Master’s in public administration graduate student Brittany Alston currently is wrapping up a quarter-long internship with State Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, of Illinois’ 4th district, something Alston describes as an amazing opportunity for which she is immensely grateful.
The internship came after two critical decisions on Alston’s part: to enroll in DePaul’s School of Public Service’s MPA program, and to commit herself to the government sector of public administration.
“DePaul’s MPA program is amazing,” Alston says, noting it is nationally ranked. Once she entered the MPA program, one of the first things she did was take part in the Springfield Authentic Experiences trip to the Illinois State Capitol Building in May 2018. The trip was organized in part by Nick Kachiroubas, an associate teaching professor in the School of Public Service.
During the trip, Alston met Lightford, which ultimately led her to the internship in Lightford’s district office, and shadowed Representative Chris Welch of the 7th district of Illinois.
“I shadowed Welch for two days and learned so much from him about the legislative process,” she says. “He gave me my first insight into the world of politics and showed me the value of leadership needed in the community.”
Once Alston secured the internship, Kachiroubas encouraged her to apply for DePaul’s Community and Project Based Internship Learning Scholarship
through the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The scholarship is available to students who have secured an internship with a non-profit, non-governmental organization or government entity.
“Brittany really connected with the legislators she met with, and she wanted to get more experience by getting an internship in the district office,” Kachiroubas says.
Through her internship, Alston has learned a great deal about policy, research and relationship building.
“My all-time favorite part of the internship so far is definitely the relationships I have gained with the senator and others in the district,” Alston says. “They have been amazing to me. It’s like a family dynamic and we all strive for greatness together.”
Alston also shares that through volunteer opportunities out of Lightford’s office, she has been able to establish relationships with members of the community, but also learn about community members’ concerns.
“I’ve learned the people are the heart and soul of the community, and it is our duty to do whatever we can to improve the lives of others to create quality change,” Alston says.
Alston will complete her master’s in public administration in June 2019, and her internship will end at the end of this year, although she hopes to continue in some respects.
“I would like to continue working with the Women’s Committee in Senator Lightford’s office and hope to extend the internship another month or two,” she says. “Senator Lightford is helping me succeed in every way I could possibly want, and she has been an enormous advocate for me, along with DePaul faculty and my family.”