Kayley Corley learned plenty during her summer spent working for Congressman Steve Womack in Washington, D.C., but the most important lesson she learned was a simple one.
“Leadership doesn’t have to be loud,” she said. “It can be as simple as making the tough decisions day after day and letting those around you watch that process as it unfolds. Prior to this experience, leadership was a much noisier concept to me. I always considered leaders those who were highly-visible decision makers.”
Corley, who graduated from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith this May, spent time in D.C. as the 2017 John Paul Hammerschmidt Fellow. The experience offers a UAFS student the opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital each summer to serve in the congressman’s office to experience the legislative process firsthand.
The Booneville native saw the experience as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“I’m from a small town where a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to walk the halls of Congress, except maybe once in a lifetime,” Corley said. “I had that chance for six weeks. There wasn’t a day that went by where the opportunity I had was lost on me. It was an extraordinarily humbling experience for me.”
But even though not many people from her hometown are able to visit the Capitol, Corley helped arrange a D.C. visit for students from Booneville High School, which she said was the highlight of her trip.
“Because of the timing of my fellowship and their visit, I was able to help students from my high school experience something most students from where we all grew up might not ever get to do,” Corley said. “To have the ability to pay it back and also pay it forward was exceptionally rewarding. Booneville High School is where it all started for me, and I’m so thankful I got to show a little of that gratitude.”
The fellowship marked the second opportunity for Corley to work with an Arkansas Congressman. Previously, Corley served as an intern for Sen. John Boozman. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public service and administration from the Bush School of Public Service at Texas A&M University.
“Both of these opportunities have shown me that public service is truly a noble calling and one that I wish to pursue wholeheartedly,” Corley said. “I’m thankful for my time here at UAFS, the people that have helped me every step of the way, and for my time here and in D.C.”
For more information about the JPH Fellowship, contact Jordan Hale, director of government and community relations at UAFS, at 479-788-7008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.