A capitol career

On a bright, chilly afternoon in Washington, D.C., Amanda Wyma-Bradley ’14 decided to forego public transportation for a 4-mile walk home from her job on Capitol Hill. Exercise clears her head, and she had no problem walking briskly and conducting an interview at the same time. “I have to be doing at least two things at once,” she explained.

Multitasking is an essential skill in Wyma-Bradley’s job working for U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state’s 9th District. Wyma-Bradley joined his office in June 2019 as a legislative assistant. She researches legislative issues and gathers feedback from constituents and interest groups to aid the congressman with policy decisions.

“I’m very excited to be in a position where my entire job is to make sure that people’s voices are present and that we are actively pursuing them to engage in the conversation about legislation,” she said. “[My] job is to make sure people see that government does work and that their voices do matter. It’s very rewarding.”

While she’s passionate about her job, Wyma-Bradley said she isn’t a go-getter millennial who set “#goals” and effortlessly achieved them. She’s weathered periods of professional uncertainty; grappled with job-search frustrations in a highly competitive arena; and she’s worked several part-time jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. 

“Often, when you’re in that process, you don’t realize that it’s an important part of what will get you to your ultimate goal,” Wyma-Bradley said. Her SPU experiences also helped her reach her goals. 

She learned to overcome shyness and stepped into leadership roles in the student senate at SPU. Christian professors were also important role models.

“I had professors who mentored me and emulated core values. Having humble leaders helps you learn not to be afraid to say, ‘I know I’m not the best. How can I be better?’ Not every academic setting is like that.”

One mentor was Jennifer McKinney, sociology professor, co-chair of the Sociology Department, and director of women’s studies. She was also Wyma-Bradley’s adviser for her minor in women’s studies. As the capstone project for the minor, Wyma-Bradley worked for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. The experience was a turning point for her. She finished the internship with a new goal to work for a member of Congress in D.C. Meanwhile, McKinney said Wyma-Bradley’s passion for policy was evident. 

“One of the best words to describe Amanda is ‘inspiring,’” McKinney said. “She’s inspired by wanting to make the world a better place, which also makes her inspiring because you see that she has hope for the future, and she’s working to make a better future happen for people well beyond her immediate circle of friends and loved ones.”

After graduating from SPU with a double major in political science and communications, Wyma-Bradley married and moved to Boston. Her husband attended graduate school while she worked on a pilot project funded by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. Through that work, which provided expert forensic support to medical professionals working with sexual assault victims, Wyma-Bradley met another mentor, Kris Rose, then deputy director of OVC.

The project ended in 2017, but the two remained close. Rose offered guidance as Wyma-Bradley pursued her master’s degree in public policy at Georgetown University. 

Rose, now the director of strategic partnerships for Healing Justice in Arlington, Virginia, says she was impressed by Wyma-Bradley’s determination, versatility, and the way she used her cumulative experiences to shape public policy.

“Amanda has worked hard, and she has put in the time,” Rose said. “I’ve witnessed her hard work. It gives me a sense of comfort to know that someone like Amanda is working on the Hill on our behalf.” 

Photo by Kevin Cook

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