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The Buzz

2021 Alumnus Achieves Dream Job on Capitol Hill

Sylvia Cavallo Apr 12, 2024

When Waynesburg University graduate Scott Rykala ’21 was a junior studying Business Administration and Political Science, he began to manifest his future career on Capitol Hill while serving an internship in Washington, D.C.

About two weeks ago, Rykala’s dream came true as he embarked on his first day as a staff assistant in the U.S. Senate.

“My aspirations to work in public policy, particularly on Capitol Hill, crystallized during a trip with the Stover Center in my freshman year at WU,” Rykala says. “While many pursue this path through internships in Washington, D.C., financial constraints initially made this option inaccessible to me. However, in my junior year, I seized an unconventional opportunity. Becoming one of the inaugural participants from WU in a newly established partnership with the Washington Center for Internship and Academic Seminars, I embarked on an immersive study program in D.C. This endeavor allowed me to secure a D.C. internship, earn academic credit toward graduation and expand my professional network within the Beltway. During my internship, I actively networked with individuals in positions I aspired to, seeking insight into their career trajectories.”

Rykala continued his “strategic network approach” through to his graduate studies at UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, where he earned his Master of Public Policy in 2023, “steadily expanding and nurturing [his] connections.”

As a staff assistant, Rykala’s primary responsibilities entail organizing and overseeing the front office operations for the Senator’s office.

“I often serve as one of the initial points of contact for visitors entering the office or the first voice on the phone when constituents reach out. Working on Capitol Hill means that no two days are alike, and the excitement of facing the unexpected and not knowing what each day will entail is one of the aspects that draws me to this role,” Rykala says.

The WU grad offers generous accolades and immeasurable gratitude to Waynesburg University’s Department of Business Administration for making his manifest a reality.

Waynesburg University provided me with the invaluable opportunity to truly discover my identity and discern my calling."

“Waynesburg University provided me with the invaluable opportunity to truly discover my identity and discern my calling,” Rykala says. “At its core, the University’s mission of integrating faith, learning and service into a purposeful life for the glory of God served as a beacon throughout my time there. Every step of my journey challenged me to delve deeper into my comprehension of the world, my unique strengths and capabilities, and how I could leverage them to make a positive impact on the world around me.”

Prior to earning his role with the U.S. Senate this spring, Rykala worked as a Program Manager at a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit where he advocated for public policies concerning land use, affordable housing, transportation and community development.

Rykala says his new career opportunity in the Senate is still new enough that the “reality of it all hasn’t fully sunk in.” He says the feeling is surreal to walk through the historic halls where countless decision-makers have tread over the years.

His advice to future WU students is to discover their purpose.

“Waynesburg University excels at guiding individuals to uncover their true calling. Stay resilient, work diligently, and maintain faith in your journey – for the most rewarding achievements often require perseverance and dedication.”