Digication Scholars Conversations

In this episode, Thaddaeus Canuel shares his journey from studying political science and psychology to discovering his passion for politics through internships.

Thaddaeus is a recent alumnus from Arizona State University.

He highlights the importance of reflecting on internship experiences through ePortfolios and how it helped him showcase his skills and growth.

Thaddaeus's internship experience led to a permanent position in Senator Kyrsten Sinema's office, marking a pivotal moment in his career.

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What is Digication Scholars Conversations?

Digication Scholars Conversations...

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

In this episode, you'll hear
my conversation with Thaddaeus

Canuel, a recent graduate
of Arizona State University.

More links and information about today's
conversation can be found on Digication's

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Full episodes of Digication Scholars
Conversations can be found on

YouTube or your favorite podcast app.

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

And today I am so excited to
introduce Thaddaeus Canuel.

Thaddaeus is a recent alumni
from Arizona State University.

And I happened to learn about
Thaddaeus from his ePortfolio,

which was so beautifully shared in
the school's ePortfolio directory.

And I actually had a chance to Have
a wonderful conversation with one

of his teachers, Gina Woodall, who
oversees many of the internships that

happen at Arizona State University
in the political science area.

And Thaddaeus ePortfolio is a
result of one of those ePortfolios.

So Thaddaeus, thank you so
much for joining me today.

I'm really excited to give you the
opportunity to tell your story.

Yeah, thank you.

It's a pleasure to be here.

I'm excited.

So I mentioned Thaddaeus
is a recent alumni.

Thaddaeus, could you tell us a
little bit about what you majored

in at Arizona State University?

Yes, absolutely.

So, um, I actually did a double major.

And so, um, I studied political
science, um, and psychology.

And so, um, now I'm happy to
say I have, uh, two bachelors.

It's very exciting.

Very exciting.

And, um, as I mentioned, I, I learned
about you from your ePortfolio.

Um, at what point in your studies did
you start, um, taking courses with Gina?

How did you get involved in
this internship experience?

Well, it's actually really funny because
this internship class was the first.

first time that I'd really
interacted with, uh, uh,

with Gina, um, significantly.

Um, I was in this, uh, it was the School
for, um, Politics and Global Studies is

the school at ASU, uh, that I was in.

And, um, I'd been with several professors
before who had spoken, um, very fondly

of, uh, Gina and, um, like Professor
Strickland, um, Things like that, um, and

so it was actually Professor Strickland
who got me onto this internship track.

Um, it was last summer, summer
22, that, um, I interned in D.


in the House of Representatives.

Um, and it was because Professor
Strickland had nominated me.

Um, for this internship program, uh, with
the Fund for American Studies, uh, TFAS.

And, um, that just, basically,
it lit a fire inside of me.

I had a huge passion for working
in politics then from that point

on, and so then, um, I managed
to get another internship in DC.

And so I took that internship program,
um, I took that internship class, uh,

with Gina and, uh, working with her to
do my portfolio and learning everything

that I did for my, um, internship
and doing the reports and everything.

It was just, um, that, that semester
was just a wonderful experience for me.


And I look forward to
hearing more about that.

And one of my questions, uh,
about the, the latest internship,

what was the duration of that?

How long did you get to spend time in DC?

So it was for about
four, almost five months.

Um, it was for the entirety of
the, of the spring 2023 semester.

I was there from January until I was
there from early January to early May.

Um, so yeah, four or five months.


So, before you came to ASU, you
mentioned that you had a double major.

Had you always been interested
in studying political science?

What, what led you in that
direction from the beginning?

Uh, Yes, I have always
been interested in that.

It's actually a really funny story.

So, um, I had been involved with
politics and the law and the

court since sixth grade, actually.

I joined a court program, a mock
trial club in sixth grade, yeah.

And I had been involved with that for
all three years of middle school, and

then when I went to high school um, At
my high school, there's this really cool

organization called, um, the Arizona
Teen Court Association where, um, I, uh,

where we were able to have a peer jury
trial for, um, adolescents in, um, our

area who had committed misdemeanors.

And, um, they had, in trial, they had
already pled guilty, and so then the judge

refers them to our program, and then we
basically conduct a trial where we, um,

find out, um, why they did what they did,
and learn their story, um, And then from

that, we determine what, um, reparations
will be necessary for them to repair

the harm that they've, uh, committed
to their, uh, that they've inflicted

on the community, things like that.

