A University of Nebraska at Kearney student is working to give a voice to those who need it, starting in Washington D.C.

UNK officials said Ellery Butterfield, a psychology major with a public law minor, is working as an intern for third-district Congressman Adrian Smith through the University of Nebraska’s D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy.

They said the academy is open to any NU student interning in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good way for Nebraskans to stay connected to other Nebraskans and start climbing the ladder once you’re here,” said Butterfield, who spent eight weeks in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a great experience.”

“If I was going to be in D.C., I wanted to see the politics and I wanted to see government at work,” Butterfield said. “Adrian Smith’s office does a fantastic job integrating interns into the inner-workings of the office.”

Butterfield said she is interested in the challenges facing people with mental disabilities and victims of abuse, as well as the lack of services available to address these issues.

“It’s important that we recognize these people deserve a voice,” said Butterfield, who has assisted at the Royal Family KIDS Camp for abused or neglected foster children and worked at Integrated Life Choices, which serves people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

UNK said through her internship, she was able to present a piece of legislation she believes the congressman should co-sponsor. Butterfield chose HR 1738, a resolution introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin aimed at reducing child marriages, sex trafficking and sexual abuse by eliminating visa loopholes that allow minors to be brought to the country as spouses or fiancées of U.S. citizens.

“I marketed it as a bill that would create bipartisan discussion about immigration reform,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield said she believes other UNK students should strongly consider participating in the D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy, which offers academic credit and financial assistance.

“I think every college student should be looking for opportunities to improve themselves and grow professionally and personally, and this is an excellent opportunity for that,” she said. “Specifically, I think Nebraska college students need to realize their potential and their ability to impact the world around them, not just Nebraska. The Nebraska spirit is something D.C. could use a lot of and the country could use a lot of right now.”