|Michael DuVall working at Senator Amy Klobuchar's D.C. office.|
For Michael DuVall, foster care isn’t just a sociological topic; he lived within the system for five years. When an internship opportunity came along to inform and educate policy makers in Washington, D.C. on foster care issues, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
UMD student, DuVall, was selected to be one of 15 college students from across the nation to be apart of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Foster Youth Internship (FYI) program. The 15 selected students are spending their summer interning on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. FYI places former foster care youth into congressional offices to advocate for the 423,000 in foster care nationwide. The selected individuals who have spent time in the United States foster care system can provide their unique perspectives and experiences to federal policymakers.
The sole delegate from Minnesota, DuVall is interning for Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office. DuVall applied for the internship after being referred by Doug Osell, former police chief of the Superior, Wisconsin Police Department. Some of FYI requirements are for interns to be enrolled in college and demonstrate outstanding leadership skills on campus. DuVall successfully fulfilled the requirements, currently taking coursework in pre-law and accounting and is involved in many different organizations at UMD.
Entering into the Minnesota state foster care system at the age of 15, DuVall endured many emotional hardships. Through it all he graduated from Duluth Central High School, overcoming the odds of less than 50 percent of other foster children. He hopes his determination, drive, and personal experience with the foster care system will assist him during his internship.
DuVall is serving in a 2-in-1 internship. The first part is being in the office of the Honorable Senator Klobuchar, working under the supervision of a Legislative Correspondent, responding to constituent issues through phone and mail. Along with office duties, DuVall is compiling a policy recommendation report based on foster care and adoption legislation that will be evaluated by the Legislative Assistants before being presented to the Senator. The second part is working directly with the non-profit organization CCAI and attending frequent round-table discussions with congressional and legislative members about foster care issues.
“I’ve met so many highly educated people out here,” DuVall said. “The best part is having the opportunity to work and discuss important issues on the federal level of government.”
On July 31, DuVall is presenting his research at a Congressional briefing. Throughout the student's FYI internship, week-by-week research is conducted about how to impact children in foster care across the country. Their findings and recommendations are compiled into a policy report that is then shared with congress and child welfare advocates nationwide.
“This internship has inspired me to work more closely in politics, as well as provide a tremendous opportunity to have my foot in the door for future careers,” he said.
DuVall hopes to take away many invaluable life lessons from this internship and leave behind a solid foundation that will help children who are placed in foster care.
Written by Kelly Kemper, July 2012