Stripped of White House internship, Kennedy-King student wonders why

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • May 12, 2009 @ 12:23 PM

A Kennedy-King College student who thought she’d be heading to the White House for a summer internship starting next month got an unwelcome surprise yesterday when her internship was revoked with little explanation.

Appreccia Faulkner got a round of applause at a City Colleges board meeting last week and was in the process of lining up housing and funding for the unpaid internship, which she applied for several months ago.

Faulkner was excited to start the job and had hopes of parlaying it into a permament position down the road. In the fall she’ll transfer to George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to study global affairs.

But last night, Faulkner got a message from a White House staffer saying that the correspondence office had received additional applications. While Faulkner was qualified, there weren’t enough open spots and she had been turned down.

“She was just very apologetic that they offered me the position and then couldn’t follow through,” Faulkner says.

Officials in the White House press office initially said yesterday that the person who could comment on the internship was out of the office. This morning, a reporter was told that person was not available for comment.

Faulkner, a 29-year-old mother of three children – 12, 5 and 3 years old – hopes to join the Foreign Service and travel overseas after she graduates.

That will be a big change, Faulkner knows, from growing up in Roseland and Bronzeville; she currently lives in Auburn Gresham.

“Only until I came back to school did I realize how important it was to get out of your comfort zone and see what’s going on in the world,” she says.

Faulkner worked in banking until last year, when she returned to school full time. She relies on daycare for her younger children and friends to watch over them while she’s in classes – as many as five classes each semester, she says.

Faulkner has taken every course that Kennedy-King political science professor Ted Williams has taught in the last three years.

“She is very engaging, just seemed to have a real thirst for knowledge and learning,” Williams says.

He credit’s Faulkner’s strong Christian faith – he is the faculty advisor to the Christian student organization on campus and she is the group’s president – for helping her get where she is.

“It’s just consistent with her belief that she can do anything and it comes directly from her faith, her Christian faith,” Williams says.

“It’s just hard work and determination,” Faulkner says. “I just decided I wanted to get up and do something.”

Faulkner initially applied for an internship in the White House’s intergovernmental affairs office earlier this year.

While she was turned down for that, a few weeks later she got the offer for the internship in the correspondence office. The unpaid post would have included reading mail from citizens, drafting replies from the President and helping operate the White House’s public comment phone lines.

While Faulkner is still planning to go to George Mason, the loss of the internship opportunity left her baffled over what happened.

She's new to politics and while her mother, a community organizer, knows Mayor Richard M. Daley and Alderman Anthony Beale, D-9, neither of them worked on or contributed to the Obama campaign.

“I just don’t know what happened, but it’s a little disturbing,” Faulkner says.

Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.

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