Helen Langfeldt, BA’14, is working in the nation’s capital today because of Creighton University.
As a junior undergraduate studying political science, Langfeldt spent a semester learning and working in Washington, D.C., through Creighton’s Capitol Hill Internship Program. There, she and her fellow students attended classes while working as interns four days a week.
After graduation, the chief of staff that Langfeldt worked under during her internship approached her about a job as a staff assistant in the office of (now former) U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minnesota. Four years later, Langfeldt is still in Washington, serving as a congressional advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development.
“Had I not come to D.C. my junior year, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Langfeldt says. “Creighton gave me that opportunity.”
Growing up in Minneapolis, Langfeldt knew of Creighton as the school where her grandfather received his bachelor’s and medical degrees. Near the end of her senior year in high school, she made the decision to attend herself.
“I fell in love with the campus,” she says. “It required me to be a lot more independent. I went there without knowing anyone. No one from high school had applied. I was six and a half hours away from my family.”
Langfeldt decided to major in political science after taking an introduction to government class taught by associate professor Scott Hendrickson, PhD. As she progressed through her degree program, she came to appreciate the more technical aspects of government policy, particularly after taking a research seminar taught by professor Terry Clark, PhD, that focused heavily on data analysis.
“It’s not just talking about politics. There is a science to it that I think people tend to forget,” Langfeldt says. “(Clark’s class) was by far the most challenging class I took at Creighton, but it was also the most educational and something that really pushed me and forced me to work really hard.”
In her current role with the USDA, Langfeldt and others work to advance initiatives that foster economic growth in rural communities across the country. The Office of Rural Development helps to ensure rural areas have access to critical infrastructure like broadband internet and community facilities such as hospitals and schools. Langfeldt specifically handles inquiries from congressional offices, making sure the office is delivering accurate, up-to-date information.
“With my current job, it’s amazing to know that I’m working with an organization that does such amazing work. … We’re trying to improve the lives of people who live in really rural America,” she says. “It’s definitely a meaningful organization that does quite a bit of work to help those in need.”
Langfeldt says her time at Creighton prepared her for government work, which requires critical thinking and an open mind. While studying at the University, she says, she participated in robust classroom discussions that helped instill in her the value of informed debate and policy.
“One of the big things that Creighton did was push me out of my comfort zone,” Langfeldt says. “You looked at both sides of an argument, and that was something that was beneficial for me with going into politics. It teaches you to look at things from every angle instead of jumping to conclusions.”