KFHS alumna does research for Congress

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

During the 2012 Mexican presidential election, a former King’s Fork High student was one of Washington’s go-to people for foreign policy decision makers.

Since May, Kathryn Babineau, valedictorian at King’s Fork in 2008, has been interning with the Congressional Research Service within the Library of Congress.

Former King’s Fork High School valedictorian Kathryn Babineau is interning with a research unit of Congress, where she helped advise policymakers on the implications of the outcome of the recent Mexican election.

Her job title is Research Associate in Latin American Affairs, for the service’s Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division.

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When Pena Nieto was declared winner of the July 1 election, Babineau’s analysis of the likely impact on America’s relationship with Mexico was in demand.

“There was a lot of interest all throughout Washington in that area,” she said.

The Congressional Research Service researches different issues that may be of interest to Congress and provides information used in the formation of policy.

In many cases, it’s the reason federal elected representatives and the senior officials they appoint appear so well versed on what’s happening in the world around them.

“A lot of it is coming from the CRS,” Babineau explained. “If they have a question about something or about somebody doing an official visit, they call and ask whatever they’d like to know. We always say members of Congress are a mile wide and an inch deep, and the service is an inch wide and a mile deep.”

Babineau is in the role through the end of August. She scored it when her present boss was a guest speaker at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, where she is pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree.

“For me, it wasn’t as difficult,” Babineau said.

Most inquiries she handles come from members of Congress trying to wrap their minds around foreign affairs issues, she said.

“People in defense are going to talk to defense people,” she added.

She said she doesn’t field more inquiries from certain members, but some committees rely on the service more than others.

UVA was also Babineau’s undergraduate school, and she has worked in Mexico for one summer and England for another.

After living between Charlottesville and Washington, D.C., during recent years, she now calls Norfolk home.

“I hope to keep up my contacts here and keep them abreast about what I’m doing in the future,” she said. “This has just been an unbelievable experience in terms of broadening my knowledge and my contacts.”