MURRAY, Ky. — Two Murray State University students pursuing degrees in political science spent their summers experiencing the Kentucky political system in action through regional internship opportunities.
Jodi Henon of Bowling Green interned at the state office of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, while Christopher Stewart of Kuttawa worked as a student intern for the Lyon County Courthouse.
“This was a great opportunity to witness the impact our government has on citizens from a new perspective,” Henon said. “Through this internship, I was able to gain personal experience that is relative to my area of study and to relate course materials to real-life situations.”
Henon is a junior at Murray State pursuing a double major in political science and accounting. With aspirations to work as a lawyer, Henon sought after an internship position that would allow her to gain a better understanding of the processes behind how laws are made.
In her day-to-day responsibilities at the Bowling Green state office, Henon collaborated with a variety of federal agencies and listened to constituents who called in or wrote to the senator. For Henon, the primary takeaway from the experience was that “people are truly involved in their government,” she said, adding, “our government is for all people in this country and strives to represent them.”
Stewart, a political science and organizational communication double major, experienced a similar realization during his internship at the Lyon County Courthouse. Stewart worked primarily with Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White to research the Asian carp problem among other tasks.
“I plan on going into public service later in my life,” Stewart said, “and I hope this experience helps to make me a better person for that job in the future.”
By interning in the Lyon County Courthouse, Stewart worked one-on-one with the judge executive and other professionals who crossed over the building’s threshold each day. He gained experience in the field and formed lasting professional connections through the position’s networking opportunities.
For this reason, he advised future students looking to pursue similar goals to consider looking into smaller internships rather than just “the big names,” he said.
“Internships are all about learning,” Stewart said. “Sometimes it’ll surprise you how much you can learn in a smaller, more personal space.”
Altogether, internships are opportunities for students from all disciplines to apply their knowledge in real-world, practical settings. Political internships like Henon and Stewart’s also allow elected officials in the Commonwealth to see firsthand the work ethic and knowledge Murray State students routinely exhibit.
“Any time one of our students has the opportunity to gain valuable experience in state, federal or local government, it truly allows them to practice and put into perspective everything they are learning in their Murray State classrooms,” said Jordan Smith, director of government and institutional relations. “I am very proud of both Jodi and Chris in what they have accomplished and very appreciative to Senator Paul and Judge White for offering them these opportunities.”