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Internship in D.C. helps prepare ASWU president for career in public service

Justin BotejueJustin Botejue, '16, president of the Associated Students of Whitworth University for 2015-16, has taken advantage of every opportunity Whitworth has provided to help him be successful as a student and as he prepares for a career in shaping public policy.

"I am continuously amazed by the opportunities that happen because of Whitworth," Botejue says. "I've been able to live out dreams I thought would be only ideas rather than lived experiences."

In fall 2014, Botejue, a political science major, studied public policy for a semester in Washington, D.C., where he held an internship with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legislative Affairs. His studies and internship prompted him to realign his post-graduation goals.

"Through my classes in public policy, I began to see the interchange between law and the creation of law," Botejue says. "Thinking back to my experiences at the Department of Justice, I realized last summer that instead of fighting for justice with a law degree, as I originally planned, I would rather 'create' law by pursuing graduate studies in public policy."

Botejue's parents emigrated from Sri Lanka to the United States several years before he was born. He attended public schools in Anaheim, Calif., and says that Whitworth's focus on integrating faith and learning was a new concept for him. "I've really been able to find myself at Whitworth," he says. "My spiritual life has grown exponentially, and I've also been able to figure out my aspirations for the rest of my life: to honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity in public service."

Throughout his time at Whitworth, Botejue has cherished the mentoring he has received from his professors and from student-life staff members. Their support was especially evident to him when he served as senator of Stewart Hall and the Village residence halls on campus.

"It's great to see our faculty, administration and staff so intentionally involved in our student experiences and wanting us to succeed," Botejue says. "This commitment is definitely an aspect that sets Whitworth apart from any other college campus."

One lesson Botejue will carry from his Whitworth experience is the value of teamwork.

"Learning about team dynamics, orienting goals, and having fun while working together are all important preparations for my future," he says.

After graduating in May 2016, Botejue plans to apply his Whitworth education and experiences to pursuing graduate studies in public policy and government. He hopes to one day return Spokane and continue investing in the region.