VALPARAISO — Every day, President Donald Trump receives thousands of pieces of mail and emails from around the U.S. and the world. Ivy Tech Community College Valparaiso student Emily Mueller’s recent White House internship gave her an opportunity to help read and categorize that mail.
Mueller, who is majoring in business administration, worked in the Office of Presidential Correspondence from Sept. 6 through Dec. 6, in Washington, D.C.
“It’s probably one of the best places to be an intern because you can see the opinions and viewpoints of the American people,” Mueller said.
“You see a lot of interesting things, sometimes even shed a tear. Every piece of mail and email is different. You never know what you’re going to get.”
She explained that staff and interns provide "first eyes" for all correspondence addressed to the president. “We read it to be sure it’s nothing threatening," she said.
Once the letters and emails are read, they are separated into “hundreds of categories,” and a team of writers responds to the correspondence, Mueller said.
The mail she read ranged from grade-school students writing as part of a class assignment, to correspondence from senior citizens. “The little kids would write saying, ‘Hey, we have to write this,’” she said.
Much of the correspondence addressed to Trump this past fall concerned opinions about health care, she said, adding that this was one of the “hot button” topics the Office of Presidential Correspondence staff tracks.
“There were very heart-warming letters,” Mueller said. “There are wow letters. The staff said this is just what the president needs to see.”
One of those letters came from a veteran who was shot in the line of duty.
“He underwent surgery that lasted 12 hours. As soon as he stood up after the surgery, he re-enlisted. His father sent in a photo of his son re-enlisting,” Mueller recalled. “The president deserves to see that.”
Another letter the Office of Presidential Correspondence forwarded to Trump came from a little boy who asked if he could mow the lawn at the White House, she said.
“The President said, ‘Let’s bring that kid to the White House,’” Mueller said.
“There is more support (for the president) than people would think,” she said. “To work in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, it’s very important to be impartial and, as strange as it sounds, put politics aside.”
Mueller, who became interested in the White House internship opportunity last spring, decided to finalize her application with the support of Ivy Tech, including Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann.
“We are proud one of our students was chosen for such a prestigious internship opportunity,” Ellspermann said.
“Emily was well qualified and tenacious in pursuing the internship. The experience Emily brings back will be invaluable as she continues on her educational journey. Emily as a role model will also inspire more Ivy Tech students to pursue these prestigious opportunities.”
As Mueller returns to classes at Ivy Tech, she will continue to serve as secretary of the Student Government Association at the Valparaiso campus. She also plans to join the Kappa Beta Delta International Honor Society.
“This is an honor society for those students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher,” she said.
Mueller said she plans to complete her associate degree in business administration this summer and apply to Valparaiso University where she would like to double major in business administration and economics.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Mueller said she would like to return to Washington, D.C.
“I loved where I was. Hopefully, I can go back to the office of correspondence,” she said. “I also want to continue my education.”