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Ohio University student interns at the United States Supreme Court

Feb. 21, 2006
By Jessica Zibbel

Ohio University student Jon Peters was selected from among numerous applicants for a prestigious internship at the Supreme Court's Public Information Office in Washington, D.C. He is one of only three national undergraduates, and the first Ohio University student, chosen annually to intern in the Public Information Office.

photo by Noah Devereaux"This internship was appealing to me because of the rarified opportunity to witness first-hand the confirmation process and transition from justice to justice," Peters said. "And as a prospective law student, there's no better place than the Supreme Court to gain a greater understanding of federal judiciary."

Peters, a third-year student with senior standing, is majoring in public relations and specializing in history and business. During his Washington stay, that began Jan. 9 and will end April 14, he is helping to coordinate administrative and media affairs by completing tasks such as drafting correspondence, working with the national and international press, fielding phone inquiries and assembling orders and opinions for dissemination as they are handed down from the bench.

While there were no specific criteria for Peters' position, he went through an extensive application process, which included a letter of inquiry, an FBI background check and a 45-minute interview with the Supreme Court's deputy public information officer.

"I'm a longtime student of reasoning, critical thinking and advocacy, probably dating back to the days of petitioning my parents for larger allowances," Peters said. "Law, politics and public relations undoubtedly represent the intersection of reasoning, critical thinking and advocacy. I really appreciate their potential to act, in concert, as a conduit for change."

One of the most interesting aspects of the internship for Peters has been the variety of people that he has met on a daily basis.

"In working so close with the press corps, I've been able to learn by example from, among others, NBC News' Pete Williams and syndicated columnist James J. Kilpatrick," Peters said.

Meeting and talking with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and her husband has been the highlight of his experience thus far, according to Peters. He admits, however, that it is important not to become overwhelmed by his experiences and to stay focused on the duties at hand.

"It's important to preserve a sense of modesty and reality, and to keep your nose to the grindstone," Peters said. "Central in excelling in D.C. politics seems to be resisting the temptation to bask in the fame of those around you, totally blinded by the lights."

At Ohio University, Peters is active both on- and off-campus. Writing for the Athens News, Peters also freelances stories to the Athens Messenger, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch. He is a member of the Student Advisory Board for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Student Society of America. He is also an account executive for imPRessions, a student-run public relations firm, working on the School of Journalism account. His academic prestige is notable, as he is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honorary fraternity, Alpha Lambda Delta, an academic honorary fraternity, and the Golden Key International Honour Society.

This opportunity is an esteemed beginning for Peters' career, which he hopes will combine teaching, writing and law.

"I hope to mature into a Floyd Abrams type," he said. "That is, I would both teach and practice law while maintaining a regular publishing schedule, perhaps through a syndicated column. I could see myself returning to D.C. for its fascinating marriage of power, prestige and pageantry."

Peters gives credit for his opportunity to the many people who have influenced his life. "I didn't arrive at this opportunity single-handedly," he said. "I can't overestimate the significance of my family, friends and instructors, whose support paved the way. I am honored to be the first Ohio University student to intern at the nation's highest court and I hope my experience opens the door to future Bobcats."

Jessica Zibbel is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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Published: Feb 21, 2006 12:00:00 AM
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