No Question: Meeting Prime Minister Was Highlight of RWU Internship for Rachel Wells '17

Senior political science major gained real-world experience with internships in London and Washington, plus work on campaigns and polling

A student stands in front of the headquarters of the British government.
Senior political science major Rachel Wells visits 10 Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister.
Edward Fitzpatrick

BRISTOL, R.I. – Hands-on learning is a standard part of an RWU education and, like many Roger Williams University students, Rachel Wells has taken part in internships provide valuable, real-world experience in locations all across the world. But not everyone has been applauded by former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

On Oct. 26, Wells attended a presentation by political scientist Christopher H. Achen, who came to RWU as part of the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series. Before the speech, she had a chance to chat with Achen about everything from the United States’ presidential race to the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote. And attention turned to the fact that she’d been in London, as part of an RWU internship, during the 2015 elections that returned Cameron to 10 Downing Street as prime minister.

Wells, 21, a senior political science major from Woburn, Mass., worked as an intern with Cameron’s Conservative Party, handling letters from constituents between January and May 2015. During the semester, she saw Cameron from time to time, but she didn’t meet him until her last day, when he stopped by party headquarters to thank her and two other American interns.

“He clapped for me,” Wells said. “He made us feel welcomed. He said, ‘Thank you for all you have done for the party.’”

While she worked for the Conservative Party in the U.K., Wells is secretary of the College Democrats at RWU. She said she found the Conservative Party was not as conservative as many conservatives are in the United States.

In London, Wells concluded the U.S. should not follow the U.K. practice in which party leaders often step down following election defeats. But she concluded the U.S. should follow the U.K. practice in which the prime minister fields questions from members of Parliament each Wednesday.

“The British system is much more transparent,” she said. “It’s good to see your representative question the prime minister on specific concerns.”

Wells said the U.K. internship is just one example of the experiential education she has received at RWU. For example, she worked on a state senator’s campaign as part of political science Professor June Speakman’s campaigns and elections class. And she created and analyzed a poll as part of political science Professor David Moskowitz’s public opinion class.

“It shows you that Roger Williams University definitely emphasizes real-world experiences,” Wells said. “Roger Williams allows its political science students to experience both theory and practice by requiring international relations and American studies classes along with lot of hands-on experience.”

Besides the London internship, Wells also has worked as an intern with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District. And in spring 2016, she worked as an intern in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress.

“My resume is awesome,” she said. “I know it has helped me get from ‘point A’ to ‘point B.’”

After she graduates in May, Wells plans to go to graduate school in the Boston area to study public policy or public administration. As for a career, she is interested in working for state or local government or perhaps a public policy think tank.