Hill Climbers: Politics as a Hobby

Posted June 9, 2009 at 4:21pm

If you think that every staffer arrives on Capitol Hill driven from a young age to work in politics, think again. For some, an entrance onto the Hill begins with merely following politics as a hobby. Stephanie Brown, who recently rejoined the office of Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) as a staff assistant, says it was simply an interest in politics that brought her to Washington.

[IMGCAP(1)]Unsure how to use her degree in business management after graduating from the University of Alabama in 2004, Brown was sure of an interest in politics. “I thought it would be a good experience to spend some time on the Hill so I applied for an internship with my Congressman,— Brown said.

Having successfully landed the internship, she headed to Washington in 2004 to work for Aderholt. This experience eventually led to Brown being hired as a staff assistant in December 2004.

After spending a year in Aderholt’s office, Brown decided to go back to the University of Alabama for law school. Graduating with her J.D. in 2008, she then began work with a firm specializing in domestic relations law. However, Brown felt her career was not a good fit. “In law school, I enjoyed reading about domestic law, but in practice it was not necessarily for me. I knew that I wanted to get back, so I jumped at a recent opening in the Congressman’s office,— she said.

In March, Aderholt hired Brown as a staff assistant, the same position she held before.

When considering her previous time as staff assistant, Brown noted both similarities and differences. “Now I am a lot more capable of addressing the legislative side of things when the job requires it,— she said. With much of Aderholt’s staff unchanged since her previous time as staff assistant, Brown said the transition back was relatively smooth.

Brown also credits this smooth transition to her boss’s character. “Congressman Aderholt is a man of faith, which is an important part of my life. … He really models it out and sets a good example to follow.—

[IMGCAP(2)]Before college, Brown spent her entire life in the town of Albertville, Ala., in the northern part of the state. She said the experience of living in a small town gives her an added appreciation for the experiences Washington affords. “I get a chance to interact with people from varying backgrounds that I would not have had the chance to meet in northern Alabama,— she said.

Brown labels herself a “big theater fan— and performed in multiple theater productions during high school and throughout college. “I’ve performed in all sorts of musicals — The King and I,’ Camelot’ and Oklahoma.’ … Of course you’ve got to perform Oklahoma’ when you’re in a state like Alabama,— Brown said. Aderholt even came to see Brown perform in “The King and I— at an Alabama community theater between her time as a staff assistant and law school. Eventually, Brown hopes to participate in a Washington theater group.

Outside of theater, Brown has been involved in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure since college. This past October, she participated in a race held in Birmingham, Ala. As with her desire to become involved in a Washington theater group, she soon hopes to participate in charities fighting breast cancer in the Washington area.

Ultimately, Brown said her second time as a staff assistant should serve as a steppingstone for her future. Eventually, she hopes to advance to the legislative side of Aderholt’s office.

Although Brown sees herself working on the Hill well into the future, she remains close to her Alabama roots, saying, “I talk to my mom every day.—

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