And then it's really awesome because
then, um, once they fulfill these

reparations, their records are cleaned,
um, it gives them a second chance,

um, and the program is incredible.

It's been proven to reduce
recidivism rates dramatically, um,

I think it's almost, it's over 90%.

of the adolescents who come through the
teen court program, um, do, do not get,

um, do not get detained again by police.

And so it's a really incredible
program and I loved it.

And so, um, just being involved
with this, this, these types of

programs since middle school.

All the way until I graduated and
went to ASU, um, I just, I knew that

it was always going to be something
that I was going to be involved in.

And so, um, yeah, I studied political
science, um, just from the get go.

I was just, I just knew that it was
something that I always wanted to do.

Well, what an incredible experience
for you to have had in middle school

and then in high school working with
You know, you already got to have these

kind of real world opportunities, and
I imagine that that, you know, being

able to see your impact on the youth
that were really on both sides, right?

Um, those that were involved in the, the
trial and the, um, Individuals that were

kind of growing from those experiences
that they had that led them to be

in that position in the first place.

Um, and wonderful to hear that
it's made such market change

on the community there too.

Um, sounds like that's really
set people on a lot of.

Positive paths on on both sides.

Um, so I was curious before you
were, um, working in the ePortfolio.

I know 1 of the big reasons that it's
been implemented at Arizona State

University and used in the, um, political
science kinds of disciplines is so that.

Students are having an opportunity
to really reflect on their various

learning experiences that they're having.

And was that something that you
had been accustomed to before

you started using the ePortfolio?

And how did you use it as
part of your internship?

Um, well, yeah, I guess I would say I
wasn't very accustomed to doing stuff

like that before, um, it was, um, yeah,
it was definitely, yeah, not something

I was very used to, um, because then
people would just, I would just, my

previous internships, people would
just ask me, it's like, oh, what did

you do at your previous internship?

And I was like, oh, I did it.

Like this and that, just trying to like,
come up with stuff off the top of my head.

But then, um, right?

Um, but then, um, this portfolio actually,
it did really help me, especially, um,

because with our, um, with our class.

Um, it was like, you need to update
your ePortfolio regularly, um,

as like part of your assignments.

And I was like, okay,
yeah, I'm gonna do that.

Um, and so any major project that
I'd worked on in my internship,

I made sure I got a copy of
it to put into my ePortfolio.

Um, I mean, you said
you like looked over it.

So like one of my One of my pages,
it's that, um, there's several, like,

reports that I wrote, or honestly,
even I've managed to get one of the

copies of, like, the bill text of,
uh, of a bill that I had to analyze.

Um, I was able to put all that in.

And so, um, putting those things in on
a regular basis and putting in those,

um, trying to, trying to critically,
um, evaluate, like, the skills that I

was developing and honing while I was in
this internship and putting those into my

portfolio, I think it did really help me,
um, and especially now that, um, even, I

don't necessarily even have to refer to
my ePortfolio to really know what I did

in that internship when people ask me.

It's because I did that.

It's because I did that it, like,
grounded me in my internship and

really helped me to see everything
that I did and everything that I

benefited from, from that internship.

And so now it's much easier for me if,
you know, if they say, what did you

do at your internship in the house?

I'll still kind of be like, eh,
like, let me think for a second.

But then if they say, what did you
do in your internship at the senate?

I'll be like, oh, I got you.

I got this, this, this.

Like, so it definitely helped me.

to fully realize the benefits that
I gained from this internship.

So yeah, I'm definitely grateful for it.

Oh, that's wonderful.

And those are definitely the
stories that we like to hear.

And it's one of the reasons that I think
it's so important to include the student

perspective in these conversations too.

I know when Many, uh, educators
start using the, um, what we

kind of call folio thinking or,
um, portfolio kinds of pedagogy.

We often are aware that students may be
creating the ePortfolios as part of a

class experience, internship experience,
but it's something that You know,

those are, that are using it mindfully
really want it to be a value for the

student, even beyond that particular
course or even time at the institution.

