The Bootstrap Award

Hiral Patel

The Harry S. Truman Center for Governmental Affairs recently awarded two UMKC students with a fully-funded internship to Washington, D.C., called the Bootstrap Award. The organization aims to create public and student engagement with Truman’s history.

The goal of the Bootstrap Award is to send students who are interested in public policy to Washington, D.C. for further education and first-hand experiences with politics. This internship came about as a result of Truman’s struggles.

“Harry Truman tried to come back to school when he was an adult to go to law school at the Kansas City Law School (now UMKC School of Law),” said Dr. Dale Neuman, Program Director of The Harry S. Truman Center for Governmental Affairs and professor at UMKC. “He got respectable grades, but he discovered that it was hard to have a family, to have a job, to go to school at night, and to be successful in what he wanted to do. [Truman Libraries] thought that it was a prototypical story of a lot of UMKC students and we wanted to honor his efforts by creating this internship that is fully funded by the Truman Center.” The Bootstrap Award has been an annual internship since 2008. From 2008 to 2014, UMKC independently collaborated with connections in Washington, D.C. to give students this opportunity. Beginning in the summer of 2014, the UM system worked together to make this internship system-wide.

“The University of Missouri-Columbia always had interns going to Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Rolla did not,” Neuman said. “The University of Missouri system got together and did for everybody what they were doing for University of Missouri-Columbia.”

Instead of choosing interns as they did in the years past to send to Washington, D.C., UMKC now turns the selected interns into MU who then send the selections to lobbyists from Washington, D.C.After the UM system started collaborating, the quality of the experience from the Bootstrap Award increased significantly.

“When we did this on our own, we sent our interns to a dormitory in George Washington University intended for summer interns,” Neuman said. “Under the University of Missouri system, they go and rent a couple of condos within easy access to the office buildings.”

This year, there will be 12 interns from the UM system. There will be eight from MU, two from UMKC, one from UMSL, and one from Missouri S&T. Each year, the interns have different tasks and placements.

“Last year, both of our interns worked for the senate — one for McCaskill and one for Blunt,” Neuman said. “This year, they are both working in the [House of Representatives] — one for Cleaver and one for Leutkemeyer.”.

The two UMKC students chosen for the internship this year are Ida Ayalew and Ramsey Fowler.

“I’ve always been interested in politics,” Fowler said. “I’ve been trying to take different stepping stones to get to where I want with politics. I thought this was a great opportunity to spend some time in Washington, D.C. to learn more about how it works.”

Fowler is excited to live with like-minded students for two months. He believes his application was successful due to his honesty.