibility of the professors at Miami is impressive. They really go beyond their traditional duties to help students. How much the faculty is willing to invest in your life outside of the classroom is probably my favorite thing about Miami.

"In particular, the Department of Political Science's Patrick Haney, Mark Morris, and Phil Russo have all helped me secure internships and have invested in me as a student and as a future public servant. I've been a TA in Professor Russo's class this semester, and that experience has allowed me to get to know some of the faculty on a personal level outside of the classroom.

"Beyond my academics, I've received a lot of support from people like Peter Lindsay, the former men's swimming and diving coach and the advisor for my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. The alumni of my fraternity have also been eager to help me any way they can, whether it be professionally or as a Miami student.

"This summer I worked as an intern in Senator Sherrod Brown's office for two months. Living in Washington, DC was a really great professional experience, especially as somebody who's really interested in politics and wants to work on the Hill one day.

"Here on campus, one of the cool things that I've been able to be involved in is the University Academic Scholars Program, where I've been a Law and Policy scholar since my freshman year. Everyone in my group was matched up with a Miami alumnus working in the field of law and public policy. My mentor is Don Rench, a lawyer in Seattle and 1988 Miami graduate. He visits campus a couple times a semester and has been giving me guidance ever since I was a freshman."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

"The public administration major strongly emphasizes professional, practical skills like budgeting, personnel management, and policy analysis. I think that skills like these are ones that will serve me well in the workplace.

"One memorable class I had is POL 306, Applied Research Methods. It focused on the intersection of statistics and political science, which is really the new trend in politics. Elections and campaigns are so data driven, so I've found it useful to know how to analyze political trends and public policies using traditional statistical methods. The class focuses on gathering data about a particular issue or policy solution and analyzing that data to make an informed decision about public policy.

"Beyond my major, I feel I've gained a lot from Miami's broad liberal arts curriculum. We tend to pay lip service to the concept of 'liberal arts', but we really do live in a world where we have to take in information, analyze it, and formulate our own opinion — and that's a big strength of the liberal arts.

"One example of a Miami plan class that I thoroughly enjoyed was ENG 141, Life and Thought in American Literature, taught by Jerome Rosenberg. We basically went through much of the canon of American literature, and the class had a huge impact on my writing skills due to the sheer amount of writing we were doing. I also took an American studies class, AMS 302 - Immigrant America, which focused on trends in immigration throughout American history as well as the immigrant experience in America. It was a really fascinating and relevant topic.

"I know at Miami it's really easy to say you're going to be a finance or business major and go right into the corporate world after graduation, but the skills you learn in liberal arts classes are important to employers as well. They teach you how to communicate, analyze information, and synthesize a response. When you graduate, you've gained a broad base of knowledge you might not have otherwise gained."

Internship with a U.S. Senator

"For two months this summer I served as a U.S. Senate Intern in Senator Sherrod Brown's office in Washington, DC. It was an interesting and busy summer; I was on Capitol Hill when the Orlando shooting happened, and it was a privilege to be able to watch a portion of Senator Chris Murphy's gun control filibuster from the Senate Staff Gallery. There was also some speculation that Senator Brown might be chosen as Hillary Clinton's running mate, so that made for an interesting few weeks as well.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D, Ohio) and intern Alex Calabro in front of the U.S. Capitol.

"The life of an intern on the Hill is really fast-paced and interesting. Every day is unique; one minute you might be on the phone with someone from Cleveland who is frustrated with the way the Senator voted on a particular piece of legislation, the next minute you are taking constituents on a tour of the United States Capitol Building, and the next minute you're listening to researchers from the Fish and Wildlife Service explain why Asian carp are threatening the health of the Great Lakes!

"Our whole class, around 14 interns, had the chance to sit down with Senator Brown in his personal office. He cleared his schedule for about an hour, and we were able to ask him all kinds of questions about policy and his personal life. I really respected that he took the time to chat with us and that he seemed genuinely appreciative for the work we were doing in his office.

"I'm also a nerd about politics, so being on the Hill and working in the Capitol was fantastic. For example, when the interns knew a big vote was coming up, we would sometimes get on the Senate subway to the Capitol just to see who was around. I ran into Chuck Schumer, Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, Dick Durbin, (then presidential candidate) Bernie Sanders, and many others.

"Overall, I learned that working in politics is all about building connections and building networks, so this internship was a really good opportunity to do just that. Also, everyone has such a negative view of what goes on in Washington, but I was fortunate enough to see the incredible amount of work that gets done every day on the Hill and how much our elected officials really do care about the people they are representing. That was one of the things that I admired about Senator Brown — he still lives in Mansfield, Ohio with his wife and goes home nearly every weekend. He is fiercely loyal to his hometown and everyone who lives in Ohio."

Advice to Students

"For those thinking about studying political science, definitely consider the public administration major, especially if you're really committed to being a public servant and working in the public sector in some capacity. It's really easy to say to yourself, 'I'm going to go to DC, I'm going to work on the Hill and write legislation and become a senator.' However, the reality is that the majority of public sector jobs are at the state and local level, working for government agencies. The PA major is really going to prepare you for working in those jobs.

"And finally, do an internship — take any opportunity that presents itself. Capitol Hill internships are unpaid, which can be a big deterrent for some people since DC is an expensive city, but think about the benefits beyond the pay. I promise it's going to be a good experience!"

[September 2016]