UMBC: Preparing for a Public Service Career

Published: Aug 31, 2004

Preparing for a Public Service Career

Since 1987, over 300 students have participated in the Governor’s Summer Internship Program (GSIP), which is coordinated by The Shriver Center at UMBC. The program was created to introduce high achieving college students to the unique challenges and rewards of working within Maryland state government. This year, UMBC students Crisandra Bailey, Aaron Merki and Tiffany Deinzer joined 17 other students to jumpstart their careers in public service.

All participants in the program spend 10 weeks working full-time on substantive projects with senior level public administrators and policy makers in government departments or in policy areas that reflect the interns’ fields of study and career interests. The interns also attend biweekly seminars and site visits that introduce them to a wide range of topics relevant to state government. This year, interns have met with a number of prominent state officials, including Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch and Secretary Nelson Sabitini of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Throughout the summer, interns work in small groups to develop policy papers that are presented to the Governor at the end of the summer.

Crisandra Bailey, an English major, and Aaron Merki, who is studying political science, interned at the Maryland State Department of Education. Bailey worked with Professional Development Grant Programs, evaluating grants for state-aided programs and going on site visits to answer questions from groups looking to secure state education funding. Her future plans include graduate school and a career in advocacy for the disabled and special education.

Merki worked with the Program Improvement and Family Involvement Branch, researching and drafting recommendations on increasing parental involvement in public schools that can be implemented at the state and local level. He plans on attending law school and hopes to be involved in creating education systems in developing countries. Bailey and Merki are collaborating on their policy paper, which examines alternative methods of instruction that help students who do not respond to traditional pedagogy and make adequate yearly progress, as stipulated by No Child Left Behind.

Tiffany Deinzer, a political science and economics major, interned in the Maryland Office for New Americans, which assists recent refugees and political asylees who settle in Maryland. Her primary project for the summer was to assess existing English as a Second Language programs to determine which techniques and strategies were most effective in keeping refugees and asylees involved with such programs. Her policy paper, which she is writing with two other interns, examines ways in which new immigrants to the Baltimore region can be better integrated into the larger community. She plans to pursue a career with the federal government in the area of international affairs. Christine Routzahn, UMBC’s GSIP Coordinator and Associate Director of Professional Practice at the Shriver Center, states, “The Governor’s Summer Internship Program provides students with an opportunity to take their theoretical understanding of public policy out of the academic setting to real life. In addition to their work interning in State agencies, their policy papers allow them the opportunity to generate solutions to some of Maryland’s most critical issues.”

Applicants to the program must be undergraduates attending a two-or four-year university or college in Maryland, or are Maryland residents attending an out-of-state college or university. The applicants must be entering their junior or senior year and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The interns are selected by a committee of representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Lt. Governor’s Office, and several state agencies . Information about the program is available online.

Pictured on UMBC homepage: David Hodnett, Coordinator of Professional Practice, The Shriver Center; Aaron Merki, UMBC Student; Michele Wolff, Director, The Shriver Center; Crisandra Bailey, UMBC student; Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.; Christine Routzahn, Associate Director of Professional Practice & Coordinator of GSIP, The Shriver Center; Shirley Carrington, Office Supervisor, The Shriver Center; Tiffany Deinzer, UMBC student.



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