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A farewell to Hayley

After a successful stint at the Strib, D.C. intern Hayley Tsukayama is leaving to pursue a full-time job.

WASHINGTON — The first time I ran into Hayley Tsukayama was on the day of the State of the Union, as Rep. Michele Bachmann unveiled her Declaration of Health Care Independence. It wasn’t her first day interning in the Star-Tribune’s D.C. bureau, but she was still pretty new, and I wondered (as I do with all interns) how she’d handle it all.

Just fine, as it turned out.

After a successful stint at the Strib (and a master’s degree in hand from the prestigious journalism school at the University of Missouri) Tsukayama is leaving to pursue a full-time job. Unfortunately for Minnesota, that reduces the number of bodies in Washington covering the state exclusively to just three — myself and the Strib’s Kevin Diaz and Eric Roper.

“After years of toiling in the swamp of the Potomac, it’s always nice to put a pair of fresh eyes on things, and Hayley was great at trolling for stories and offering up new tidbits I might not have seen myself,” Diaz said. “That, and she brought such a sunny disposition to some of the darkest corners of this city.”

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As someone who chased many of the same stories Tsukayama did, I’d second everything Diaz said there.

Her favorite story, she said, was a front-pager on a group of World War II vets who were the first women to fly U.S. military planes — but never got the recognition they deserved. It’s well-written, touching, and could easily anchor her clip file.

Then there was the epic and historic health care debate. “The day before the vote I went out to hang out with Minnesotans in D.C. for the Tea Party rally and then got to be in the chamber during the vote,” she said. “There were so many voices in that whole debate and it was a fantastic opportunity to listen to a wide range of them.”

Though she’s not picky on her eventual destination, Tsukayama said for now she’s focusing her job search on Washington or Austin, Texas — though she added that she’ll always remain a Minnesota girl at heart.

“I’m a Bloomington kid, so I grew up reading the Star Tribune,” she said. “It will always be my paper and being able to write for it was a dream come true.”

And a fine job done at that. To any recruiter out there, consider this a standing recommedation from the competition.