An Inside Look at the Machinery of Government

“When you’re in the Senate, you can feel the power. Everything is slow and deliberate and done withgreat intention. But the House is really scrappy and super fast-paced. It’s the voice of the people. It’s hard to pick between the two of them.”

While those words sound like they came from a seasoned politician, in fact they are born of the personal experience of John Jay alumna Katie Spoerer (B.A./M.A. ’12). Spoerer’s interest in politics surfaced early in her career, and through a series of internships including the Edward T. Rogowsky internship, she was hired to work in the office of New York’s junior U.S. Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, as a deputy scheduler, all before she had completed her degree.

“I would go to work all day, come home, and continue working on my thesis,” she said. “It was a lot of work but eventually I finished.”
At John Jay, Spoerer completed dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice, with an undergraduate minor in Political Science. She conducted an original study to understand how people perceived youth through the criminal system, with a focus on the moral panic theory. But during the day she worked closely with Gillibrand, helping to manage a bulging schedule of meetings and engagements.

Her next job on Capitol Hill brought Spoerer right back to her hometown of Cumberland, R.I., working for Representative David Cicilline, her local Congressman. “The House and Senate are so different, they’re literally worlds apart,” she said. In addition, she went on to note, the Senate at the time had a Democratic majority, while the House was led by Republicans. “It’s tough because being in the House minority, there’s very little you can do — it’s difficult to pass legislation,” she said. “So much of your focus is constituent casework. It was really fun working for my hometown member, because I saw what he was doing for my community where my family still lives.”

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