Students at the Statehouse
What happens when you place 12 politically savvy Flyer students in the heart of Columbus, Ohio? According to the 2019 Statehouse Civic Scholars, a lot. Each week, the students shared dispatches with their faculty mentors about the highs and lows experienced on the job and in the state capital. Here are a few:
Rachel Carr, senior political science major: Internship with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management
High: I absolutely loved touring the Ohio Supreme Court. Because of a personal interest in art and architecture, I was somewhat familiar with the skyline and some of the larger buildings. Touring the Ohio Supreme Court building reminded me that I was seeing the city from a historical perspective. When I saw the LeVeque Tower in the murals of the building, I felt like I was seeing them from the perspective of someone from the 1930s. Beyond the architectural surprises, I was shocked by how candid and generous Justice Judith French was with her time. Hearing her trajectory and the dynamics of elections has elevated my curiosity in Ohio's court system. I will certainly be back; if not to sit in on a hearing, then to just see more of the building's history.
Low: I'm developing an inventory of all of the state-funded hotlines and call centers to look for redundancies. I've identified the hotlines, but I am now in the process of contacting all of the budget analysts for fund information for their own hotlines. With over 40 hotlines and multiple agencies for each analyst, organizing my requests and the information they provide has been challenging yet satisfying. I thought I had sent everyone an email asking for the information I needed, but I realized I made a mistake and had to send two follow-up correction emails. Trying to figure out how to mitigate my mistake without creating difficulties for the analysts was uncomfortable. Even when there are very low stakes, mistakes are never fun.
Jake Neff, junior political science major: Internship with State Sen. Steve Wilson
High: My high for this week happened on Wednesday. I got to attend two events at the Statehouse with the rest of the office. The first was a luncheon in the atrium sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business. The free food and quick escape from the office was a nice break during this crazy week. The second event immediately followed the lunch. We went to the members' lounge where there was a retirement ceremony for one of the state trooper K9s named Bady. We got cake, and I got to pet Bady!
Low: My low for this week was very embarrassing. I went with my supervisor, Libby Hildebrandt, and Senator Steve Wilson to a newspaper interview with Robert Sprague, the Ohio treasurer. On the way out of the Statehouse, I got stuck in the revolving door in-between Libby and Senator Wilson. I thought it was an automated door, but apparently it's operated by a button. I didn't press the button, so Senator Wilson had to press it which then reversed the door so I could give it another go. Libby and Senator Wilson had a good laugh, and in hindsight, it is fairly funny. However, I am still pretty embarrassed about it.
Emma Kapp, senior communication major: Internship with State Rep. Brigid Kelly
High: I wrote a sponsor testimony that my representative actually used in her first hearing. Yes, it was just for her bill making the sugar cookie the official cookie of Ohio, but I was still very excited that she liked what I wrote enough to use it.
Low: The sports betting bill we are working on is a little difficult for me to understand. There are a lot of specifics and gaming terms that are unfamiliar to me. Representative Kelly and her legislative aide, Hope, have been good about answering my questions, but I'll probably do some more reading on it so I don't have to keep bothering them.
Bryan Borodkin, senior political science major: Internship with the Ohio Environmental Council
High: My main project this week was researching federal U.S. EPA state revolving funded projects that Ohio has completed with success. I am drafting a publication that, after being reviewed by my superiors, will be sent to the U.S. Senate to ask for an additional $9 billion to be allocated for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. This project has been incredible as I have learned about some awesome environmental innovation that Ohio has propelled. I also feel that my work is trying to make a difference, and my supervisors were very pleased with my first draft!
Low: Our office softball team played the Senate Republican team yesterday featuring Ian Dollenmayer, a former Flyer and current legislative liaison at Ohio Department of Taxation. Someone on the Republican bench started muttering HB6 when one of my co-workers was up to bat as an inside joke. We lost 16-7, and even though it was definitely a tough loss, it was all in good fun. On a serious note, I had a great week and I can't really think of any lows. One thing I need to work on while I finish the second half of this awesome program is reaching out and networking. There are still several people that I would like grab coffee or lunch with, but I have yet to do so. I am going to plan on trying to schedule two coffee appointments a week while I am still here!
Journal entries edited by Lauren Durham ’22.