BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon-Upshur High School sophomore Henry ‘Hank’ Phillips has big plans for his future and after doing some research, he decided to apply for a summer internship with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV.
Hank said he knew the internships usually are awarded to college students but he completed the required paperwork anyhow — and his efforts proved successful. Hank was awarded one of those internships for this summer in Manchin’s office in Washington, D.C.
Hank lives in Buckhannon and is the son of Greg Phillips and Genevia Jenkins. He said he attain this goal because he has always been interested in government.
“I have been in student council since I was in sixth grade,” Hank said. “Right now, I am the sophomore class president at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and next year, I will serve as the junior class president.”
He said he possesses not only an interest in government, but a desire to help others.
“I am an aspiring politician – I know I really want to serve in government,” Hank said. “I want to figure out what the environment is in politics and figure out my career path. This will give me some insight into what that would look like.”
Hank shared his list of people who he considers inspiring and that list includes his grandpa.
“My grandpa was really into public service. He was one of those people who started at the bottom and really worked his way up,” Hank said. “He was always a positive person and he was excited when I started in student council. My grandma was like that, too.”
He said both of his parents also have been inspiring in his life.
“Both of my parents are very helpful and very supportive of the goals I want to accomplish,” Hank said. “They always try to do their best to help me.”
One of Hank’s favorite politicians is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.
“She is a sophomore House Democrat and in 2018, she started with a campaign without taking corporate funding,” Hank said. “She is very positive and very strict on working for the middle-class people.”
Another favorite politician for Hank is Senator Joe Manchin.
“I like his bipartisanship,” Hank said of Manchin. “He has so much power in the Senate and I like that he tries to figure out both sides – I appreciate that.”
During his internship with Manchin, Hank said he will be in Washington, D.C. in the Hart Senate Office Building.
“I will be there for two weeks,” Hank said.
Hank said this won’t be his first time traveling to the nation’s Capitol, having visited with his father a few years ago.
“We called ahead and were able to meet with interns who gave us a tour of the Capitol,” Hank said. “We did that and met with the two interns and were able to see what they did. They told me how they got to work so closely in government. It was something I decided would be so cool and I decided it was something I had to do.
“While visiting in Washington, D.C., I got to talk to the interns about their future plans as we had lunch together,” he added. “They were both in college.”
Hank said he went on Manchin’s website and found the internship applications. He said he went ahead and sent in the application, a list of awards and recognitions he has earned as well as an essay.
“I did that and I heard back that I was accepted,” Hank said, adding that the internships are usually only offered to college students. “I am so glad they accepted me.”
Some of the awards and accolades Hank has received include the American Heart Association Award for raising the most money at his school – which was Buckhannon Academy Elementary School – for the AHA.
“In fifth grade, my friend Emily Sharp and I were going on a field trip to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “The trip cost a good bit of money, and we knew some of our classmates would not be able to raise the funds to go on the trip, so we raised enough money so everyone in our class could take the trip.”
While attending Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, Hank maintained a 4.0 GPA.
“I received the Highest Honors Award at the end of my 8th grade year,” he said.
Moving to Buckhannon-Upshur High School has not slowed Hank’s accomplishments nor his desire to help others and eventually enter the political realm.
“Last year, I was the freshman class president, this year I am the sophomore class president and next year I will be the junior class president,” Hank said. “I am also in the Youth Leadership Association – where we construct bills and present them at the Youth Government Day. Hopefully, we will be able to do that next year because it was not held because of COVID this year. I am also involved in the Tennis Team and I am a member of the B-UHS Marching Band.”
In the future, Hank said he plans to run for Student Body President his senior year.
“Next year, I plan to run in the West Virginia Association of Student Council’s race for four new officers in the state,” he said. “I am also looking forward to running for Student Body President for my senior year.”
After high school, Hank said he would like to attend college and major in political science.
“I also would like to complete my law degree,” he said. “Possibly, I would like to pursue a career as a prosecuting attorney or in some other realm of politics.”
Hank said he feels the internship in Manchin’s office will give him a greater understanding of the type of environment he would be working in, in the future.
“I think it will also give me a sense of understanding from an inside perspective,” he said. “In politics, you present yourself to so much of the world – you are on the stage so much. I think it will be important to see how it feels on the inside and see how things operate and get a better understanding of how to deal with those situations. Also, getting to know the work that goes into this job and how to help people will be great. Senator Manchin represents a big district in our state and he represents a lot of people. I am sure there is a lot that goes into each and every one of his votes.”
At B-UHS, Hank said his favorite subject is history because he feels like he can learn from the past.
“History often repeats itself so we can learn so much through it – things that were done right and wrong – I think that is really important, especially as we move forward,” Hank said.