Enjoying the summer weather and relaxing on the beach, without textbooks and assignments, are not part of Caitlin Rochford's '06 summer plans; rather, as a Levitt Fellow, she is spending the summer in Washington, D.C., researching the environment under the direction of Alan Cafruny, the Harry Platt Bristol Professor of International Affairs. Rochford is studying the progress of energy legislation, including the Climate Stewardship Act, the Energy Efficiency Act of 2005 and is analyzing how the actions of Congress reflect current American sentiment on oil, renewable energy and the environment.
The government major and French minor applied for the Levitt Fellowship upon the suggestion of Professor David Rivera, after she spent the 2004 fall semester in Washington D.C. While in Washington for the first time, Rochford worked for the House Science Committee Subcommittee on Energy, and said, "I wanted to have the opportunity to take the work I did there one step farther."
Rochford plans to take Environmental Politics when she returns to campus in the fall, and she said she thinks she will begin to see the fellowship's impact on her Hamilton education when she participates in this course, because it will cover much of the material that she is working on this summer.
In addition to spending the summer researching, reading reports from WorldWatch and other sources and closely watching the news, Rochford is also in the process of setting up interviews with experts in her area of study.
Regarding the Levitt Fellowship, Rochford said, "I think that the Levitt Fellowship is a great opportunity for Hamilton students. It's great to be able to study whatever interests me. I decided to spend my summer in D.C., because I love the city and it is the most relevant place to be for my research. I have the opportunity to get feedback from people who work for the government, which I would not be able to do if I stayed on campus.
"When I came to D.C. in the fall, I didn't know anything about energy policy, but working with the committee was a great experience and I learned a lot," she said. "After that I really wanted an opportunity to come back to D.C. and continue the work that I had started. I helped to do research while I was with the committee that has since turned into legislation that I'm studying this summer."
Following graduation next spring, Rochford plans to take a few years off before going to law school and entering into the world of politics or possibly participating in Teach for America or working on Capitol Hill.
To enhance student research around issues of public affairs, the Levitt Center funds student-faculty research through its Levitt Research Fellows Program. The program is open to all students who wish to spend the summer working in collaboration with a faculty member on an issue related to public affairs.
Students receive a summer stipend and some expense money, and spend 10 weeks in the summer working intensively with a faculty mentor. Those selected for the program are required to provide a written assessment of their work at the completion of the summer, and also give a public presentation of their research findings to the Hamilton community, or local high school classes through the Levitt Scholars program.
-- by Katherine Trainor