And one of the things that research
has shown is that The, as students are

kind of going through that process and
reflecting on their learning, whether

they do have the opportunity to share
their portfolio with people outside of

the school or not, that they've become
much better communicators about their

skills, what those learning experiences,
um, really did for them, how it's shaped

them as a person and can often kind of You
know, sometimes serve as solidifying the

trajectory that they might be on, but also
may bring some things to light that create

opportunities for students to pivot and
what they may want to do in the future,

whether it's, um, you know, pursuing
different things within their education or

what kind of career path they may go on.

Um, so I was curious as part of the.

Internship experience.

You mentioned that there's a number
of different examples of work that you

did during your time at the Senate.

Some of the reports and,
um, things of that nature.

What was the process
like for you to kind of.

Choose what you wanted to include within
the ePortfolio, because it seems like that

was somewhat open, um, because everybody
was having different kinds of experiences.

So what kind of artifacts or
pieces of work were you selecting

that you wanted to share?

And were there any kind of permissions
that you needed to get from the people

that you were working with at the Senate?

How did you kind of handle
what you wanted to put in?

Who you were going to share
it with and how you were going

to get the okay to do so.

Um, yeah, absolutely.

Well, it was actually pretty easy.

I mean, uh, basically for my, uh, for
how I decided what I wanted to include,

I was basically the things that took
the most effort and the most time.

Like, um, I know I put in the,
um, NDAA, uh, the National Defense

Authorization Act for 2023.

Um, because, um, that's, like, basically
the budget bill for the Department

of Defense, and, um, it, I spent,
like, It must have been two, three,

maybe even four weeks, like, almost
an entire month, like, working on this

bill, analyzing it, going through all
the appropriations, and seeing, like,

what, where funds got appropriated to,
um, if Arizona got any, um, bill, if

Arizona got any funds, because, um,
I'm from Arizona, I was working for an

Arizona senator, um, and, yeah, it was
just so much work, and so I got to the

end, and I was like, Oh, no, no, no.

We are, we're putting
this in the Portfolio.

Like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna,
I'm gonna get credit for this.

Like, um, so I think
definitely those ones.

But then it's also, you know, on a less
pragmatic note, it's just like, those are

the ones that were the most significant
to me, that meant the most to me.

And I was like, I did
really good work here.

And so I want to, I want
to demonstrate that.

Um, And then, um, a lot of the other ones
were reports on committee hearings, um,

so those ones were pretty interesting.

Those ones took me usually the
better part of a day, um, because

they'd be transcribing and
summarizing the questions and the

comments made and things like that.

So yeah, just the things that I was
basically the proudest of, uh, were the

things that I put into the Portfolio.

Um, and then actually getting permission
was really easy, uh, because, um,

honestly everything that I put in,
um, I didn't really need permission

because it's, it's all public record.

Um, the NDAA, um, was, is publicly
available on congress.gov, um, and Um, all

the committee notes, um, I mean, yes, they
were my work for the office, but the thing

is, they were transcriptions and summaries
of committee hearings that were also

publicly available and things like that,
so I didn't really need permission for

any of those, um, just because they were
already public knowledge, so I was just,

yeah, just threw them in, so, but yeah,
so yeah, that was my process, definitely

the stuff I was the proudest of, um, and
yeah, it's easy to put in, um, so yeah.

So Thaddaeus, you mentioned as part
of your internship in DC that it

lasted around four to five months.

And as part of this kind of reflective
practice, how often were you adding

new materials to your ePortfolio?

And with all of the, um, Many
things that you were handling day

to day as part of the internship.

I know you were very busy.

How are you able to kind of set
aside time to create those beautiful

reflections that you have shared
alongside the various documents and

experiences within your portfolio?

Um, yeah, absolutely.

So, um, honestly, I feel like one
of the first things I should do

is, um, thank Professor Woodall,
Gina, because, um, the way she set

up the class was kind of genius.

Um, so,

it's almost like she knows what she's
doing, like, yeah, but, um, so the way she

had the class set up was that, um, I think
she had us, um, Update our portfolios as

an actual assignment, um, maybe four or
five times across the entire semester.

Um, however, in addition to that, we
also had these, um, assignments where

each week we had to submit an update of
our internship and what was going on.

And so then what I did was I
had a little notebook with me.

And I would have, um, the days
of the week written on my, in my

little notebook, Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

And so then, at the end of each day
for my internship, I'd just take, like,

10, 20 seconds, just jot down, like,
the, like, the two or three, like,

big things that happened that day.

