Norfolk Collegiate School senior Aaron Shroyer had the opportunity of a lifetime this summer when he spent six weeks interning with Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The senator, last surviving brother in an American political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died at his home on Cape Cod after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer Tuesday night.
For Shroyer, his role as an intern was an incredible opportunity. “Sen. Kennedy served since 1962, longer than all but two senators in history. Just to say that I was a part of the last class of interns was very special,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy served alongside 10 presidents - his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them - compiling legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more. His achievements included bills to provide health insurance for children of the working poor, the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, abortion clinic access, family leave and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In his role with Kennedy’s office this summer, Shroyer checked faxes and sorted the mail. The senator received about 10,000 pieces a week, more than any other senator serving in Washington at the time. “I organized how we would respond to Sen. Kennedy’s many constituents,” he said.
For Shroyer, one of the most amazing things about the experience was seeing the inception of bills and laws. “You get to see things move from the ground up and government in action is exciting,” he said. While working on Capitol Hill, he attended confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and attended briefings given by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.
“Sen. Kennedy’s legacy lives on, and we were all touched by his many accomplishments. He’s the last member of a political dynasty. It’s inspiring to see a politician who was so well respected on both sides of the aisle. I’m grateful for the experience,” he concluded.