PROFILE: Historic Moment Awes White House Intern
Communication major Stephen Rosfeld is getting an experience of a lifetime serving on the White House staff at a time that may be long remembered in history. In addition to seeing the real president, Rosfeld has met the fictional one from TV's "West Wing."
Date: 3/17/2003 8:00:00 AMFor a student who fell in love with politics during the presidential campaign of 2000, nothing could top landing an internship on the White House staff.
By: Marianne Kunnen-Jones
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Photos Courtesy of the Rosfeld Family
That’s where UC third-year communication major Stephen Rosfeld is. He’s thrilled to be a White House intern, although he didn’t care much about politics until he got involved in George W. Bush’s campaign for president. His five-month unpaid experience-of-a-lifetime began in January and will conclude in May.
Adding to the honor, Rosfeld says, is the timing. The June 2000 graduate of Moeller High School says he feels even more proud to serve as an intern at such an historic moment, as President Bush leads a war against terrorism and decides what to do about Saddam Hussein.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to do this,” says Rosfeld, a 20-year-old Kenwood resident and student in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. “I’m here at a very historical time.”
During his White House internship, Rosfeld reports to Andrew Ciafardini, a Cincinnati native who also attended UC and serves as a deputy director in the office of scheduling. Rosfeld, who was born in Atlanta and moved to Cincinnati in the first grade, serves as a research assistant. “I research events for the president, the events he will attend, the venues and organizations and the individuals he will meet. I prepare files with stacks of information. My supervisor takes the information from there.”
Being a UC student helped to break the ice a bit with Ciafardini when Rosfeld first met him. In Washington D.C., the intern has “really figured out that Ohio and Cincinnatians are a close-knit group here. There is a great sense of pride in the hometown and the college.”
Ciafardini’s boss, Brad Blakeman, director of presidential appointments and scheduling and deputy assistant to the president, took Rosfeld to lunch at the White House Mess. “My boss calls it the most exclusive restaurant in the world. It’s where the senior staff eats,” says Rosfeld. “It’s an elegant restaurant in the West Wing. It was an amazing experience. They gave me a menu to keep.”
The White House stands just a short walk from Rosfeld’s office, which sits in the Eisenhower Office Complex on the White House grounds. The office of Brad Blakeman is located in the White House, so Rosfeld has already been inside the White House a few times and walked around the West Wing.
Just like the television series West Wing depicts, the real West Wing can be awe-inspiring, Rosfeld says. Although the show over-dramatizes many things, Rosfeld notes one thing it does not over-do: the pride and commitment staff members feel. “It is very intense, and people know that their job is very important, and they are very dedicated to it.”
In his spare time on weekends, Rosfeld sees the sights of the nation’s capital with other interns. Many of those interns work jobs at night in order to finance their Washington stays. Rosfeld, fortunately, has parents who are able to help him pay rent, so he doesn’t work a second job.
At work on the White House staff, the intern has seen and met all kinds of people most of us see only on the nightly news. “I’ve seen Secretary Evans of Commerce and Secretary Ridge of Homeland Security.
“Seeing the president up close has been a highlight,” Rosfeld says. “I’ve seen him in the hallways mostly. On a daily basis, you don’t know who you’ll see. It’s kind of like a fantasy camp here. You see everything.”
President Bush comes to Rosfeld’s building sometimes to do press conferences or for meetings. “I have been in the hallway with good timing. I’ve been fortunate to see him a few times. I just stop in my tracks and watch him. He always has something in his hand that he is reading.”
In addition to seeing the real president of the United States, Rosfeld got to meet the fake one: Martin Sheen of West Wing. Rosfeld and his parents stopped to watch a presidential motorcade approach the White House in early January. Instead of President Bush, President Bartlett stepped out of the limousine.
“They were filming. We talked to Martin Sheen about Ohio since he’s from Dayton. He was a very nice man. I told him I worked for the real president, and he got a kick out of it. Even as liberal as he is, he was a really nice man,” said Rosfeld.
As rewarding as the White House internship is, the communication student also feels proud to be part of a family tradition of attending UC. His older brother, Doug Rosfeld, was captain of the football team for two years.