KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 24, 2023
Each spring, more than 30 students from Georgia’s colleges and universities are selected to participate in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) and receive firsthand experience seeing the legislative process up close.
The GLIP students work with legislators, their committees and their staff during the annual 40-day legislative session, tracking the progress of bills, assisting with constituent requests, organizing and attending committee meetings writing bill summaries, and more. The program, for which students receive course credit, is open to juniors and seniors of all majors.
During the current General Assembly session, five KSU GLIP interns — all political science majors —shared their highlights, expectations and motivations for participating in the program.
Augusta native Raah Curry is a senior with plans to attend law school after graduation. Curry said she felt changing her major from criminal justice and getting involved at the Capitol were some of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“I think every American should know the things I have learned about the government,” she said. “This internship was a physical and visual representation of everything I’ve learned in the classroom for the last four years. I couldn't imagine a better learning experience to close my degree here at KSU.”
She also said observing elected officials has helped her to adjust to the expectations and standards of a professional workplace.
Curry said the issue that stood out to her most through her work at the Capitol was the relationship between mental health issues and the criminal justice system. Watching lawmakers work to find solutions that reduce the amount of mental health crises with criminal outcomes was eye-opening, she said.
“These issues can't be fixed in a day, but it really is hard to pass legislation moving in the right direction if you don't even know what direction you need to go in. Our lawmakers are moving toward solutions,” she said.
Alli Hicks said she wanted to see how her state government worked firsthand, rather than just in her government courses. So, when the junior from Cedartown was able to apply for a statehouse internship, she jumped on it.
Hicks said her time at the Capitol made her realize how important the “behind-the-scenes” work is to the functioning of the government, and how lively debates over proposed laws can be.
Through her internship, Hicks said that she has had many opportunities to meet new people. It also made her realize how important introducing herself to lawmakers, business owners and lobbyists could be later as she establishes a career.
“You need to network and put yourself out there to truly get the full experience,” she said.
Hicks plans to attend law school after graduation.
Junior Brooklin Cox says she plans to attend law school after graduation and hopes someday to run for political office as well.
A Woodstock, Ga. native, Cox said she learned about KSU’s participation in the GLIP internship program when she was a senior in high school and immediately made it her goal to participate. She wanted to see how government worked, but she also hoped to learn how she could make a difference in politics.
“It is important to keep up with governmental policies at every level so that you can be prepared and stay involved,” she said. “If you know what is going on, and how certain legislation will affect you and those around you, you have a better chance to create change.”
Cox said her time working at the Capitol has shown her that while they don’t always agree, most lawmakers work together to consider various solutions.
“You see on the news that both parties are fighting heavily with each other,” she said. “But they compromise and work together for the good of the state more than most people might think.”
Cox said her favorite part of her internship has been meeting senators and representatives and learning why they ran for office, what changes they hope to make and how they’re working to improve literacy in K-12 education, an issue that is particularly important to her.
Senior Alexus Thompson said her internship at the Capitol set her on a path she hopes to continue upon graduation. Thompson said she plans to become a lobbyist in time for the 2024 legislative session.
The Paulding County native said her time at the Capitol last session and this one taught her how important it is to keep an eye on state and local government, where changes most often have a direct effect on residents. Thompson said her work with lawmakers only bolstered her desire to make a positive change in the world through politics.
“I feel the best way to make that happen is to start on a political level, where you have an opportunity to create or influence laws and regulations,” Thompson said. “I was surprised most during my time at the Capitol by how critical it can sometimes be to push a law through.”
Additionally, it was comforting, she said, to see firsthand how the members of the Georgia General Assembly prioritize the good of Georgians in their work to pass laws. Thompson said, most of all, her internship showed her that she was pursuing the right line of work.
Junior Hannah Wright said she has been interested in politics for as long as she can remember. Though she was young, she recalls campaigning for her grandfather, Pete Warren, who served in the Georgia House from 2003 until his death in 2006.
The family history and her continued love of staying up to date on state Capitol news led her to what she said has been a highly influential period in her academic career.
“It just proves how important it is to understand what is happening at the Capitol, because legislation introduced at the state level affects every single one of our individual lives and can often influence federal legislation,” Wright said.
The Augusta native said she has especially enjoyed her work with Sen. Billy Hickman, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee. Hickman and his peers are working to improve Georgia’s literacy rates, which they also expect will create a stronger workforce.
Like most of her KSU GLIP colleagues, Wright plans to attend law school.
– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Judith Pishnery
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.