Two Sharp County residents intern at Senator Tom Cotton’s office
Two Sharp County residents, Amy Clay-Thomas and Ethan Barnes were given the experience of a life time during the summer as they traveled to Washington D.C. to intern at the office of Senator Tom Cotton.
According to Clay-Thomas, the two were selected for the internship based on resumes submitted to the senator’s office.
Barnes said it was not only an honor for the pair, but was also a unique and unusual situation that two people from the same hometown were selected for the positions.
“We stood out here in the community and Senator Cotton noticed it I think. We applied and were blessed to get chosen. We’re two locals from Sharp County and it’s rare to see two kids from the same town be chosen. A lot of times you’ll see kids from all over the country, from east to west coast serving the senate as an intern and so to be two not only from Arkansas, but the same town, is amazing,” Barnes said.
Clay-Thomas said that during the initial timeframe, there were between 12 to 14 interns who were present working in the office, however; over time the numbers grew.
“One main thing we did while we were there was to take care of was answering phones or voicemails. It was fun because we’d get to talk with the constituents, and pass along the messages about what they thought to the senator,” Clay-Thomas said. “We also were able to take pictures [at meetings] and sit in on a lot of the meetings. We’d see Senator Cotton a lot and he would acknowledge us. We also gave tours of the capitol to people who would come in from Arkansas and that was interesting.”
The day would typically begin prior to 9 a.m. and Barnes said the fast paced work environment was a learning experience.
“People from all over the country would contact his office and they were sharing their concerns with their United States Senator. We sometimes forget as constituents that we’re electing not just a representative for Arkansas but for the entire country. Yes, Arkansas should always come first but it’s the entire country he’s voting for,” Barnes said. “In our day to day’s, it’d be phone calls and that was one of the most rewarding things. We’d have calls from every corner of the state. We got a call one day from someone over in Cave City and also one from Cherokee Village.”
Barnes also said the experience has helped him to become more civically and politically minded. By hearing the voices of so many individuals from across the United States, he was able to gain better insight into the needs and concerns abroad.
“We are Americans and we are United States citizens from Arkansas and represent some of the most rural people in the country, so to be from a rural area like this and get to give our opinion for areas like our’s is rewarding,” Barnes said. “It’s rewarding to be able to apply our lifestyles and how we live to the ideals in Washington because things don’t always line up but if we can take what we’ve learned in D.C. and apply it at home to our local politics, our courthouse, city councils, chamber of commerce, community; to take what we learned in a faced paced nothing-to-90 office style in DC and apply it here,” was their overall goal, said Barnes.
Barnes and Clay-Thomas were both in agreement that although it may not always immediately appear as though work is being accomplished in D.C., those who are working, are working hard.
“If you’re reading this it’s a fact, life is different in D.C. I mean you get there and you’re working and you look up and it’s 3 o’clock and you realize you haven’t even eaten. They are working up there and we may think they’re not doing it justice but they are and are working hard. They’re serving the people and are putting Arkansas’ interest, first,” Barnes said. “You may need to call D.C. and just say - hey thanks for what you’re doing.”