Alumnae Profiles: Caren Angela Howard, C'2007
When Caren Howard first came to Spelman in the fall of 2003, she was pursuing a dual-degree major in computer science and engineering. But she would soon have a change of heart, and political science would become not only her major, but also her passion. “At Spelman, it was through nightly discussion and dialogue with friends that I learned about the difference I could make through politics,” said the Columbia, Maryland, native. “I obtained internships through the Brisbane Institute at Morehouse College that paired students from the AUC with members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, and my passion for politics only grew stronger.”
Today, the staff assistant for Majority Leader U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) manages a team of 10 interns, conducts and schedules tours for the U.S. Capitol and the White House, processes flag requests and assists legislative staff. “Caren is an integral member of our staff and performs very important duties for the office and for me as well,” said Rep. Hoyer, who as Majority Leader is charged with scheduling legislation for consideration on the House floor, as well as building unity among House Democrats and delivering the Democratic Party’s message. “It is obvious that her educational experience at Spelman prepared her to be a real leader.” Her political ascension includes internships with Georgia state Reps. Carolyn Hugley and Alisha Thomas Morgan as well as with the Armed Services Committee where she helped draft legislation to honor the Korean Constabulary. “I always saw Caren pursuing a career in politics, because she always was concerned about the welfare of her community and genuinely cared about how to enhance her community,” said Ms. Howard’s childhood friend Jakia Muhammad.
While the political climate can be toxic, Ms. Howard looks at the great work of people on the Hill who work tirelessly to get bills passed. She cites U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) as impressive on the floor but very hardworking in her Houston home District. She also mentions her own boss, Rep. Hoyer, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as 100 percent dedicated to their work because they are the first in and the last out. “I am most interested in policy and writing bills because that is what impacts people,” said Ms. Howard, who worked with the Democratic Party of New Mexico in 2008 to get Tom Udall elected to his Senate seat. “My eyes have been opened to the public-sector scope of service in politics, and it is service that is my main takeaway from Spelman.”
*This article can be found in the Fall 2010 edition of the Spelman Messenger*