It'd be like, this is the project
I worked on, this is what was

going through my head at the time.

Or like, this is the big thing that
went through my head that day and, um,

this is, um, you know, the thing that
had the biggest impact on me, um, and

sometimes those would be, sometimes
that would be, like, a committee

hearing, um, or sometimes that would
be, um, uh, sometimes that would just

be talking to a constituent on the
phone who just had, like, a really

powerful story that I really enjoyed
hearing about, um, that kind of thing.

And so, then, at the end of the week,
when the assignment was due, I'd go over

those notes, and then I'd type up my,
um, update, usually, like, paragraph to,

like, a page, about, and I'd submit it,
um, and then, when those assignments came

up to update the Portfolios, actually,
what I did a lot of times was that I

went back to those notes, and I went
back to those weekly updates to read

through, kind of, all of them and be like,
okay, I can see, like, the overarching

themes here, and Um, I can see how my
skill set in this specific area, um,

was improved and things like that.

And so I was able to work on
those and, uh, I was able to

update my portfolio in that way.

And, um, I feel like those, um, that
self reflection stuff, um, that stuff

is, um, kind of for a while it's been
kind of easy for me now because, um, I

also, I love to, um, I love to write.

In my, um, kind of in my free time, um,
I play around with like fictional stories

and I write stuff like that all the time.

And so, you know, like one of the big
facets of that is, you know, kind of

delving into a character's mindset and
kind of like, what are they thinking?

What are they feeling?

So the thing is, is that
in my free time, I do that.

So I'm already kind of used to it.

So it's definitely easier for me to,
you know, write down a reflection

about a project that I worked on
or my reflection on how my skills

in this one area, um, were honed
over the course of the internship.

Um, so, yeah, I feel like, uh,
my proclivity in my hobbies,

um, and then also, um, Dr.

Gina Woodall's, um, genius, um, class
structuring is definitely helping me,

uh, definitely helped me to hone in
this portfolio, um, to the point where,

yeah, I think I, um, I think I worked on
that portfolio, um, Maybe once every few

weeks, um, maybe once every month, maybe.

But, um, because of, like, all the
groundwork that I was laying, because

of the internship class, um, I was able
to put so much into that portfolio every

time that I came to look at it, even
if it was, like, really once a month.



And I think it's a great strategy that you
had during your day to day to just kind

of jot down for yourself some of the kind
of key things that were happening, you

know, these kinds of learning moments and
feelings that you were having experiences

that happened that day that you could
draw from as you were drafting these.

Longer form kinds of reflections
within the, within the Portfolio.

And were you provided with any kind
of, um, prompts as part of developing

the Portfolio, where there are things
that were kind of embedded in the

Portfolio pages that you were responding
to, or maybe that were part of the

assignment that you had received
that were helping kind of guide how

those reflections might be written.

Um, I guess not.

Um, not like explicitly, um, it was kind
of one of those things where, um, Dr.

Woodall had, um, the assignment on, and
then, um, you know, at the very beginning

of the semester, she was like, your big
thing is going to be this ePortfolio,

um, at the end of the semester, you
should have, like, a gorgeous ePortfolio

that fully encompasses your entire
internship, um, and so then, right,

pretty much, like, um, but then, uh, she
would, uh, she had several examples down.

Um, and then she did kind of have
like kind of a basic overview, a basic

description, um, I can't even quite
remember what it was, but um, I got

the general idea, but I think most
of the inspiration did come from the

examples, um, honestly, actually,
what I did, I think was, um, I, um,

basically, whenever I was working on
my portfolio, I'd have like one or two

of the examples, like in another tab,
on my computer so I could look and see

like, okay, I see what they did here.

Um, and so I see it was like, oh,
they did like these three, four

skills, characteristics, and they
expanded on them in this portfolio.

So let me think what three or four
characteristics or skills that I feel

were the most relevant to my internship.

And let me expand on that.

Um, a lot of that, I was going
into, um, a lot of that went into.

So I drew a lot of inspiration
from the examples that Dr.

Woodall had provided.

I was just gonna say that I think
it's, um, wonderful that you were

able to see examples that were
created by students in the past.

Um, I know ASU has put a lot of time and.

Thought into creating, um, templates
for students that have some guidance and

scaffolding in place, um, for different
experiences that they might be having.

