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Student Spotlight: Ashton Smith

It’s a long way from Seguin, Texas to Washington, D.C., but TLU junior Ashton Smith has made the journey—and for good reason. Smith is currently interning with Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz, who serves Texas's 15th District which encompasses part of Guadalupe County and extends south to the Rio Grande Valley.

“I love Washington!” the political science and philosophy major says. “The land is beautiful, and the architecture of the city is well thought out. I will say the city is neither walkable nor drivable but an odd mix of both. The metro is convenient and fast, although driving is odd because D.C. is meant to model after European city styles. So here public transport is your friend (which for most Texans is out of our comfort zones). Also, it is a lot colder. That takes some getting used to.”

Chilly weather aside, Smith is most definitely catching his stride in D.C.—and is doing a stellar job in the congresswoman’s office. Josh Cortez, Senior Advisor to De La Cruz is quick to applaud his work there. “It has been an absolute pleasure to have Ashton Smith, a student from Texas’ Congressional District 15, as part of our Spring 2024 intern cohort,” he says. “His tenacity, willingness to help, and interest in the workings of the 118th Congress have made him a valued asset to our office and is a great reflection of the quality of students at Texas Lutheran University.”

So what does a typical day as an intern in a congresswoman’s office look like? “I have my day-to-day duties such as answering phones, greeting guests, logging constituents' concerns into a database, mailing, giving tours, collecting news articles to keep the congresswoman up to date in case of impromptu press,” Smith explains. “Every office is different. In Congresswoman De La Cruz’s office the interns work closely with the legislative staff. I go to hearings and take notes for the team when asked. I help gather information about bills that coincide with the boss’s ideologies in case she might want to sign on and show support.”

Clearly, the internship is giving Smith plenty of great hands-on experience. “It is challenging but I like it. It is fulfilling and there is never a dull day in the office. I have been here since January 5th and will be here until May 17th at the earliest.” He’s enjoying the work so much that he plans to look for a summer internship and stay on in D.C. up until next fall. He aims to graduate in May of 2025—but that’s just the beginning for Smith. “After graduation I plan to come back to D.C. for law school. I will take night classes and be a part-time student and become a full-time staffer for a member of congress. After I become a lawyer, I hope to become a judge and serve in the highest court possible.”

TLU couldn’t be prouder. “It’s very clear that Ashton Smith has hit the ground running as an intern in Congresswoman De La Cruz’s office, and is making an impact there,” says TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell. “The staff is utilizing him for research, connections on the Hill, and legislative work. All of us can be very proud of what Ashton is doing, and happy for all the ways his world is expanding through this opportunity.”

And when Smith does blaze that trail to Washington—to stay for good—he’ll carry with him plenty of great memories from his college years. “My favorite TLU memories would have to be Spring Fling 2023, Y2K with BSU (or any event we have hosted), or practicing with the football team and my brother.”

So what would Smith’s advice be to up-and-coming college students who are considering attending TLU? “I would tell them TLU is that perfect place where you can be a big fish in a small pond. There are so many opportunities to excel and stand out among others here. Here you get to build personal relationships with professors, and you get a fulfilling education. It is not that this cannot be done at a big university. However, at bigger schools it is a lot easier to get lost in the crowd and that is the unfortunate reality of those schools. Every student deserves an opportunity to stand out. That is what TLU is good for.”

Standing out. That is exactly what Ashton Smith is up to in life.