Chase Sauvage: A Capitol Experience
April 04, 2014
Senior Chase Sauvage has blazed a trail at Angelo State that he hopes others will follow.
A political science major from San Antonio, Sauvage spent the fall 2013 semester as an intern for U.S. Congressman Michael Conaway as the first participant in the ASU Department of Political Science and Philosophy’s Internship Program in Washington, D.C.
“I went in with the mindset that I can only be myself and work hard,” Sauvage said. “I did the exact thing I do at Angelo State or at my job at Footlocker. I wanted to represent myself in the best way and also represent Angelo State. By the end of the internship, I was being introduced as going to Angelo State.”
Launched in 2013, the internship program includes an $8,000 scholarship to help defray the costs of living in Washington, D.C., and free lodging at Texas Tech University’s “Tech House.”
“I literally could see the Capitol from my bedroom,” Sauvage said. “It was one of the best locations you could think of.”
The sole ASU intern, he joined 21 other interns from Texas Tech staying in the Tech House. One of the Texas Tech interns, Allie Cameron, was also assigned to Conaway, whose District 11 includes San Angelo.
“The biggest thing I learned was that you have to separate their ideology from their personal lives. A lot of them, regardless of ideology, are phenomenal people.”
“From Mr. Conaway to the chief of staff to the office people, everybody treated us like gold,” Sauvage said. “They did a lot of projects with us. For me, I worked with our military legislative assistant on Syria issues, on weapons for the military. I helped the legislative director with projects, especially during the government shutdown.”
That two-week government shutdown, part of a budget battle in the House of Representatives, helped turn what could have been a routine internship into something far more.
“When the shutdown happened, it was literally interns, Mr. Conaway and one or two staff members staffing the office,” Sauvage said. “Usually, there were 13 staff and the interns. A lot of our roommates, they had two weeks off during the shutdown. Allie and I, we worked the whole time. It made us feel really good that they trusted us that much.”
“It was a really stressful time,” he continued. “People’s emotions were running high about it. The biggest thing I learned was that you have to separate their ideology from their personal lives. A lot of them, regardless of ideology, are phenomenal people.”
Sauvage also got to work on other political hot topics that tied in with the Certificate in Cultural Competence and Security Studies with a Middle East emphasis that he is pursuing through ASU’s Center for Security Studies.
“The Middle East, defense, foreign affairs and Homeland Security were what really interested me, and I got to work on a lot of related issues,” he said. “But I was also exposed to a lot of issues that I had no interest in before and now they’re just as important to me, such as appropriations and immigration policy. Everything intermingles, and I got to see that first hand in D.C.”
Sauvage credits his professors at Angelo State for helping prepare him for the internship, which is available to upperclassmen with a major or minor in political science.
“I’m a political science major, but I used everything I learned at ASU in my internship,” he said.
Set to graduate in May of 2014, Sauvage plans to head back to Washington, D.C., once he has his diploma.
“Before I got there, I thought of Washington as a really cut-throat environment, but it really wasn’t,” Sauvage said. “Everybody I met was so helpful and gave me advice on what to do. Everybody’s story of how they got to Washington was different, but all involved hard work and dedication. They all started at the bottom.”
“I’m just so thankful for the opportunity ASU and Mr. Conaway’s office gave me.”