A Saginaw Valley State University senior was one of 60 students in the nation to receive a prestigious scholarship given to undergraduates passionate about communications in the public policy industry.
Dan Wunderlich was named a 2017 recipient of the $1,000 Media Fellows scholarship, provided by the Washington Media Scholars Foundation. The nonprofit organization offers opportunities for college students interested in public policy-related communication.
He recently finished a communications-based internship working in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, a Republican representing Michigan’s 11th congressional district. The region covers communities including Wunderlich’s hometown of Troy.
Wunderlich spent the summer helping the office draft media releases and speeches on the congressman’s behalf.
“I love trying to take a situation and turning that into a message that can connect with people,” he said. “That’s where I get my fun out of it: creating those messages.”
Erik Trump, SVSU professor of political science, has witnessed Wunderlich’s enthusiasm for expressing his thoughts and helping others.
“He is an exceptionally skilled communicator, a creative thinker, an extraordinarily self-directed individual, and a genuinely kind and thoughtful person,” Trump said.
Wunderlich’s internship put him in the same rooms with some of the nation’s most influential leaders including Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.
The experience also reinforced his desire to seek a job in public policy. Wunderlich plans to pursue a professional career as a political communications director — preferably at an office in the nation’s capital — after he graduates from SVSU with a bachelor’s degree in May 2018.
Wunderlich said he first fell in love with communications while attending a Troy High School class that he initially signed up for because he anticipated it would be “an easy A.” Instead, the teacher exposed him to the joys and importance of communicating.
“I firmly believe, no matter what your industry, communicating is a central part of everything you accomplish,” he said. “Communication runs the world.”
His professor said Wunderlich has shown the ability to relate well to others.
“Dan is a two-way communicator,” Trump said, “someone who very effectively modified his speech and body language to put other people at ease. In the classroom setting, he listens carefully to other students’ ideas and responds positively and civilly, even when he holds a different position.”
Wunderlich is determined to demonstrate to the Washington Media Scholars Foundation that their faith in him is justified.
“I believe in a strong return on investment, and I want to be a great return on their investment,” he said.