May Grad Joins Congressional Staff

August 2, 2013
James Helmsworth
United States Representative Carolyn Maloney with Ilyssa Meyer ’13
United States Representative Carolyn Maloney with Ilyssa Meyer ’13, whom the Congresswoman hired this spring as her special assistant.

While a student, Ilyssa Meyer ’13 worked with United States Representative Carolyn Maloney as part of Oberlin's Cole Scholars program. Now Meyer has landed a full-time position with the Congresswoman.

This summer, Ilyssa Meyer ’13 joined the staff of United States Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents Manhattan’s East Side, Western Brooklyn, and Western Queens, as special assistant to the Congresswoman. In her position, the comparative American studies major helps organize campaign events, respond to press inquiries, compile reports, fundraise, and she acts as the Congresswomen’s personal assistant when she is in her home district.

“A lot of people I meet are shocked that I just graduated,” she says.

Meyer previously worked for Representative Maloney in the summer of 2011 through the Cole Scholars program, which trains Oberlin students in electoral politics, provides them with a position on a campaign staff, and offers them with financial support.

The two kept in touch and, this spring, when Meyer was in New York interviewing for other post-grad jobs, Rep. Maloney offered her a position. Meyer attributes her success to the program. “There's really no class that can prepare you for a high-speed job in electoral politics, beyond the Cole Scholar classes,” she says.

In addition to her work for Rep. Maloney, Meyer has had numerous experiences working in politics during her college career. Last summer, she interned in the White House with the Council on Women and Girls. While at Oberlin, she served as Student Senate Liaison for two years.

Meyer explains that seeking guidance from other women has helped launch her career in politics, which can often prove difficult for women to enter. These include everyone from her teammates on the Oberlin College women’s lacrosse team, to deputy director of the Council on Women and Girls, Avra Seigel, as well Rep. Maloney herself.

In her 20 years in Congress, Rep. Maloney has been a leader on women’s issues, introducing legislation that promotes equal pay, protects women’s right to choose, and provides extra funds to police investigations of rape. Last year, she received national attention for walking out of a House hearing on contraceptive care and the Affordable Healthcare Act when no women were allowed on the panel.

Though she’s secured a position on Rep. Maloney’s staff, Meyer says that she hopes to work in the White House again in the future, and plans to earn both a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree to prepare to do so.

Contrary to her success and ambitions, however, Meyer is keeping an open mind and staying humble. “I recognize how young I am and how much more I have to learn,” she says.

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