Tuesday September 12, 2017

Statehouse Civic Scholars

Now in its sixth year, the University of Dayton Statehouse Civic Scholars program is helping to build a community of students and alumni in and around the Ohio statehouse.

Created by then-department of political science chair Jason Pierce and founded under the leadership of Eileen Austria and former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, the program gives 12 undergraduate students summer internship opportunities at the state capital in Columbus.

Austria and Taft launched the program in 2012 to help develop the next generation of public servants and create a strong alumni network in the Columbus area.

One-third of the program’s 72 graduates have gained full-time employment in and around the statehouse either immediately upon graduation or after attending graduate or law school.

“There is a great value in state government work and it’s a bonus when we can introduce talented students to excellent role models,” said Austria, Statehouse Civic Scholars’ program director.

Taft, University distinguished research associate, was immediately drawn into the program through his passion for interacting with students and his extensive knowledge of state government. His contacts in Columbus from his tenure as governor generate a wide range of opportunities for students.

“One of the goals of the program is to introduce students to Ohio’s state government, where many excellent job opportunities are open to our students,” Taft said.

Each year, 12 students are selected to intern in a variety of offices and departments in all three branches of state government. Interns have been placed in the Governor’s Office, the Ohio Supreme Court and with Ohio’s legislative leaders. The students are provided housing at Capital University and a stipend covering travel and other various expenses during the eight-week program.

In addition to working full-time, the scholars also participate in weekly networking events with University alumni. Several of the events are presented by AT&T and Dayton Power & Light Co., who are major funders for the program.

Nate Sikora, a 2017 Statehouse Civic Scholar, found the program not only provided resources for future internships and jobs after graduation but it also helped him form close relationships with other students in the program.

“I realized it was not only important to network with older professionals in your desired field, but also with the friends around you,” said Sikora, who interned at the Office of Budget and Management.

University graduate Ian Dollenmayor ’16 found successful job placement as a result of the program. “My time in the Statehouse Civic Scholars program helped me enhance my political skill and build a robust network of friends and colleagues, both of which I utilize on a daily basis as a senior legislative aide in the Ohio Senate,” he said.

The program continues to develop every year. Last summer, it had first-time placements in the Department of Mental Health as well as the Civil Rights Commission, as a result of student interest in those areas.

“Every year different government offices open their doors to UD interns,” Taft said. “Not only do the students receive an experiential learning opportunity, but state government benefits from talented and hardworking students who demonstrate what our students have to offer.”

The Taft and Austria partnership goes back to the 1980s when Austria began as a Legislative Service Commission fellow. When Taft became governor in 1999, Austria was working as a district director for an Ohio congressman and her husband, Steve Austria, as a member of the Ohio General Assembly. She and Taft became friends and continue working together at the University.

Since 2008, Austria has been advocating for the University of Dayton at the state level in Columbus. Her goals include raising the profile of the University and building a team of University graduates in the Columbus area.

“Our alumni have a strong and growing presence in state government, and I look forward to helping that expand in future years,” Taft said.

More information can be found on the program’s website.

- Lauren Reid ’18

2017 STATEHOUSE CIVIC SCHOLARS

Ann Balke Senior Grand Rapids, Michigan Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Michael Callahan Senior Akron, Ohio Supreme Court of Ohio
Quinn Carlson Senior Sugar Grove, Illinois Supreme Court of Ohio
John Gomez Junior Hewitt, New Jersey Ohio Auditor of State
Jack Huffman Junior Lima, Ohio Ohio Attorney General
Katherine Liming Senior Defiance, Ohio Senate Democrat Caucus
Laura Martine Senior Franklin, Wisconsin Office of Senator Matt Huffman and Frank LaRose
Brynn Mays Senior Louisville, Kentucky Ohio Department of Youth Services
Lauren Reid Senior Madison, Connecticut Governor Kasich’s Communication Team
Bree Richards Senior Findlay, Ohio Ohio Department of Mental Health 
Nathan Sikora Junior Dublin, Ohio Ohio Office of Budget and Management
Jada Woods Senior Stone Mountain, Georgia Ohio Civil Rights Commission  

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