Jaelyn Evans ’22 is no stranger to the halls of Congress, a place she’s called her work home since graduating from Randolph College.
But she recently found herself rubbing shoulders with political leaders in a different setting at the White House Congressional Picnic.
“It was incredible, walking up to huge names like Nancy Pelosi and Hakeem Jeffries to say, ‘Hi, I love your work,” said Evans, who posed for photos with both Democratic leaders, as well as President Joe Biden, at the event. “I’ve gotten used to working alongside congresspeople, seeing them in the hallways. But it was so interesting to go to the picnic and see them in a completely different light.”
Evans, who majored in political science, began her career on Capitol Hill during the fall of 2022 with an internship in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL).
It was something of a full-circle moment for the Chicago native, who had actually visited Quigley’s office as a young teen.
“I always had Congress in the back of my mind, so I started applying to jobs and internships on the Hill, and Congressman Quigley’s office was one I was excited about,” she said. “He represents the North Side of Chicago. I’m from the South Side, but we’re all one big constituency.”
As an intern, she fielded calls from constituents and led tours of the Capitol, something she felt prepared for thanks to her time as a Gold Key Guide at Randolph.
The tours also helped her maintain perspective on the unique position she’s in.
“They’re seeing it for the first time, in awe and taking photos,” she said. “It’s a good reminder that this is really cool, and we should remember that. It makes you appreciate where you work.”
After two months as an intern, Evans took a job as a staff assistant with U.S. Rep Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) before returning to Quigley’s office this February in a similar role.
She now oversees his internship program, helping students whose shoes she once filled herself. She’s also flexed her legislative muscles by working on memos with Quigley’s team.
One of her favorite parts of the job is the work she’s able to do with the Honor Flight Network, a national nonprofit that works to transport United States military veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifices.
We print out a Congressional record acknowledging their visit and thanking them for their service,” Evans said. “I get to drive those over to the monuments on those days.”
The leadership opportunities she had at Randolph—serving as Student Government president, among them—have played a big role in her work.
“It’s also helped me just in thinking on my feet,” she said. “As SG president, there were many things that happened quickly, and I had to adjust, particularly serving as president the first year we came back post-Covid. I learned a lot about being flexible and doing things in a different way than anyone had ever done them before.”
Quigley encourages his staffers to hang up pennants from their alma maters in his office and proudly points them out when high school students visit.
Now, thanks to Evans, a whole new generation of students are finding out what it means to Be An Original.
“My desk is the first one people see as they walk into his office, and I have a giant Randolph College pennant,” she said. “There are a lot of students discovering Randolph.”Tags: outcomes, political science