U.S. capitol

Game-changing internships for Spider athletes

January 19, 2024


After their academic year and sports seasons were complete, four University of Richmond student-athletes went to work as interns in local, state, and federal government. They performed critical tasks in courthouses, city halls, and the U.S. Capitol Building and left with professional experience as they consider future careers. Read their highlights.

Kaiden Pritchett with Jane Cooper Johnson, the first Black student to integrate Westhampton Junior High School in 1961. Her mother was Civil Rights pioneer Elizabeth B. Cooper.

Kaiden Pritchett, senior political science major and football athlete

During Kaiden Pritchett’s internship with the Richmond City Council, he participated in wide-ranging projects — but one had special significance.

“The experience that stood out to me would be witnessing the renaming of a sign that held a lot of Black history in Richmond,” Pritchett said. “The sign was for the family who desegregated the first school in the Richmond Public School system.”

Elizabeth Cooper filed a federal lawsuit that led to her daughter being the first Black student to attend Westhampton Junior High School in 1961. Although Cooper passed away in 2022, her daughter, Jane Cooper Johnson, and family were present for the unveiling of the sign for Elizabeth B. Cooper Way.

“Being able to give back and highlight such an impactful moment was truly amazing,” he said. “It made me appreciate more the struggles of those who came before me and what they did to ensure I would have a better future.”

Pritchett is interested in holding an elected office one day.

“My advice for someone who wants to get into this field is to be passionate about what you’re trying to do. For me, I want to see how change can be made in marginalized communities. This internship showed me a way I can make this happen,” he said.

“I know many politicians end up getting into this field for their own interests and goals. I just want to remind people that we have the ability to change people’s lives. This power should be used wisely and responsibly.”

Student lacrosse player Madison Sesay

Madison Sesay, senior politics, philosophy, economics & law major, lacrosse athlete

Madison Sesay searched for internships that would help her prepare for a future career as an attorney, and found an opportunity at the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, Maryland.

“This internship was a very rewarding experience — full of learning, affirmation, and promise for my future,” Sesay said.

As an undergraduate law intern, she filed cases, composed briefs for pending and upcoming cases, and set up the courtroom every morning.

“My assigned judge, the Honorable Jill R. Cummins, is a brilliant woman who laid the foundation on how to become an attorney, what makes a good one, and how the court system works,” Sesay said. “Beyond that, Judge Cummins taught me the importance of empathy in the judicial realm and the significance of trusting your instinct.”

Her next step is to study for the LSAT so that she can apply to law school.

“After I graduate, I plan on becoming a practicing medical malpractice attorney,” she said. “Eventually, after years of practicing, I hope to become a wonderful judge like Judge Cummins.”

Elyse Kimball interned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Elyse Kimball, senior visual and media arts practice major and soccer athlete

Elyse Kimball interned in the Senate Democratic Media Center with Sen. Chuck Schumer. “Over the course of the internship, I shadowed Sen. Schumer’s personal photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and even got to sit in the Senate Democratic Studio and witness other senators curate campaign and social media videos,” Kimball said.

Her favorite experiences included helping design new branding and a logo for Sen. Michael Bennett of Colorado and videotaping a live stream of Senators Mark Warner and Mike Crapo as they unveiled a new bipartisan caucus to fuel investment in rural and low-income communities, with an audience of CEOs from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and TIAA.

“In that live stream, the entire room was filled with the most powerful and influential bankers in the world,” she said. “I was able to proudly shake these people’s hands, introduce myself, and tell them where I went to school.”

She hopes to continue to pursue graphic or user interface and experience design and apply the skills she learned.

Izzy Blaylock worked on a variety of projects for Sen. Mark Warner through her internship.

Izzy Blaylock, junior, politics, philosophy, economics, & law and history major, cross country athlete

During her internship in the Office of Sen. Mark Warner, Izzy Blaylock’s projects included preparing voting recommendations for judicial nominees and materials for Supreme Court and Senate Committee hearings. She also drafted memos on current events affecting Virginia.

“My internship allowed me to participate in meaningful legislative work,” Blaylock said.

Another important assignment was drafting a staff recommendation for a senator to vote a certain way or cosponsor a bill based on their past legislative history on the issue. She recommended the senator cosponsor the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex.

“This was likely one of the most impactful pieces of work I completed during my internship," Blaylock said. “I conducted research to provide ample background on the senator’s voting record, statements, and actions regarding LGBTQ+ protections, as well as potential impacts and outcomes of the bill if it were to be passed. Doing legislative work on issues of equality in the federal judiciary is very important to me, but an absolute high of my internship was reading the press release that he had signed on to cosponsor the bill,” she said. “Seeing my work come full circle like this on an issue that I am personally invested in was beyond rewarding.”

From her internship, she decided that law school is the right path for her. She envisions herself working with the Department of Justice before going into private practice or legal advocacy work.

“I would absolutely love to come back and work on the Hill,” she said.