By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- On the court, Willamette University women's basketball player Ashley Evans (Sr., PG, Canby, OR/Canby HS) is one of the Bearcats' top players. She leads the team with 14 assists in five games and is tied for first with 12 three-point baskets. She is third for the Bearcats with 7.6 points per game.
In addition, Evans is one of the top 3-point shooters in the history of the Willamette women's basketball team. She tied the school record for 3-point baskets in a game with nine against Warner Pacific College on Nov. 15, 2016. She is eighth all-time in single season 3-pointers with 53 made in 2016-17 and is ninth with 131 attempts that same year. She is currently eighth in career 3-pointers with 125 and is 10th in career 3-point attempts with 328 since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Off the court, Evans is majoring in Politics at Willamette. With her major in mind, she participated in an internship as a legislative aide with State Senator Herman Baertschiger, Jr. at the Oregon Capitol during the summer of 2017. The Oregon Capitol is located across State Street from the Willamette campus, literally about 50 yards from the north entrance to Waller Hall.
"My internship started on March 28 and the legislative session ended on June 30," Evans said. "When the session resumes in April, I will go back and do what I can to help again."
Evans worked at a desk in the office area of Sen. Baertschiger in the Capitol Building. "Each senator and representative gets a square area where there is an office with a door for the legislator," Evans explained. "In the rest of the space, there are desks for the chief of staff and legislative aides."
With the break between the spring semester and the fall semester underway at Willamette, Evans was able to focus on her efforts at the Capitol Building during the summer.
"As a legislative aide in the summer, I worked Monday through Friday for at least 20 hours, but often worked longer to finish tasks when needed," Evans recalled. "During the school year, I work whenever my schedule allows it between classes and basketball."
"I have really enjoyed watching Ashley grow as both a student and athlete through the past four years," Willamette Head Women's Basketball Coach Peg Swadener said. "She chose to come to Willamette specifically for the opportunities she would have as a student and her internship at the Capital is a perfect example of such opportunities."
The work for a legislative aide can vary from day to day.
"Typically, there are different objectives that need to be reached each day," Evans said. "The chief of staff sometimes gives individuals specific work, or will give all the legislative aides something that needs to get done. I reported directly to the senator's chief of staff, Michael Sellers.
"Primarily I communicated with constituents from the senator's district and assisted them in any way that I could," Evans noted. "I also helped prepare the senator his day."
Evans learned a lot by working with the senator's constituents. Senator Baertschiger represents District 2, which includes Grants Pass and the surrounding area.
"Constituents reach out to voice their opinions on different bills that the senator will be voting on in session," Evans said. "After hearing the concerns and opinions, we write them down and pass them on to the chief of staff, who then passes them on to the senator. If constituents have questions about particular parts of bills, we direct them to resources they can use to get a better grasp of what a bill is all about and how it will likely affect them.
"Also, we print up two copies of the senator's schedule and prepare all the bills that he will be going over in committee and on the floor," Evans noted. "His primary committees are the Finance and Revenue Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Key issues that Sen. Baertschiger focuses on are jobs, land use, and natural resources."
It helped Evans that she was able to work for a senator and a chief of staff who were committed to the voters in their district and were willing to teach their legislative aides about the legislative process and helping constituents.
"The senator and his staff are all extremely hard-working people who truly care about their constituents," Evans noted. "I have gained a lot of perspective and general life skills that I will carry on to whatever I do next. They have taken the time to teach me about how to function and succeed in politics and in the work force in general."
Evans received a closeup look at state politics in Oregon. She was able to participate in the process while helping others succeed.
"The best part of the internship was having the opportunity to learn and observe firsthand what goes on in politics," Evans commented. "Learning about it in the classroom is one thing, but being able to go across the street and witness government in action, and even participate in it in this way, is really a special opportunity.
It was an exceptional addition to her efforts in the classroom.
"The experience of working with the senator and his team made the didactic potion of my time at Willamette come to life," Evans recalled. "Watching, learning and participating in the inner workings of the Capital's business gave me invaluable insight and experience. Directly interacting with the senator's constituents and seeing firsthand the passion that politics and policy have on the individual was a very powerful lesson."
Evans also learned that her work as an intern at the Capitol Building provided her with lessons she could apply as a member of the Willamette women's basketball team.
"Being part of a team that was so dedicated to supporting and ensuring the senator was in the best situation to be successful drives home the importance of building and leading a team, and directly relates to being a student-athlete at Willamette," Evans commented. "I went from learning about government and politics in class to experiencing it firsthand while being at the Capitol."