On April 22, 2021, the Office of Graduate Intern Programs hosted a virtual event to honor our graduating interns and their supervisors. Springing Forward was meant to symbolize the commitment GPSI has to the growth and expansion of this vital program as well as celebrate all the student and supervisor accomplishments over this tumultuous year. Molly Lamb, Executive Director of the Center for State Policy and Leadership, gave an exciting overview of the Center and introduced many resources to our state agency partners. Additionally, our viewers received an update on the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) from Barbara Van Dyke-Brown, Director.
This event was full of inspiring and motivating stories from a few GPSI success stories as well. We heard from former interns who gave insight to our upcoming graduates which included: treating coworkers with humility, respect and patience, how to apply skills learned in internships to new positions, and to be a sponge and soak every experience in. We heard from:
- Brianna Klein, UIS ’21- Dual Masters of Public Administration and Public Health, IEM
- Christopher Poetschner, UIS ’20- Masters of Data Analytics, IDOT
- Vyvyan Wesley, UIS ’20- Masters of Education, UIS
- Daniel Campbell, UIS ’19- Masters of Public Administration, IGAC
The highlight of the program, as usual, was the presentation of the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership and Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence. Chosen from nomination pools, these award winners come highly recommended from their respective intern or supervisor. Each year, reading the nomination forms enlighten the committee on the incredible work our interns do in state government and shows our supervisor’s commitment to public service.
This year’s Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership winner is Joe McCoy, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Counties. Nominated by his intern, Blair Egan, Joe has proven to be passionate about his position and helping those he serves. He includes Blair on policy conversations and legislative agendas and continuously challenges her to think about potential impacts of even the most minute details. Blair enthusiastically insists that Joe is the best boss she’s ever had and maybe will ever have and is more than a boss, but a mentor. Blair writes, “Even with COVID, Joe has been doing everything he can to try and give me the experience that I had been expecting when I started my internship.”
The Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence winner of 2021 is Rebekah Piatt. Rebekah is a UIS Accountancy student interning at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Darryl Thomas, Rebekah’s supervisor, refers to her as “an absolute godsend.” She takes initiative on projects and takes on extra tasks that have benefited the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center program. She continuously seeks ways to improve methods and techniques of operation. Additionally, Rebekah’s initiative is outstanding as she gathers the information needed and proactively sends the data that is required for bi-weekly reports that go to the Governor’s office. Darryl refers to Rebekah as a “north star” that keeps him focused on the mission at hand.
These nominations and experiences reinforce the incredible work our students and supervisors do for the State of Illinois and its citizens. It also reemphasizes the importance of internships, experiential learning, and Leadership Lived. To view the program, check out the Zoom Recording.
Myra Kaufman is the Assistant Director of the Graduate Public Service Intern program at UIS. Prior to her start at UIS and GPSI in July 2017, Myra earned her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Communication Studies- Interpersonal Communication and her Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education degree in Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership in Higher Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.