A digital special section of | Subscribe

Erica Knievel Songer

Erica Knievel Songer

Chief counsel | United States Senate | Class of 2003

Erica Knievel Songer is where she is today — the Dirksen Senate Office Building, on Constitution Ave. — thanks in no small part to a favorite faculty member who pointed her in the direction of D.C. as a UI undergrad.

“It is not an overstatement to say that Professor Chip Burkhardt changed my life,” says the Class of ’03 grad, then a double political science/psychology major and now chief counsel to U.S. Senator and Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons.

“He helped me find my way to a White House internship as a 20-year-old idealist, he provided invaluable guidance as I completed my undergraduate education at U of I, and he encouraged me as I nervously embarked on the next stage of my journey at Harvard Law School.

“Sixteen years after graduation — and counting — I am working in Washington, D.C., as the chief counsel for a senator on the Judiciary Committee. I am grateful to Professor Burkhardt for teaching me and telling me to follow my dreams.”