Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) invited an Oak Park and River Forest High School student to be his virtual guest for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last week.
Jacob Drews, a 17-year-old senior, also participated in a joint press conference with Rep. Davis moments before Biden delivered his address on March 1.
“We often hear that many young people are not engaged, not involved, not attuned to this whole concept of democracy and what it means,” Davis said, before lauding Drews, calling him “a young man who is just the opposite of all of that.”
To prove the congressman’s point, Drews offered a preview of Biden’s address that seemed more astute than your average cable news punditry.
“I expect, hopefully, for him to be touting the massive infrastructure bill he passed and showing everyone how much it really is,” Drews said.
“In the news, people are downplaying it, and I don’t think people realize just how massive it is,” he said. “For any other president, this would be a massive legacy to leave and he’s already done this in one year.”
Drews is currently a volunteer intern for Davis. He has also interned in the offices of state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (78th) and Senate President Don Harmon.
“I had some experience working with state legislators, so I decided to work in a congressman’s office because I would like to be a congressperson or a senator in my future,” Drews said during an interview on March 7.
“Congressman Davis is a giant of civil service,” he added. “Considering the things he’s done for our district, he’s really someone you’d seek to emulate, and if you want to go into public service, you might as well learn from someone who is the best at it.”
Tumia Romero, Davis’ chief of staff, said Drews’ voluntary internship is nothing to sneeze at. She fields about 30 requests for internships a month, many of them from Ivy League college students.
“Jacob tracked me down,” Romero said, laughing. “He was pretty persistent. He wanted to be here and to do this.”
Romero said there are currently four interns in Davis’ offices in the 7th District and in Washington D.C. — two of them unpaid — along with a fellow. She’s hoping to transition Drews into the Congressman’s paid summer internship program.
Some of Drews’ responsibilities as an intern include organizing events and projects like the congressman’s app challenge, which is designed to encourage young people in the district to engage with technology. Drews said he also helps organize Zoom meetings.
When asked to grade Drews’ performance, Romero didn’t hesitate.
“He’s an AAA,” she said. “Jacob is great. He’s very [versatile] and he honors diversity. He’s quick on his feet, very astute politically, and he’s very enthusiastic about working and serving the public. That’s what we like about him.”
And if he’s ever elected to Congress or the Senate, what will be his legislative priorities? Drews answered that confidently during the March 1 press conference.
“I think the biggest issues right now — obviously climate change is an existential threat to our world and humanity — but in our country, especially, education and health care … you have to have your health if you want anything and you also have to have an education to be successful in this country.
“Unfortunately, in this country we have a large disparity between people who can get quality education and people who cannot,” he said. “That would be an issue I would like to tackle because it affects everybody. And if we help people who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder, we can bring the entire country up with them.”