WASHINGTON, D.C. - Megan Gould, a Glenwood Springs native who says she has "always dreamed of being a Supreme Court justice," is spending the next several months in the very environment she has idolized from afar.
Gould, 20 (she turns 21 later this month), is serving an internship with the Supreme Court under Cornell University's "Cornell in Washington" program.
She is one of about 40 students from Cornell, which is located in Ithaca, New York, and she said she is working directly with a couple of other Cornell interns in her office at the court.
"Mary and I are just extremely thrilled," said Megan's dad, Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction. "She has always been a great student, and she continues to excel at college, which is opening up so many opportunities for her."
Megan Gould, currently a second semester junior, has been working on a mechanical engineering degree at Cornell.
"I've always been passionate about math and science," she said.
She conceded that her passions did not exactly make her the most popular girl in high school.
"I was kind of off in my own little corner, doing homework most of the time," she recalled.
Gould also was a star in all four of her years on the Glenwood Springs High School Mock Trial team.
And even as early as her graduation from middle school, according to her dad, a teacher mused that "she might be the next Supreme Court justice."
"Mock Trial really inspired me," Megan said. "Mock Trial gave me more life lessons than anything else."
That split set of passions - science and the law - was a big factor in her choice of majors, Megan Gould told the Post Independent.
"The thing about law school is, you can have an undergraduate degree in anything you want," she explained.
And since she was a math and science whiz, he figured a mechanical engineering degree might be a unique entrance into a specialized field of the law.
"Right now, I'm considering patent law," she said, which would allow her to use her science and math background.
"And it might just keep me sane," she added with a chuckle.
Meanwhile, she is seeing the sights around Washington, attending classes at Cornell's Washington facility on DuPont Circle, and working as an intern at the Supreme Court.
Her duties, she said, are not very clearly defined, beyond a general assignment to assist attorneys seeking entry to the Supreme Court Bar or getting ready for arguments before the nine justices.
"I have a lot of phone calls, and I answer a lot of questions" about Supreme Court policies and procedures, she said.
She also will be admitted to the court to observe arguments in several cases during her time there.
She said she has requested permission to observe cases involving gay marriages, the collection of DNA from prisoners, and patent issues.
Admitting that she is in awe of the majesty of the Supreme Court most of the time, Gould said, "I've never been in this kind of a setting before."
But she credited her Mock Trial experience with preparing her for what she is witnessing now, and especially her Mock Trial coach, local attorney Charlie Willman.
Gould is due to graduate in May 2014, and says she already has her sights set on law school either at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., or Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
She acknowledged that both schools are in two highly urbanized areas when compared to western Colorado. But, like the confidence she gained from the Mock Trials, her time in Washington has made her certain she can handle herself and have fun wherever she ends up.
"I've never really been in a city setting," she said, "and it amazes me how easy it is to navigate around it."
Above all, she is confident that she is doing what she was meant to do.
"I want to leave no doubt that I do deserve what I'm getting," she declared.