Newswise — Fifteen West Virginia University students spent the spring 2019 semester interning at the West Virginia State Legislature.

Throughout the 60-day legislative session, which ran from Jan. 9 through March 9, the interns observed the making of public policy, study how legislative decisions are made and aid legislators in their daily work activities.

Judith A. Herndon Fellowship

Nathaniel Burdette, Jarred Cannon, Jacob Coots and Jessica Dobrinsky were selected as Herndon Fellows. Through the fellowship, they gained professional experience by assisting a legislator from the State Senate or House of Delegates for the duration of the 2019 legislative session.

Cannon is a political science major and history minor from Huntington, West Virginia.

“The Herndon Fellowship is an incredible opportunity to work alongside our state’s legislators to enact meaningful legislation that will impact the entire state. As a result of this experience, I have been able to learn more about the legislative process than I could have even guessed that there was to know,” Cannon said. “The connections I have made in Charleston will be invaluable for my future career path, and I am certain that anyone who wants to go into public service at some point in their lives would benefit from the chance to do this fellowship.”

Coots is a political science major with a sociology minor, from Beckley, West Virginia. He aspires to be an attorney and plans on running for the House of Delegates in the future.

“The Herndon Fellowship is a unique experience,” Coots said. “Working beside a legislator has taught me proper strategy and how important it is. Mastering strategy as an attorney will help me build my career.”

In addition to becoming more familiar with the politics of legislation, Herndon Fellows perform legislative research to aid in bill drafting and develop an understanding of the role and function of committees and the executive-legislative liaison.

Associate Professor of Political Science Jason MacDonald is the WVU faculty contact for the Herndon Fellowship and the Frasure-Singleton Internship. 

Rollins-Burk Internship

Amanda Davis and Ian Kilwein, graduate students in the Master of Public Administrationprogram, were selected as Rollins-Burk Interns.

Davis, a Pennsboro, West Virginia, native, hoped to gain a balanced perspective on policy issues. 

“I have been immersed in the world of government, looking at advocacy from a different angle. Instead of rallying with the advocates, I have had the opportunity to watch as our senators and delegates listen to their constituents. I will have become a better-rounded advocate because of this internship,” Davis said. “One can read endless books while in class about policy theory; however, this internship putting theory to practice allows for a better understanding of how public policy and advocacy works.”

Davis’ background in anthropology allows her to have a different point of view concerning policymaking and government issues.

“I don’t have the typical background most interns have coming into this job. This has allowed for me to come into this internship with a different perspective. I tend to stray from the traditional views of the policy making process,” Davis said. “Also, as I progressed through my academics, my researching skills have gotten better. These skills have helped me assist the attorneys in the Judiciary Committee.”

Kilwein, from Morgantown, West Virginia, aspires to work in a state or federal public service position. 

“Throughout my work with the West Virginia State Legislature, I have gained practical experience that will be helpful in the pursuit of a career in public service,” Kilwein said. “The skills that I think will be most helpful include researching policy issues, using relevant information to draft bills and resolutions and presenting in front of committees.” 

Christopher Plein, the Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service, is the WVU contact for the Rollins-Burk Internship.

Frasure-Singleton Internship

Nine WVU students served as Frasure-Singleton Inters for one week during the 2019 legislative session. Interns from the Department of Political Science included Corinne Connor, from Wheeling, West Virginia; Sarah Hackney from Wadsworth, Ohio; Calvin Tomblin from Logan, West Virginia; and Jeremiah Werhoff from Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Criminology majors included Phillip Carman from Bridgeville, Pennsylvania; Alexis Douglas from Monroe, Ohio; and Katie McClung from Morgantown, West Virginia. 

Sydney Hartman, a student in the Reed College of Media, and Hannah Thompson, a student in the College of Business and Economics, were also Frasure-Singleton Interns this semester.

Frasure-Singleton interns are assigned a specific state senator or delegate and participate in committee meetings and public hearings, conduct issue-based research and other legislative tasks. 

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