In 2011, the University of Dayton piloted the Statehouse Civic Scholars program to place some of its top students in state-level government internships, working for legislators, the governor, a state Supreme Court justice, the attorney general and the secretary of state. With a seed grant from the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fund for Excellence, the program is designed as a mentored field experience, where strong students see government in action, apply their emerging professional expertise, develop their passion for service in the public sector, and perpetuate the values that the University fosters in students through our Catholic, Marianist heritage. Besides working in a variety of state-level offices and sharing their experiences while living in community on a local campus, the scholars attend weekly networking events with alumni, lobbyists, elected members of the General Assembly and others. When the first cohort finished their internships, it was clear that this program was more than experiential; it was transformational. They prepared speeches, wrote memos, drafted briefings, took calls from constituents and conducted research — skills useful in any professional setting. It went well beyond the practical, as they learned:
- active listening skills;
- that valuable cooperation and civility are in a field known much better for the opposites;
- the Marianist charism of inclusivity is as applicable in government as it is on campus;
- and, as they worked to understand viewpoints different from their own, they learned about diplomacy, justice, service and accountability.
Each year, the program seeks 12 bright students to continue the reputation of professionalism and excellence that our previous cohorts have established.