And you mentioned that many
of the different pages kind

of right at the beginning.

Set several different
skills right at the top.

So for those that are actually viewing
the Portfolio as you're going through

different pages, You see those skills
listed and that almost gives you a

kind of sense of the narrative that
you're going to have the opportunity

to read more into as your, you know,
interests may carry you through

the various pages of the Portfolio.

So it's a really smart kind of
strategy in guiding viewers.

Through the various types of content
and skills that you're going to be

describing and, you know, kind of setting
the stage as you're moving through the

Portfolio, everything that you've been
able to gain as part of this experience

and growth that you've had, um, having
these kinds of real world experiences.

Um, and it's interesting to hear.

You know, as you were crafting the
various portfolios that you were kind

of thinking about those skills first and
using that as a kind of guiding structure

for developing the reflections and
narratives that, um, now live alongside

those, um, incredible documents that
you've shared in the, in the Portfolio.

Um, so I had a, um, question for you.

You know, when you were taking part
in this internship experience, you

mentioned that you were sharing
the Portfolio as it was being

developed with your, uh, professor.

At any point, were you sharing it with
other peers that were in your classes?

Did you ever, um, share, you
know, links with family or did you

share it with people that were?

Also participating in the internship,
whether it's people that were supervising

you there or other peers that I don't
know if you were placed with other

peers in the same place, but you know,
what was the kind of audience around

your portfolio as it was being created?

And has that changed at
all since you've graduated?

I don't know if it's something that
you still share with others today.

So, um, yeah, so during my, um, semester,
it was, um, I think one of the things

that I was kind of bummed about, um, in
this class was that, um, most of the other

students in the program were, uh, mostly
in Arizona, and were studying there.

Um, and then here I am, um, clear
across on the other side of the country,

across like three different time zones.

here in DC.

And so, um, that was one of the things
that I was slightly kind of bummed out

about because, um, I didn't really have
much chance to interact with the other

students in the, um, in the class.

Um, yeah.

So, um, I mean, the most opportunity
that I had to interact with them was

that we had a couple of, um, we had
a couple of, um, discussion boards,

um, in Canvas for the assignment.

Um, So, yeah, I would have liked to have
interacted with them more, um, but I mean,

besides that, um, I did share it with some
of my classmates, um, or I did share it

with some of my, um, colleagues, sorry, in
the internship, um, one of my colleagues,

um, she's still a very good friend of
mine, um, she was here, um, she was also

from ASU here in DC, um, in a different
program, um, and she was also doing...

Uh, I think she was also doing an
ePortfolio, um, and, uh, so we kind of

compared notes, um, talking about, or,
like, sharing kind of like, oh, okay,

like, this is what I'm getting from the
internship, or this is what I'm doing,

um, and, um Yeah, it was kind of a really
cool experience to kind of compare our

portfolios because like, we were having
the same, we were from the same school,

we were from the same state, we were
working for the same senator, and we

were doing the same Portfolios, but then
even then, our portfolios were actually

kind of like significantly different.

And I was, um, it was very intriguing
to like see the differences between

our portfolios because like, oh my
gosh, like, I didn't even realize

that you were getting this from this.

I didn't even realize you were
getting this from this internship.

Like, that's really cool.

Um, that kind of thing.

Um, so yeah, definitely.

Um, it was definitely really cool to
be able to compare our portfolios.

And I do wish I did have a chance
to, uh, share my portfolios

more and kind of engage more
with my classmates in the class.

Like, I definitely would have
loved to have met with them and

be kind of like, Hey, let's go
over our portfolios and stuff.

And I would love, I would have
loved to learn more about their

internships as well, because I
know some of them were interning

for the, um, Arizona State Senate.

Um, and I know some of
them were interning.

I think one of them was interning
for like, the Arizona Attorney

General and things like that.

Um, so I would have been like, oh my
gosh, I would have, I would love to,

I would have loved to have been able
to learn more about their internships,

but I think it was just like, just
the distance and the time difference.

It was, wasn't very feasible,
but you know, it's okay.

I'm still very grateful for my experience.

And I also wanted to, uh, ask you to,
um, you mentioned that, you know, you

do a lot of creative writing in your
free time and may have kind of a natural

inclination and and passion for writing.

Um, for, for students that might not have,
um, You know, that same kind of drive,

uh, for writing that may be embarking
on this, uh, portfolio experience.

