SOMERSET — From September through the middle of December, Alexandria Murphy worked in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen four days a week and then on Fridays went to seminars with guest speakers about topics, such as running for office, ethics and networking.

Those activities were part of a fellowship that Murphy was chosen for by Running Start, a non-profit and non-partisan organization that offers multiple programs for young women in politics. Murphy was chosen for the Star Fellow program which chooses seven college-aged women from around the country each semester to intern for a female member of Congress. The fellows are given housing on Capitol Hill and a $2,000 stipend.

In the office of Ros-Lehtinen, Murphy answered telephone calls from constituents. She said that one of the lessons she learned from the experience was that if someone was calling the congresswoman’s office, it may have been their last chance to get their problem resolved and that if they were reaching out, it was important to pay attention to their concerns. Murphy said hundreds of calls came into the office about the North Dakota access pipeline issue. She said the access through the tribal land was denied and she thinks the contact with legislators, like Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s, had an impact on that.

“It was just great to see democracy work in action with that,” Murphy said.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, whose family fled the oppression of the Fidel Castro communist regime around 1960, represents Florida’s 27th congressional district.

Murphy said she also met Caitlyn Jenner in Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s office when she came to meet the congresswoman who has a transgender son. Murphy said that while Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, she is socially liberal.

She also gave tours of the the Capitol Building during her internship, showing people the House and Senate galleries, the speaker’s balcony and the old Supreme Court.

Murphy, a Somerset resident who graduated from Somerset Berkley Regional High School in 2014, attends Worcester State University where she is a junior majoring in communications and criminal justice with a minor in pre-law and concentrations in advertising and global studies.

The Running Start program did make her think about running for office in the future, Murphy said. She said she is gearing up to run for Student Government Association president at Worcester State. She currently is a member of the executive board of her class’s committee for Worcester State’s commencement in 2018 when she will graduate.

Murphy also was just hired as an intern to work in the Newton office of U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy who is the congressman that represents her town. She was to start working there this month.

An unenrolled voter, she said it will be exciting to see the Democratic side of the House after having just worked in the Republican side.”


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