Fanta Toure, a senior from Philadelphia, Pa., is a Government major and English minor at Millersville University. She plans to graduate in May 2017.
Fanta was an intern at the White House for the fall 2016 semester.
How did you get your internship?
During fall 2015 and spring 2016 I applied for at least one internship per week. I stumbled upon the White House website, saw the application and applied. They needed two long essays; one a policy recommendation that could be sent to a senior staffer and one was on why you think public service is important. It was a long process with a two-three month waiting period. Over 25,000 people applied for 167 positions. I interviewed with the Office of the First Lady and on Aug. 6, I got the email that I was to start Sept. 6! I stayed at an international house with University of Maryland students. I got to meet a lot of people from all over. We became very close and still group message and text one another.
You must have an impressive resume to get the internship. Give us some highlights:
I’ve been very active with the NAACP; I was a Fellow for the national NAACP and serve as the president for the Millersville chapter. I’ve been a part of AmeriCorps and I’m the founder and CEO of the after-school program, “Step Ahead,” a college readiness program in the Delaware County/Philadelphia area that I started in 2014. I’ve also been a debater at Millersville. Last year, along with my partner Dina Haywood, we won the State System’s Frederick Douglass Debate. I’ll be competing again this year.
What were your duties at the White House?
I was one of 15 First Lady interns and one of four who worked on her correspondence. We read and responded to her mail and email, we drafted messages, helped with tours and events. She received over 3,000 pieces of mail a month and I got to read and respond to some of those letters. Since the First Lady is the hostess for the White House, I got to assist with the Italy State arrival, a BET Concert, Halloween Trick-or-Treat and even the Medal of Freedom ceremony. I’d come in early and stay late. One of the First Lady’s initiatives was “Let’s Move” and one aspect was healthy school lunches. Through that program I got to pick raspberries in the garden at the White House.
Were your parents worried about you?
The White House is the safest place in the world with all the security. My parents were thrilled and my mom called me 24/7. She loves to bowl and was overly excited about me getting to bowl at the White House. I was able to get my family a tour
Advice for other students?
The advice I got from the president and First Lady – be kind, be useful and be fearless. I think that’s the most important advice I ever got. It speaks to every avenue in your life; career, education and how you should interact with people. That’s what got me through the internship – I had to be fearless.
I plan to go to law school, I want to study constitutional law & civil rights defense.
What will you remember most about Millersville University?
My work with the NAACP, AmeriCorps. Professors who left a tremendous mark on me include; Drs. Rita Smith Wade-El, Richard Glenn and Adam Lawrence, as well as Dwight Horsey and Tom Richardson. They supported me. Without them I don’t know how far I would have gotten in my education or internship. I’m forever indebted to them.