November 9, 2019

White House Internship Inspires Communication Major

PBA News

An internship with Ron DeSantis’ successful campaign for governor in 2018 was a stop on Alexis Serna’s way to the White House.

Serna, a senior communication major from the Chicago suburb of Palatine, interned at the White House’s Office of Political Affairs this summer, where she got an up-close look at how the executive branch functions.

“This completely solidified me wanting to work back in Washington and the public sector,” Serna said. “It was the most inspiring experience I’ve ever had.”

Serna carved out a niche in politics after an unfulfilling corporate communications internship. She began to get involved in local clubs in the Palm Beach community — specifically the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and the Palm Beach Republican Club — and eventually landed an internship with the DeSantis campaign. She recruited, trained and managed volunteers for the now-governor’s grassroots efforts, and she loved it.

“It kick-started that fire to work in politics,” said Serna, a politics minor.

Serna was one of 106 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country to earn a coveted White House internship. Even as an intern, it was easy to see how her tasks in the office helped the administration achieve its larger goals, she said.

“It really was a team mentality, and everyone was working together on one goal,” Serna said. “It takes so much dedication and hard work and time for people to serve in the public sector.”

At the White House, she tapped into what she learned in her University courses about how different branches of government operate. She credited her time at PBA for preparing her for the experience and her professors, especially Dr. James Todd, for encouraging her.

Todd said he regularly shares political internship opportunities with students on a non-partisan basis. In an election year, especially, there are more internships than students to fill them. Seemingly small opportunities almost always allow students to climb the political ladder from local to statewide openings and, potentially, to Washington, D.C. jobs.

Although Serna is not a native Floridian, she’s become very well-connected in local political circles, Todd said.

“Not only does she do well in class, she never misses an opportunity to broaden her horizons and to get involved with local political activities,” Todd said. “She is a natural leader. I am very proud of her.”

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