An acceptance letter to law school wasn’t an automatic ticket to a summer of rest and relaxation for a recent Gettysburg College grad.
Instead, Alex Ferraro ’12, who graduated summa cum laude in May, with honors in his two majors and Phi Beta Kappa recognition, spent the summer serving the needs of Pennsylvania seniors through a ten-week public policy internship with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging in Harrisburg.
Ferraro’s selection as a Finnegan Summer Fellow provided him the opportunity to get a peek into state government before he heads off to the University of Pittsburgh Law School in the fall.
“My focus has been on working closely on the 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging, which is required by the federal Administration on Aging in order to receive funding. In this plan, Pennsylvania is required to highlight their priorities, goals, and objectives in serving the Commonwealth’s older populations,” said Ferraro, who majored in political science and history with a minor in anthropology.
Ferraro said that Gettysburg prepared him well for the work that he is doing on a day-to-day basis this summer. Additionally, the skills he developed in a liberal arts environment have been very helpful.
“Almost every day, I am required to use my critical thinking, writing, reading, and communication skills – all of which I developed at the College,” said Ferraro, who was involved with the College’s Student Senate, Residence Life, Honor Commission, and Senior Class Gift Campaign Committee.
Ferraro also noted that his time at the Department of Aging touched on many aspects of government and public policy that he learned about during his time as a student. “Thinking about issues in the broadest sense is exactly what we learn to do at Gettysburg College,” he said.
In addition to their individual internship duties, Finnegan Fellows participate in weekly lunches with officials from the State Government. Ferraro and his three Finnegan colleagues met with officials including Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, Secretary of Administration Kelly Powell Logan, Secretary of General Services Sheri Phillips, Secretary of Environmental Protection Mike Krancer, Deputy Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources John Giordano and Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt.
“There are so many advantages to working as a Finnegan Fellow. It gives Pennsylvania students a window into state government, we get to do meaningful work at the highest levels of state government, and we meet an incredible spectrum of dedicated public servants,” said Ferraro.
Ferraro earned the selective Finnegan Fellowship by winning first place in an essay contest examining a proposal that surfaced last fall in Pennsylvania to change the allocation of the state's electoral votes from a winner-take-all system to one where the winner of each of the state's congressional districts would receive one electoral vote and two additional votes if they won the statewide popular vote.
Ferraro made it clear that several people at Gettysburg College were a big help in finding the rare opportunity to intern in the Commonwealth’s capital.
“I am fortunate to have known political science Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw since my first week on campus, and she has been my closest mentor ever since,” said Ferraro. “Dr. Warshaw has served on the Board of Directors for the Finnegan Foundation, and she encouraged me to apply for the Fellowship and helped me with my application.”
Kathy Williams, director of the Center for Career Development provided invaluable assistance critiquing drafts of his essay, Ferraro added.
He also said that in addition to those in the Gettysburg community who have been so helpful, his parents, Paul and Julia Ferraro, deserve a lot of the credit for his success.
Recognition as a Finnegan Fellow isn’t the only time in recent memory that Ferraro was called out for scholastic excellence. He was also selected as a Fellow for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress this year, which Warshaw said was “quite an accomplishment.”
As a Fellow for the Center, Ferraro wrote a research paper on why the Reagan administration supported South Africa and apartheid in spite of strong congressional opposition, using his experiences from a semester abroad at Rhodes University in South Africa as inspiration. His paper was one of only twenty selected to be published in a book, “The Fellows Review 2011-2012”.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803