Troy Griffis in D.C.
As someone interested in helping others and building community, Troy Griffis ('04) recently got the chance of a lifetime. Through UNT's NTDC Cooperative Program, he worked at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The new bipartisan federal agency serves as a national clearinghouse for information about the administration of federal elections.
Authorized by the Help America Vote Act, the EAC has four commissioners. Griffis' internship was arranged through the only commissioner from Texas — Ray Martinez.
Griffis, a former president of the UNT Student Government Association who earned his business degree in December, says that when he left Texas for his Washington internship, he felt as though he were on a quest to find out how business is really done there.
"I had expectations of getting caught up in party politics and of seeing the dynamics involved with behind the scenes deals full of action and intrigue," he says
The opposite proved true. He says his colleagues were hard working, honest and committed to the task at hand.
"People in the office did have political affiliations, but the focus of our work was on upholding the cornerstone of democracy. Voting and the issue of making every vote count was not an issue anyone was divided on," he says.
Griffis says he learned that Washington in one sense is a no-nonsense place, but in another way, it's a fun town.
"People are keen on outside activities — running, cycling, playing in a softball league with coworkers and friends, or watching movies on the Washington Mall," he says. "As for work, it's easy to lose track of time and end up working a 50- to 60-hour week."
As an intern, Griffis worked on more than a dozen projects and sat on a committee that formulated the Help America Vote College Poll Worker Grant. As part of the grant , the EAC recently awarded $80,000 to UNT to implement UNT's Help North Texas Vote College Program.
The initiative recruits bilingual and technology-savvy students to serve as poll workers in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. The program created a web site to recruit workers and trained hundreds of students who could earn extra credit in class for their participation.
Besides being instrumental in getting students involved in the voting process, Griffis has words of advice for those who seek to follow in his footsteps.
"I would suggest to other students interested in internships that you never wait to be told to do anything," he says.
"Work diligently on your projects, but don't get stuck behind your desk. Make a point to talk with others in the office and don't hesitate to invite others to lunch. Lastly, be persistent, arrive on time and stay late . . . you don't want to miss a thing."