PAC Student Spotlight: Sydney Branton

PAC Student Spotlight: Sydney Branton

April 28, 2023

For Sydney Branton, joining the PAC program was the “perfect” way to combine her two majors. After Branton was accepted to the Grady DC Field Study & Internship Program for the summer 2022 session, she was advised to join the certificate program by a fellow PAC student.

Branton believes the instruction she receives in her PAC classes enables her to more effectively analyze the communication and messaging strategies used by public officials. “Whenever I’m reading articles or watching the news, especially in press conferences, I can pick up on a lot of the strategies Professor Watson talks about in class. It is very interesting to understand why people say the things they say to stay on message,” says Branton.

Being around other PAC students has inspired Branton to pursue a career in the field of public affairs. “It’s very refreshing to be around a lot of people who have similar ambitions to me, and everyone is doing such amazing things,” says Branton.

Sydney Branton with Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA-3)

This motivation pushed Branton to seek internship opportunities on Capitol Hill for the Grady DC program last summer. She spent the first half of the summer working as a Congressional Intern for Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA-3). She attended committee hearings, wrote memos for her team, and assisted with constituent communications like answering the phone and capitol tours. However, Branton’s first brush with congressional work did not stop there.

“The people in Congressman Ferguson’s office were nice enough to connect me with the House Committee on Energy and Commerce because they knew that I had an interest in healthcare policy, so I was able to work for the Subcommittee on Health for the second half of the summer,” says Branton. In this role, she spent most of her time watching committee hearings and putting together reports on topics that her team requested. Although Branton is thankful for her experiences interning for both offices, she preferred working for a member’s personal office.

Branton always thought she was headed to law school after graduation, but after her experiences in the PAC program and working on the Hill, she has shifted her goals. “I think I am now very heavily leaning toward returning to DC and working either as a congressional staffer or within some kind of agency that specializes in public affairs,” says Branton—although she has not completely ruled out the possibility of attending law school and plans to study for the LSAT this summer.

“I did meet several people on the hill who were planning to work there for three or four years and then go back to school, so that’s definitely something that I would be interested in if my experiences there lend themselves to that,” says Branton.

Branton recently landed an internship on the Hill for the second summer 2023 session. Knowing that she will soon return to DC makes Branton excited about what lies ahead. “Being in that environment was so fun and so inspiring for me, and it really just helped affirm my future career aspirations,” says Branton.

As she heads back to the city she loves this summer, Branton feels grateful for the experiences and friendships she made in PAC. “It’s inspired me a lot and motivated me to go out and seek those opportunities more so than I think I would have without the program,” says Branton.