Max Tegen is passionate about research. Intense research. Luckily, that’s exactly what the Manitowoc County native was able to do at his Wisconsin State Capitol internship.
Each Friday this spring semester, Max made his way to State Senator Andre Jacque’s office and settled in to do some “Max Level Research” on the history of Senate District 1’s towns and cities.
What does “Max Level” mean?
“Max-imize,” Max said.
The freshman is definitely “max”-imizing his college experience between classes, working at Phil’s, and his internship. But, really, that’s what the Cutting Edge program is all about.
The program is designed to offer a fully-inclusive college experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Max has Down syndrome, and is “certainly rockin’ that extra chromosome,” according to his mom, Cathy.
During high school, Max was involved in the Youth in Partnership with Parents for Empowerment (YiPPE) program, where he learned about an opportunity at Edgewood College called the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum. This is where he was introduced to the Cutting Edge Program.
“When the week ended, I said that I really wanted to go to this college. I was so determined,” Max said. “When I read the acceptance letter, my mom had actual tears of joy. I was emotional about it, too, because it’s been my dream.”
Going to college in Madison opened new opportunities for Max, including being able to work for a legislator he had a long history with.
Before becoming a state senator, Jacque was an involved representative in Manitowoc County. It was his involvement with Dillon’s Law, named for Eagle Scout Dillon Mueller who had passed away from an allergic reaction and lack of EpiPen access, and the subsequent signing of it at Mishicot High School with Governor Walker, that had a lasting impact on Max.
Like Dillon, Max is a proud Eagle Scout and has earned 57 merit badges. When Jacque was appointed to the Committee on Local Government, Small Business, Tourism and Workforce Development, Cathy made a Facebook comment asking, “Do you need an Eagle Scout assistant?” Instead of an assistant, Jacque offered Max an internship.
“I was very honored,” Max said. “I wanted to do tourism with Andre because of the counties. I know every single county in Wisconsin – all 72 of them. This is a passion for me. So, I’m researching every single town and city in the First Senate District and how they got their name.”
Max is a master at remembering details and making connections, making his project an ideal undertaking.
“Max brings a great enthusiasm and unique perspective to the office with his in-depth knowledge of history and has taught my staff about the history of the First Senate District,” Jacque said. “His passion for his project is motivating. With the correct guidance, an intern can work toward finding their own passion, just like Max has. They give a unique inside look at the legislative process, and insight you won’t get with other college-aged jobs.”
For Max, working with “pretty good dudes” in the office and following his research passions has been rewarding. Getting to do it in Madison is just a bonus.
“I enjoy the location. You can serve and represent Madison as the best capital city,” Max said.
He’ll stay busy this summer, too, with a job at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in downtown Manitowoc. They have some “Max level research” that needs to get done.
“He’s just had so many opportunities through the Cutting Edge program,” Cathy said.
“It’s just an awesome program.”