Meet Gretchen Hopkirk, a junior at the University of Notre Dame, who has joined Penn Hill Group as an intern for this winter. Gretchen is a Television Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. See our interview with Gretchen below to learn more about her and all that she brings to our office. Welcome, Gretchen!

Why did you decide to spend a semester in D.C.?

After interning in D.C. last summer at a multimedia news outlet, I thought that it would be beneficial to come back and continue my professional and educational development in the country’s political nucleus. I am participating in the Notre Dame in Washington program, which allows me to take classes and work while experiencing all that D.C. has to offer.

What do you hope to do or learn during this internship?

I am excited to learn from the Penn Hill Group team about a wide span of education and workforce issues. Specifically, I would like to learn more about higher-education issues like college access and affordability. I am also looking forward to improving my writing and research skills through this internship. Finally, I would like to help with some event planning and learn about interacting with clients.

What interests you most about education?

Education is the building block of every individual’s life in the United States. It interests me because a strong education changes how someone interacts with the world and can affect their socioeconomic status for the rest of their life. The policy that shapes our educational system shapes the future of our country, so any change in education policy has ripple effects far beyond classroom walls.

What are some of your future goals?

After graduating, I would like to find a way to combine my interests in media and politics, most likely through some sort of communications position within a campaign or elected office. Although I do not have a specific job in mind yet, I hope that whatever path I choose allows me to advocate for equality and promote democratic principles.

What’s something exciting you’ve recently gotten to do?

Last fall, I co-wrote a research paper about predictability in college football play-calling. I presented with my partner at the Notre Dame Fall Undergraduate Research Fair, and our paper was accepted for presentation at the MathSport conference in Athens, Greece. I will be traveling outside of the country for the first time to present this summer!