Constitutional curiosity

Junior Kent Waller shares how his summer working in Washington, D.C., is helping him achieve his goals of learning more about government, law and the process of Congress.

Kent Waller

Aug. 14, 2023
Contact: Deidra Ashley,

Kent Waller is a junior political science major from Aurora, Illinois. This summer, he spent time in Washington as part of the Kinder Scholars D.C. Summer Program.

Read on for a Q&A with Waller about his summer research experience.

Tell us about your research.

I was part of the Kinder Scholars D.C. Summer Program, which combines theory, history and practice related to American constitutional and democratic traditions. Part of this experience is an internship, and mine was with the Office of Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer. There, I conducted research to help the Office of the Congressman stay up to date on current issues and conducted constituent correspondence.

What were some of your internship roles and responsibilities?

My roles included constituent correspondence, tours, directing calls, assisting in research, writing co-sponsoring forms, attending hearings and briefings, and answering constituent letters on various issues before the House.

Why is this research important to you?

The research I did on my internship was integral to keep the office running. As an intern, our job was to assist the Office of the Congressman in their duties and to keep them informed. If the member’s job is to serve the people of their district, our job is to assist them in doing that. My research might not affect the whole world, but it has tangible effects on the people in the district.

Research drives humankind forward. Curiousness fuels it; learning is flourishing. Progress would halt if not for curiosity and research, and my research and internship work is a small part in helping improve the lives of all Americans.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

The thing I enjoyed the most was attending hearings and taking notes for the staff. I love to see the inner workings of my government and put real life experiences into what I’ve learned in civics. I also enjoyed researching the details of legislation.

What was your favorite behind-the-scenes moment?

When Congress is in session, there are many receptions where interest groups, departments, and others come to the Hill. I got to attend many of them and network. My favorite reception was with NASA; they brought scientists and technicians, and three astronauts from the last mission.

Do you recommend other students get involved in summer research?

Yes! Research is a vital skill, and if you can show proficiency in that, you are invaluable to any company or institute. Research also makes you a better learner, and that is something more valuable than any job.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank at Mizzou for helping you get this summer research project?

I'd like to thank Dr. Alan Gibson of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. I took his class in fall 2022, and if it wasn’t for him and his recommendation, I would not have had this experience.

Meet more summer 2023 student researchers

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