It was love at first sight for Jennifer Link Lippus, ’91.
When she first stepped onto the Hillsdale College campus as a high school senior from Sandusky, Ohio, she knew this was the place she wanted to be.
“I already felt a sense of home there,” she said. And when then-Hillsdale admissions counselor Pete Lennington mentioned the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program during her campus tour, the final decision was made.
“I was interested in civics, government, and politics from the time I was very young,” said Lippus, whose father was the longtime city manager of Sandusky, Ohio. ”I applied to a few other schools, but my ultimate goal at that point was pursuing Hillsdale’s poly sci (political science) major and having the opportunity to do WHIP.”
During her high school trip to Washington, D.C., she said she became “fascinated” with the city and wanted to return. In the spring of 1990, she got her opportunity as a member of the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program.
She landed an internship in the office of Indiana Senator Dan Coats. Coats, who had a strong relationship with Hillsdale College, was a prime example of a servant leader, Lippus said.
“From the moment I walked in, I knew it was going to be more than just seeing the office in action,” she said of her experience. “It was an opportunity to get involved. They really wanted the interns to have as much depth to their experience as possible.”
In Senator Coats’ office, she worked the front desk and answered phone calls from constituents. Eventually trained as a tour guide on Capitol Hill, she said that experience was one of many that made the program special.
“I was assigned a particular project, and what I wrote ended up in the Congressional record,” she said. “ I look back now and remember those accomplishments and all the life lessons I learned. Being on my own and responsible for something outside of school work was just incredible.”
She said Monday night classes often featured guest speakers who were from all parts of government and greatly “enhanced” the experience. But she said working for Senator Coats made a lasting impression on her.
“He was just one of those guys who went to bat for his constituents,” Lippus said. “He was truly there to serve the people.”
After finishing WHIP, Lippus completed her senior year at Hillsdale and was considering law school. But her WHIP experience gave her pause, considering many recent college graduates struggled to make a living in high-priced D.C.
“I wasn’t quite ready to take that step,” she said of moving to D.C.