The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) offers summer internships to worthy undergraduates. It also sponsors Enquiry, a student newsletter dedicated to “free thought and discourse.” Samantha “Sam” Benevelli, a rising Hamilton College senior and AHI undergraduate fellow from Killingworth, Connecticut, is one of two AHI summer interns for 2017.  As part of her duties, Sam is helping AHI Executive Director Robert Paquette in performing research in documents from French archives for a forthcoming book as well as preparing to assume her position in the fall as editor-in-chief of Enquiry.

AHI Undergraduate Fellow Sam Benevelli

A double major in physics and economics at Hamilton College, Sam enjoys reading and writing about politics. She was president of the Hamilton College Republican Club during her sophomore year and during the spring semester, 2017.   As staff writer for Enquiry since August 2015, Sam assisted in editing the newsletter and contributed numerous articles and political opinion pieces on topics that ranged from the corporate culture at Uber, the presidential campaign, the economic situation in India, to a campus panel on the refugee crisis. She is already working on her first article for Enquiry:  It will deal with the imprecise use of language.

As editor-in-chief of Enquiry, Sam plans to broaden its reach by, for example, expanding the network to include other schools.  She also hopes to bring in more guest writers and viewpoints.  Enquiry advisor and AHI resident fellow Dr. David Frisk lauded Sam’s abilities. “Sam has treated her Enquiry work as a learning experience,” he observed, “which is the main point in writing for publication—or, as she will be doing, editing it.  I’m pleased, and the Hamilton community should be too, that this energetic, cheerful, and accomplished undergraduate is willing to make such a commitment. Her leadership will mean yet another good year for Enquiry.”

Sam became involved with the AHI during her freshman year, after she heard about it at a Republican Club meeting when then AHI undergraduate fellow Sarah Larson (now a young executive at M&T bank) was talking about the intellectual engagement at the annual Carl Menges colloquium.  Since the spring semester of her freshman year, Sam has participated in the AHI pre-law reading group, which in 2016-2017 focused on a cover-to-cover reading of Friedrich Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty (1960).  After graduation, she plans to take two years to work and study for the LSAT before going to law school. In her legal practice, she wants to focus on venture capital and start-up law.

Sam holds more than one summer internship. She is also working as a research intern for Key Relationships in New York City. There she is researching prospective donors for future water project partnerships and managing relationships with current donors to renew their donations or update them on the progress of current projects.  Last summer she also held two internships.  She worked at the Kent School, a boarding high school in Connecticut. She assisted faculty in teaching lessons in robotics, 3D printing, and aviation and wrote a report on the program for the school’s trustees and administrators. She found out about the program from Ryan Glenn (Class of 2014), also an AHI undergraduate fellow. Her second internship took her to Washington DC and the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the US National Defense University.  There she performed research on the Islamic State and assisted the Senior Research fellow for NATO/Europe.

Sam jumped into campus extracurricular activities right away during her freshman year. She and a team of other students organized the first TEDxHamiltonCollege, with the theme “Curiosity and Creativity.” During her freshman and sophomore years, she worked with the group to cultivate a list of speakers who spoke on a range of topics from poetry to neuroscience. She spent the fall 2016 semester at King’s College in London doing an off campus study term.  A member Hamilton College Varsity Rowing Team, Sam enjoys rock climbing, running, baseball, and football, as well as astrophysics.  She also confesses addiction to the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Sam looks forward to the academic year as editor-in-chief of Enquiry and as a participant in a wide range of AHI activities.  “I wholeheartedly recommend the AHI to other students,” she said.  “The AHI’s reading clusters and recommended classes such as ‘Tocqueville’s America’ have been particularly beneficial in deepening my understanding and appreciation of intellectual diversity and debate.  The AHI and Enquiry made me comfortable challenging my own political and moral assumptions and allowed me to defend them from a well-informed position. I know very few students who jump into the AHI with two feet.  I agree that it is intimidating to have your beliefs challenged by some of the most informed people you will ever meet. However, the students who stay are drawn in by the challenge and rise to it with astounding professional and personal benefits.”

“Sam Benevelli,” AHI Executive Director Robert Paquette observed, “is an outstanding addition to the AHI family, a young person of versatile endowments and high character.  I have had the pleasure of teaching her in two courses.  It speaks to her seriousness of purpose that as a junior physics and economics major, she chose to audit my “Tocqueville’s America” course.  She missed one class during the semester, read Tocqueville’s Democracy in America cover-to-cover along with Daniel Walker Howe’s Pulitzer prize-winning What Hath God Wrought (2008), and participated in class discussions at a very high level throughout the semester.  She has a very bright future ahead of her.”

By Mary Grabar, AHI Resident Fellow