Do you have any advice for them about
how to kind of maybe think about

the experiences that they're having?

What, what are some of the kind
of mindsets that you have when you

sit down to, to write about your,
yourself and your experiences?

Gosh, that is a, that is a good
question, because, um, in my interactions

with a lot of people, I have really
found that there are pretty much,

like, in that world, there really
are, like, two types of people.

There are the types of people who, uh,
will just, who love to read, like, live

and breathe the stuff, and love to write.

And, um, their brains are just
spouting out, like, entire universes,

and stuff like that, and it
just comes so naturally to them.

And then there are those
who aren't like that.

And there isn't really, there isn't
really any in between, I've noticed.

Um, and so And it really does
seem to just be, like, people's

brains just work differently,
and so people who are proclu...

Who have a proclivity for, like, reading
or writing, it's really something

that's, like, innate in them, and
then, yeah, the people who aren't,

I mean, they're usually, like, so
smart in other ways, like, oh my gosh,

math, They'll be like math geniuses.

And I'll be like, you know,
I, you know, I got algebra.

I understood that.

I got the calculus.

I was like, what the heck is this crap?

So, um, I'm like, good on them.

Like, love that for them.

And so, gosh, trying to think, um, so
it was a very long winded way of saying,

like, it's a difficult question because
these people who don't, these people

who aren't inclined to read and write,
their brains work very differently.

And so, um, I'm trying to come up with
advice for them is, um, really difficult.

I mean, I would say, um, maybe for,
I could see, like, with movies and

stuff like that, when, like, characters
talk about themselves, like, in

movies or Um, anything like that.

Um, just, um, thinking about,
like, what's going on in their

heads during the movies, um, that's
something that I try to do as well.

Um, or like, you know, like, in the rom
coms, there's always that, like, that

tension rises up, and then there's the,
there's the obligatory, like, Burst of

love confession that always happens in,
like, the rom coms, and it's hilarious.

And the thing is, I think
of it kind of like that.

If, um, if people aren't inclined
to, like, read and write, I'd

be like, think about that.

Like, think about something where
suddenly they're just spewing

everything out, um, or, um, you know,
writing letters to people and things

like that, explaining how they feel.

Um, just kind of those Kind of
maybe putting it into, like, a real

world context, be like, pretend that
you are talking to somebody else.

Try to explain how you felt or, um,
what you learned, what you experienced.

Um, just try to put it into a real world
context, pretending that you are writing

a letter or writing a report for somebody.

Um, I think, like,
that's how I would do it.

Um, Because I feel like real, real world
applications are always so important,

especially for those people who are
usually more grounded in, you know,

logic and math and that kind of stuff,
I would definitely be like, put it in

a real world context, pretend that it
is Something that you're doing like for

a superior or you're writing a letter
to somebody who needs to know like

your experiences and stuff like that.

I guess that would be how I'd do it.

Um, real world applications
are always, um, a great thing.

Um, I'm a very hands on person.

I love real world applications.

So I guess that would be like my
number one, uh, recommendation.

Thank you.

I think that's very useful.

And it kind of goes back to this
conversation about the The audience around

the ePortfolio too, you know, if you're
thinking about as you're writing the

reflections, you know, who, who do you
want to, who do you want the reader to be?

Who do you want the viewer
of your experiences to be?

Um, Even if it may be more limited
in the beginning, how might you

share it more openly in the future?

Um, you know, if that's your,
if that's your preference.

Um, so I was also curious, um, Thaddaeus,
that, um, do you think that this kind

of reflective practice, um, now that
you had it as part of that internship

experience is something that you'll.

continue using now that you've graduated?

Oh, goodness.

Um, I certainly hope so.

Um, because I think it was so valuable.

Um, I think, um, oh, goodness gracious.

Um, because I feel like there's
always room for self reflection.

I think self reflection and introspection
is always such an important part of life.

Um, because I feel if you don't,
Um, I feel like you're not going

to make any real progress unless
you really understand yourself.

You're not going to be able to
understand what's going on outside

of you without the context of
understanding what happens inside of you.

Um, because, um, I think one of the things
I learned a very long time ago, and it's

something that I say a lot actually, um,
that, um, perspectives are subjective.

