A spotlight on seniors Gracie Sheng and Saaya Daga’s internship at Congressman Jim McGovern’s office
During senior year at Mass Academy, all seniors are required to complete a Senior Independent Study Project (SISP), dedicating a minimum of 100 hours to a topic or activity of interest. This year, seniors are using their SISPs to explore yoga, sewing, videography, and much more. For two seniors, their SISP has landed them in US Congressman Jim McGovern’s office for Massachusetts’ 2nd Congressional District.
Gracie Sheng and Saaya Daga spend 8 hours per week working 2-3 hour shifts answering emails and phones to field the needs and concerns of constituents.
The conversations span broad policy issues: railway worker benefits, NGO partnerships, and reproductive rights. Constituents call in with individual concerns including immigration, housing, and social security benefits.
“I learned about constituent services and the functions of various federal agencies,” said Sheng.
This understanding will be important for the seniors as they prepare to move on to college and beyond, becoming the constituents whom they converse with now.
Despite the heavy topics people call in about everyday, there is enjoyment to be found in the work.
“My favorite part is when we’re able to help someone and they either call or send notes to the office,” said Daga. “I love getting to focus on the aspect of local politics that is simply about reaching out to your community.”
Both seniors have been able to spark improvements within the community, whether by directing a caller to a services office, or helping someone file an application for subsidized housing. Despite being seniors in high schools, Sheng and Daga show no one is too young to have an impact.
Diego Suchenski Loustaunau
Senior Staff Writer