Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 15, 2009

Bluefield native heading to D.C. as White House intern

By Bill Archer

BLUEFIELD — Phil Hancock has spent his entire life working to pursue a political career, and on Sept. 8, he will take a huge step forward in that regard by serving for three months as an intern in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison in the administration of President Barack Obama.

“This is something I wanted to do for a long time, but I had to wait for Barack Obama to get elected to actually get there,” Hancock said. “I think this will be an exciting time to be at the White House because of the work the president is doing now to advance his health care reforms.

“I also want to help the president put people back to work,” Hancock said. “The president energized so many young people with his election, and I think that was because the campaign was speaking our language through Twitter and Facebook. President Obama has energized our nation and if I could do some microscopic, small, very small thing to help in that effort, I would be glad to do it.”

Hancock, 29, is the son of Al and Sonia T. Hancock of Bluefield and grandson of Minnie Hancock of Elkhorn. He is on target to complete his juris doctorate degree in May 2010, as a Marshall-Brennan Fellow at the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Mass. He already holds a master’s degree in the field of Industrial & Labor Relations from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics (2006), and a bachelor’s degree with honors in Political Science from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2002 as a Bonner, Bowen Foundation, J. Franklin Long and Mathena scholar.

Hancock graduated with honors from Bluefield High School in 1998, where he was elected student body president. He served as statewide vice president of the West Virginia Young Democrats (2005-07), a teaching assistant in the WVU Leadership Series Program (2005-’07), was the recipient of the U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph Award for West Virginia Young Democrat of the Year (2004), was a member of the Presidential Electoral College for U.S. Senator John Kerry in 2004, was a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates 24th District (2004) and is a past governor of the American Legion’s Mountaineer Boys State.

“I carry the state’s banner with every opportunity I have,” Hancock said. “I make sure that people know that I am a West Virginia Mountaineer and of how proud I am that Mountaineers are always free. My hope is that other young West Virginians will see the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve over the years and say to themselves, ‘I can do that too,’ or ‘yes we can,’” he said.

Hancock said he had the honor to meet President Obama in 2004 when he was a senator in the Illinois state senate. “I met him, randomly, on the street, just a few hours prior to his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention,” Hancock said. “I recognized him as the keynote speaker that evening, so took the opportunity to introduce myself and we spoke for a few moments. He then went to give one of the most memorable speeches of the convention and the rest is history.

“The second time I met him was at the 2006 Jefferson-Jackson Day Celebration in Charleston where he was the keynote speaker,” Hancock said.

Students at the Northeastern University School of Law are on the quarter schedule, Hancock said, and they alternate academic quarters and internship quarters. The White House internship is unpaid, and it will mark Hancock’s third internship. His previous internships were with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and Ratheon Corp.

“His internship program started this summer, but I waited until the fall,” Hancock said. “That was my internship quarter at college.” Hancock was involved in his first year of law school and was unable to be active in Obama’s presidential campaign, but he is eager to work for the president in any way he can.

– Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com