Meet the 2017 Summer Fellows

The Monument Team would not be complete if it was not for our awesome Fellows Program. Former fellows have gone on to work for the Administration, think tanks, Members of Congress, law firms, and more. Our fellows serve an important role as contributors to our work here in the government relations, communications, and public affairs space. Before the summer comes to a close, we wanted to be sure to introduce you to our Summer 2017 Fellows.

Kathryn Urban

Name: Kathryn Urban
Hometown: Lakewood, OH
College: The George Washington University
Degree pursuing: International Affairs, Security Policy

What got you interested in politics?

It sounds idealistic, but I want to have an impact on the way we run our country. I grew up in a military family, and spent my whole life following the wars in the Middle East, so there’s a very ingrained idea that I need to do my part to go after the bad guys.

What is your favorite Monument in Washington D.C.?

That would have to be the Lincoln. The peristyle is one of my favorite places to study or read, because the view from up there is stunning! You can see the Potomac and the Tidal Basin, and in the mornings the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument line up perfectly in front of the sunrise.

What is your favorite book?

East of Eden or Of Mice and Men; I adore all of Steinbeck’s work. I’m consistently amazed at the way he adapts his writing style to mimic the voice of the narrating character.

What does true leadership mean to you?

Leading by example is one of the most critical characteristics, and good leaders should take on the longest hours and the toughest tasks. They should also devote time to developing future leaders, spending time one-on-one with their subordinates, offering criticisms designed to bring about improvement, and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each of their team members. The most important qualities, however, are accountability and integrity, both to subordinates and to superiors.

Where would you most like to travel?

Turkey! Visiting the Hagia Sophia is at the top of my bucket list, so spending some time in Istanbul would be incredible. I’m also an avid hiker, and would love to trek through the Toros-Aladaglar mountain range

Hometown: St. Louis, MO
College: Washington University in St. Louis
DEGREE PURSUING: Political Science and International Business

What got you interested in politics?

I have been interested in politics from a young age, and being a fairly precocious (read: annoying) child, I loved to share my political opinions with my elementary school classmates over apple slices at snack time. One of my favorite shirts as a child was one that read “I’d rather have a tree in the White House than a Bush”. I don’t think I knew what that meant entirely, but I acted like I did nonetheless.

Fast forward to my freshman year at Vanderbilt University, where I came in thinking I would be a classics major. By chance, I enrolled in Introduction to Comparative Politics, looking for a social sciences credit to fulfill my core curriculum requirements. Instead, I got a major and a career path inspiration – funny how that works, isn’t it? That class challenged me to think critically and to question my beliefs in a way that I had never done before. After freshman year, I transferred to Washington University in St. Louis where I joined their political science program, which is one of the top 10 in the nation. All of my coursework since that first fateful survey class encouraged me to ask why and to question the status quo. More importantly, it taught me that if I’m unhappy with the answer I find, I’d better get to D.C. and start changing it.

What is your favorite Monument in Washington D.C.?

I live very close to the Lincoln Memorial and I run by it fairly often, although my favorite time to go is at night when there aren’t as many tourists around. The view down the reflecting pool is absolutely iconic, and I’m always in awe of how gigantic the Lincoln statue is. Best of all, there’s usually an ice cream truck in the area!

If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?

At this point in my life, I would name a book about myself “Don’t Panic” because that’s the first piece of advice people give me regarding the future. As graduation draws ever nearer and I will be pushed out of my college bubble into the real world, that phrase is a friendly reminder not to mistake excitement for nervousness or freedom of choice for fear of failure. I’ve been through a number of big transitions in my life – like transitioning from Vanderbilt to Wash U to continue my college career, or from St. Louis to Madrid to study for 6 months – and all of them have turned out to be incredible experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So, when thinking about the big, ominous transition ahead of me, I remind myself that it’s just another opportunity to explore and excel, and above all: DON’T PANIC.

If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?

I would want to see the fall of the Berlin Wall. I took a class entirely on the Cold War last year, and having studied the entire conflict from 1940 to 1991, I gained a real appreciation for what that event meant on a historical and political level. I would have liked to witness it so that I could appreciate what it meant on a personal level to the citizens of Germany and to the world at that time. I’ve also seen pieces of the wall in cities across the world – in Berlin, in Madrid, in a random town in Missouri, and now in D.C. at the Newseum!

What accomplishment in your life thus far are you most proud of?

Being selected as co-chair of Relay For Life at Wash U. Relay is the major fundraising program for the American Cancer Society and it takes place in colleges and communities across the country. The first time I participated in Relay was actually at Wash U when I was a senior in high school, and after losing someone close to me to cancer I completely fell in love with the significance and impact of the event. I have been involved all throughout college, starting as a committee member at Vanderbilt and now as the co-chair at Wash U, directing a board of 40 students in planning and executing the 8th largest mid-size collegiate Relay. It’s truly an organization that brings out my passion and being able to lead it this year is the most affirming senior year capstone I could imagine. I’m sure I’ll be even prouder when we surpass our $200,000 fundraising goal at the event in April!

Name: Olivia Koscso
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
College: Wake Forest University
Degree pursuing: Politics & International Affairs

What got you interested in politics?

I’ve had an unofficial routine with my father since I was little, where we’d sit down and watch the news together every evening before dinner. He’d always explain the things I couldn’t understand when I was really young, and that eventually evolved into more interesting conversations about the state of the world as I got older. That, coupled with my lucky history of having inspiringly good teachers throughout my life, has kept my political enthusiasm constant. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school, with an engaging AP Government teacher, that I considered doing more with my interest than simply following the news. Outside of the Monday-Thursday lessons about the technical ways in which the US government operates, my teacher would start every Friday class with current events and an open-forum discussion about global news. Being a boarding school, the class was filled with quite a diverse group of girls, some being international students, and others being from all different parts of the country. These discussions would sometimes get relatively heated, which was surprisingly pretty fun for me, and even though I rarely agreed with the personal opinions of my teacher and some of my classmates, she always inspired me to become more informed and track domestic government issues on my own time – I have ever since.

I am now a rising senior in college, pursuing a Politics & International Affairs degree, with a minor in Sociology. Studying how economic and educational policy affects crime in America is a topic that my major and minor have particularly guided me towards. As idealistic as it may be, I still view the work of public officials as honorable. The most genuine reasoning behind influencing policy in order to make the country a better place may be naïve, but it’s what I think an underrated amount of people still come to DC to do.

What is your favorite Monument in Washington D.C.?

For a few reasons, my favorite Monument is the Washington Monument. DC is a city with so much history and so many architecturally beautiful monuments, that it’s hard to pick just one. From the Washington Monument, you can see the Capitol (probably my favorite building in the city), the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and then of course, the Washington Monument itself is pretty exciting. It’s a non-political symbol of patriotism that is always appreciated when DC can become so polarized. Additionally, my best friend and I live on opposite sides of the city, and at least twice a week, we walk to the Monument to meet (roughly) in the middle and hang out.

What is your dream job?

Outside of politics, I’d love to be a music supervisor for movies. I could watch movies all day long without feeling guilty or lazy, and the one thing that always sticks out to me in every scene is the music choice – as nerdy as it is, I always have my Shazam app ready to identify the discovery of a good new song whenever I sit down to watch a movie for the first time. Following small indie rock/folk bands in my spare time is a hobby of mine.

What is your favorite book?

The Catcher in the Rye – although this book probably resonates with a more adolescent audience, I think it’s timeless. I appreciate the main character’s (Holden Caulfield’s) humor, genuineness, and directness.

What is your favorite quote?

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Dr. Maya Angelou