Maggie Smith (C’19) has spent her life following Congressman Steny Hoyer’s career. With her mother as an acting member of the Maryland General Assembly, Maggie has acquired a wealth of experience working in local politics, giving her a special relationship with her representatives. Through our conversation, Maggie discussed the influence DC has on her nearby home of Bowie, Maryland, her long days at the Capitol, and her steadfast dedication to Congressman Hoyer that is somewhat unique in Washington.
What areas of public policy interest you?
Being an international relations major, I have gravitated toward national security, as well as Asia Pacific relations. Last summer I interned for a private diplomatic institution called the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. The Dialogue focuses on national security, cyber security, trade, and business and is attended by congress members, senators, parliament members, ambassadors, and business leaders from both nations. I got to sit in on closed door discussions and found that I really like national security, and the aspects relating to China and the Asian Pacific.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
The other interns and I get there before the office opens and make sure Congressman Hoyer’s office is set up for his work day. He has a pretty large staff, between his policy and day-to-day staff, so we make sure all the printers are stocked, newspapers are current, and anything else they need to get through their busy schedule is ready.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
I’m very fortunate to live right outside the city, so I got to live at home. I take the Marc or Metro train in every morning, and walk through Capitol security at 8am. Days at the Capitol are long, so I typically get home around 7:30pm. After work, since I’m on the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Penn, I usually go to the gym and get physical therapy for my recently broken foot. A few times, I stayed and lingered around the Capitol to see some protests or rallies that were going on. And on a few occasions, I’ve met with some interns from other offices for Happy Hour dinner at Tortilla Coast, where we just hang out and eat some cheap dinner. I have friends that were interning for Congressman Harris, and another friend interning with Senator Cardin, and I got to meet a lot of really smart and interesting interns through them.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
It wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but there was an affirmation that Congress really does work together on a lot of things, and that it isn’t as polarized as people may think. When I’m there, I see a lot of cooperation and hard work. They work long hours: some congressmen and staffers are there doing twelve, thirteen hours day. To see that level of cooperation was great to see!
In 30 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
There are actually two things. First, Congressman Hoyer has a Whip Team, with a good number of staffers who can actually go out on the House floor with him. I worked closely with his Special Assistant, Joseph, who is kind of Hoyer’s right hand man. On a non-voting day, Joseph took us out on the House floor, and we sat where the congressmen sit and pelted Joseph with questions about Congressional life. I sat in awe and took it in. We live in one of the most powerful democracies in the world, and we were sitting right where it happens. It was an amazing moment.
The second: Senator Schumer invited us to the gallery to watch healthcare be debated, so after work, the other interns and I were up in the Senate gallery listening to senators (mostly Dems) debate healthcare. To see the amount that they care; to hear the stories that they share from their constituents, and to see them implementing these stories on the Senate floor was an awing moment.