And we experience reality through our,
uh, perspective, and so even if we are

observing, like, an objective reality,
that is still, our observation of that

objective reality is still gonna be a
subjective, is still gonna be subjective.

Because the way we interpret it and
the way we perceive it is subjective

based off of our own, um, our own minds
and our own, the way our brain works.

And so I feel that introspection and
that self reflection and examining how

we're learning, how we're growing, how
we're thinking is so important because

we need to have that understanding to
put our surroundings and our environment

into the context of our perceptions.

Um, and so, I definitely hope that I
will continue using these skills, and

I, um, I think I have been, maybe not
so much, um, maybe not so explicitly

as, like, writing down a paragraph of,
like, this is how I'm reflecting on this,

but definitely using those skills in my
head more, kind of being like, okay, I'm

seeing how I'm learning from this, I'm
seeing how this can affect me down the

road, um, and that kind of thing, but no,
I definitely, um, I definitely want to

make sure that I keep this in my life,
because, um, um, Again, I don't feel

like, I don't feel like you're going to
be able to move forward in life and truly

learn and grow from your surroundings
without putting it into the context of

your own personal perspective because your
personal perspective, um, is the strongest

influence in your life because, again, it
is how you, your perspective is how you

process everything in your surroundings.

So, um, definitely understanding that and
making sure that you're able to grow and

recognize that growth is so important.

Thank you.

Um, that was Really beautifully said.

And as you were speaking, I was
recalling a conversation we had.

We weren't, um, recording at the time,
but we were having a conversation

about how, um, life can often
provide opportunities to pivot.

And, um, I was wondering as part of your
own kind of journey and, and growth, if

you have any moments like that, that you
might like to share with our listeners.

Oh my gosh, um, I definitely have one.

Um, I might have another, I'm just
trying to remember, but the number

one that I think is the most, is the
most hilarious is, um, yeah, my big

pivot in my senior year of high school.

Because, um, as I was saying, I'd
been doing court works and teen work,

teen court, um, like through middle
school and through high school.

It was like, it was my,
that was my extracurricular.

Like, that was what I did.

Um, and even for the Teen Court,
um, I, um, I joined, in my

freshman year of high school, I
joined the Teen Court Association.

Um, sophomore year, I became the
treasurer, and then junior and

senior year, I was the president.

Um, and so, um, that was
like, that was my thing.

And, um, but it was really funny
because this entire time I have been

wanting to go into engineering because
I am a sci fi junkie, I love Star

Trek, I love Star Wars, I love it.

And so I wanted to be
an aerospace engineer.

I wanted to design, like, the
spaceships and the space stations

that we would use to, like, launch
ourselves into the space age.

Like, that's what I wanted to do.

Um, but then, in junior
year, I took Calculus 1.

And I did not do well.

And so, um, I went into senior
year basically realizing, like,

wow, engineering is not for me.

And so then, um, I basically had,
like, kind of this, this crisis,

because I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm going
into my senior year of high school.

I'm going to college next year, and
I have no idea what I want to do.


But then, um, I kind of re evaluated
myself, and then I realized, I was

like, oh my gosh, I've been doing
court, I've been doing, like, court

and law stuff since middle school.

Why don't we try that?

And so then, my senior year of high
school, I, um, took a ton of, I

took a ton of, um, elective courses.

I took, uh, criminal justice,
I took AP psychology, um.

All these different classes, and
I fell in love with these classes.

Um, Criminal Justice was
my absolute favorite class.

Um, AP Psychology was my
absolute favorite class.

It was just the best
experiences I'd ever had.

Um, I was a TA for my government teacher,
um, in my senior year as well, and I

just loved working with her as well.

It was just absolutely incredible
experience, and it was like a whole

new world had been opened up to me.

I was, I always tell people
it's like senior year.

Those classes I took, it was
like a fish finally being,

like, thrown into the water.

And I was like, oh my gosh!

So, um, definitely, um, a huge pivot
in my senior year of high school.

So, like, honestly, probably, like,
the most inopportune time, or maybe

the most opportune, because it's
definitely, I'm definitely glad that

I went into college with the intention
of studying political science.

instead of going into college with
the intention of studying engineering.

So, um, yeah, definitely the,
the big, big pivot of my life.

