Kepler Was an Intern, Too

Daniel Hernandez may have saved Gabrielle Giffords’ life. Send us other examples of memorable interns!

See Slate’s complete coverage of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and arrest of Jared Lee Loughner.

Daniel Hernandez

When I was a junior in high school, I interned for Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. I answered the phone. I created a database of important addresses. The one time I met her, I shook her hand and stuttered an unimpressive introduction. I did not, at any point, save her life.

In other words, I was no Daniel Hernandez, the University of Arizona junior who may have saved the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head on Saturday. Not too many interns save their boss’s life—but Hernandez is not the first to do more than balance multiple coffee orders and struggle with fax machines. To celebrate his efforts, we at Slatewanted to honor remarkable interns throughout history. But a lot of the interns we found were notoriously remarkable—for their involvement in a sex scandal, for example.

So we’re calling on you, readers, to recall some of the most memorable interns, apprentices, or assistants you’ve ever known, heard of, or read about. Which intern in an obscure lab made a significant medical discovery? Perhaps a college freshman working at a local newspaper broke an important story? Send us their stories at slateinterns@gmail.com. We’ll publish the best ones next week. In the meantime, to get you thinking, here is a selection of a few memorable interns.

Daniel Hernandez: Hernandez, who was working the sign-in table at Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event, ran toward Giffords as soon as he heard gunshots. He applied pressure to her head to stop the blood loss and moved her body so she could breathe without inhaling blood.

Monica Lewinsky: No intern list is complete without Lewinsky’s salacious story. The White House intern’s affair with President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment in 1998. Lewinsky wasn’t an intern that entire time: She was hired to be a full-time staffer after a successful stint as a summer intern.

Chandra Levy: Levy, then a 24-year-old graduate student, was an intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2000 when she met Rep. Gary Condit of California. The two began to have an affair. She disappeared in May 2001, and the affair was subsequently exposed. Authorities were suspicious of Condit, but he was never indicted. In 2010, Ingmar Guandique, a man already in prison, was convicted of Levy’s murder.

Louis Lusky: Technically he was not an intern, but Louis Lusky wrote what’s often called the most important footnote in constitutional law while he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone in 1938. In Carolene Products v. United States, Lusky introduced the idea of applying varying levels of judicial scrutiny to different kinds of legislation, specifically in regards to statutes directed at religious and racial minorities.

Johannes Kepler: Kepler discovered that planets move in elliptical orbits while working as an apprentice (some reports call him an assistant) to astronomer Tycho Brahe. Also, after studying Brahe’s data, Kepler came up with the three Laws of Planetary Motion. Other than that, his apprenticeship was uneventful.

Jayson Blair: Blair was a summer intern at the New York Times in June 1998. The talented young writer got his internship extended, then continued as an intern and junior reporter for four years. Even though he made a plethora of mistakes during his tenure, the management rewarded Blair with a full-time reporting gig. In 2003, Blair famously plagiarized a story about the family of a soldier missing in Iraq. He also frequently invented quotes and faked reporting from other cities while sitting in his Brooklyn apartment. He resigned in 2003.

Jeffrey Garofano: Garofano, then a senior at Middlebury College, began interning for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., during the summer of 2010. Garofano waited a week until he committed the egregious error that would lead to his immediate dismissal: The 22-year-old told someone who wanted to talk to Bennet that she could get a one-on-one meeting in exchange for a $2,400 campaign donation.

Who are the most memorable interns, apprentices, or assistants you’ve ever known, heard of, or read about? Send us their stories at slateinterns@gmail.com.

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