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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Richard Morisette (L), a past Statehouse Civic Scholar, is part of the Statehouse staff for Ohio Senator Jerry Cirino.

Programs celebrate more than a decade of developing public servants

Veronica Paulson Scherbauer dreamed of pursuing a career in government. She thought that might mean working in Washington, D.C., but after a semester’s long internship in the nation’s capital, she realized she’d prefer to serve closer to home. 

As a University of Dayton student, Paulson Scherbauer (see photo below story) was an active member of Abolition Ohio, an anti-human trafficking organization founded and run by Tony Talbott from the University of Dayton. When she learned about a new UD program to provide students with fully funded summer residential internships in state government, she didn’t hesitate to apply. 

Paulson Scherbauer, a 2011 and 2013 graduate, would become one of the first participants in UD’s Statehouse Civic Scholars program, landing an internship with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to work with the state’s human trafficking commission. She currently works as an anti-human trafficking program specialist at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, assisting with the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force, and is considered one of the state’s leading experts in the field.

“I was really excited about the prospect of working in state government,” Paulson Scherbauer said. “The opportunity lined up perfectly with my interests and experience.” 

Along with DC Flyers, a similar opportunity in the nation's capital, the programs are helping the University of Dayton develop the next generation of public servants. For more than a decade, the AES Ohio Foundation has provided generous financial support, and renewed its commitment this year by providing $25,000 to each program.

Through the Statehouse Civic Scholars, an eight-week, summer residential internship opportunity in Columbus, Ohio, 12 students each year intern in state government offices and with interest groups and lobbying firms, among others. Last year's scholars worked in the offices of the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, speaker of the house, budget and management, and several legislators. Students receive three credit hours, a stipend and accommodation in apartments near state offices. 

DC Flyers is open to University Honors students interested in careers in civic engagement, governance, public policy, human rights, non-profit work or leadership. Students receive housing in Washington, D.C., and a fellowship of up to $3,000 to cover expenses. Students work in federal government or other agencies according to their interest. DC Flyers has enrolled students like Anamaria Karrels, a 2016 graduate, who has served as a Foreign Service Officer in Zambia.

When the Statehouse Civic Scholars program welcomes its 14th class to Columbus this summer, the program will have provided internships to 170 UD students. More than half of Statehouse Civic Scholars program alumni have remained in the public service sector, including in roles in and related to state government, associations and nonprofits. Others have been involved in public service in the Dayton region through city government, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and the Dayton Development Coalition. Some Statehouse Civic Scholars alumni have moved to Washington, D.C. to continue their careers. 

Multiple students have chosen to do both programs, including Richard Morisette, a 2023 UD graduate who works in Columbus as a senior legislative aide for Ohio State Senator Jerry Cirino. Morisette (on the left in the image above) went through Statehouse Civic Scholars in 2021 and DC Flyers in 2022. 

Morisette said he looked for colleges that offered public service opportunities, and these programs were the reason he decided to attend UD.

“The Statehouse Civic Scholars program and DC Flyers provide remarkable opportunities for students to gain an immersive experience in public service,” Morisette said. “If it wasn’t for the housing and stipend these programs offered, I wouldn’t have been able to afford these experiences.”

As a Statehouse Civic Scholar, he split time Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays interning for two Ohio state senators. He took on an additional opportunity to work in Gov. Mike DeWine’s campaign office on his off days Monday and Friday for a full immersive experience in state politics. In the DC Flyers program, Morisette was an intern in the office of then-U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

Morisette said he’d like to continue working in Columbus, and credits the programs for exposing him to opportunities in state government. Paulson Scherbauer also attributes her 10-year state government career to her Statehouse Civic Scholars experience, and hopes future UD students take advantage of the opportunity. 

“Working for a large government agency can be intimidating, and I don’t think I ever would have walked into the attorney general’s office and asked for an internship,” Paulson Scherbauer said. “I’m so glad I had someone who could walk us through that process, and it’s so important we continue to give students access and exposure to these opportunities.”  

Anyone interested in supporting the programs can contribute to the Statehouse Civic Scholars endowment fund and the DC Flyers endowment fund.

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