Um, and then I think the other big pivot
of my life was when I was in my, um,

Summer Internship last year, um, and
then, um, I was just kind of going through

the motions and everything, but then I
was at an event for my program, um, and

then my Arizona Senator was speaking at
this event, and so, um, Senator Kirsten

Sinema, um, love her, she's great, um,
and so she was speaking at my event, and

then suddenly I had the idea in my head,
just popped in my head, I was like, why

don't you stand up from your table, And
like, go out and basically ambush her

outside of the, outside of the hall.

Um, and so, and so I did.

Um, and that singular moment, I didn't
realize it at the time, um, but that

singular moment was a huge pivot as well.

Because, um, that one moment,
that one decision, that one bold

action, like, I was terrified.

It was so scary when I did
that, but that changed my entire

trajectory, like, forever.

And so, um, yeah, that was
another big pivot of my life.

Um, but yeah, no, I
definitely agree with you.

Life is, um, life is just
a ton of unexpected pivots.

Um, and yeah, just kind of going
with the flow, um, but also, yeah,

just being intentional when you see
opportunities, like, going for them.

Um, but, yeah, those are, like, my two
big pivots, I think, so far in my life.

We'll see how many more I go.

I know.

I can't wait.

I hope we can talk again
and see where you have gone.

Um, so, I know there's been some exciting
things that have happened for you since.


And maybe it was related to this brave
moment that you had to go talk to Arizona

Senator, but could you tell us a little
bit about what you're doing today?

Oh my gosh.

Yeah, absolutely.

So, um, as I was saying this past
semester, I was interning in the Senate

for the Arizona Senator, Kirsten Sinema,
and, um, my internship ended in May.

Um, but, um, here I am again,
um, I am once again in D.

C., um, and this is a permanent move
because I am now holding a permanent

position in Senator Kyrsten Sinema's
office, um, so, um, you know, the, the

dream scenario for every intern, um,
my internship turned into a permanent

position, so, um, absolute dream come
true, so yes, I am now here in the

Senate, um, on a permanent basis, yes.

Um, and so, yeah, I'm
very excited to be here.

Yes, congratulations!

So, um, do you know what some of your
new roles and responsibilities will be?

Have you already started, or is that
something that's Coming up soon.

Yes, um, I have been here
for, um, a few weeks now.

I'm trying to remember.

I think this is my fourth week
I'm currently in right now.

Um, and so it's been pretty slow
because we're out of session right now.

So, um, it hasn't, um, been very busy, um,
but, like, also extremely busy because,

like, you know, the Senate never sleeps.

I mean, just because, um, just because
the Senators aren't here doesn't

mean that we're not still doing work.

Um, because, you know, we've still got
constituents to serve, I mean, Arizona

doesn't take a break for a month.

Um, although, yeah, so, the Senators
definitely deserve this break,

they use it, and actually most
of them use it to go back home.

and meet with constituents and
serve with their constituents

and find out what they want.

And so this is a very productive
time for the senators, um, for them

to go back to their home state.

Um, but you know, we stay
here, um, we, we hold the fort,

um, we serve as best we can.

But yeah, so mostly what I've
been doing is kind of finding my

feet, um, getting ready to go.

Um, I've already been, um, parts,
I've already been in several meetings

with our legislative correspondents,
um, meeting with Um, different, um,

organizations, um, just learning.

Learning so much.

This entire month has just
been so much learning.

Um, and I absolutely love it.

And, um, yeah, it's been great.

I've learned so many things, um, in
so many different policy areas now.

Um, and so I am definitely Very excited
to see what I will be able to do, um,

in the future to, you know, help in
the Senate and, you know, help my,

help, um, help my fellow Arizonans.

It's very exciting to be serving
them, um, in this capacity, um, and

I really hope that I can, you know,
make, uh, make a good, Make a good

difference for Arizona and, um, you
know, for the United States as a whole.

Very excited.


Well, Mattias, thank you so much
for joining me today and sharing

your story and experience.

It's very inspiring and, uh, wonderful
to hear how the ePortfolio benefited

you throughout your internship, but
very pleased to hear how it is also.

Through that experience provided you
now with this kind of exciting next

step in starting your, your career.

And, uh, I wish you all the best.

Yes, thank you so much.

It was so great talking to you.

Um, yeah, absolutely.

Um, the highlight of my week.

Oh, good.

Glad to hear it.

I'll take good care of Thaddaeus.

This concludes our conversation.

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