Professors and Internship Opportunities Prepared ESU Political Science Student for Career in Harrisburg
Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on July 21, 2021, No Comments
Lauryn Antoine didn’t become interested in politics until high school when, she said, “It kind of happened progressively—I fell into it.” The more she learned about feminism and critical race theory, the more her interest grew. Politics became her career path. “I got into political science and wanting to help stamp out bias and racism. I’m interested in bringing my feminism to policy. I’m trying to reach out and help people who are marginalized,” she said.
Antoine graduated from ESU in May 2020 with a degree in political science. While at ESU, Antoine participated in the Osgood Center Program, a 2-week educational program that focuses on politics, domestic and foreign policy, media, and public policy. “Dr. [Kimberly] Adams took me and a couple of other students to this program in Washington, D.C. We participated in lectures and discussions and learned leadership skills from guest speakers,” Antoine said. The roster of speakers included professors, authors, legislators, attorneys, analysts, and the founder of C-SPAN. The student group also visited the U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, and several museums.
As a student, Antoine completed fellowships with two nonprofits and worked as an intern for Representative Susan Wild (PA-07). These opportunities gave her firsthand experience with the world of politics. “I greeted visitors, picked up the phone and talked to constituents. If a person had an issue with a federal agency, we would reach out to our contacts at that agency and help figure out the issue. I tracked things in the database to see who was helped by our office. We tried to help them in any way possible,” she said.
Now living in Harrisburg, Antoine started her job as a legislative assistant with the Pennsylvania House Democrats in June 2021. Her internship helped prepare her for the job. “I still help constituents. If they have issues with any state agencies, we help move the process forward. If someone has any issues with PennDOT—for instance, if they’ve applied for a handicapped placard, we help move that forward. We will go down to the house floor and introduce legislation. We track the representatives’ travel expenses so they can be reimbursed. I help make sure things move more smoothly,” Antoine explains. She stresses the importance of internships when it comes to gaining professional experience. “Many people may underestimate how much they mimic real job experience. With mine [for Rep. Wild], I was basically like a staff member. When I pick up phones here in Harrisburg, I’m doing the exact same thing that I did in my internship. There are the little things you’re introduced to beforehand—you’re familiar with it, you excel at it. You’re ready to go when you’re on the job.”
Antoine works closely with legislative decision makers and influential figures. She met Governor Tom Wolf during her first week when she was shadowing a fellow legislative assistant. Antoine was asked if she wanted to go to an event for the Toni Morrison Society. While there, Representative Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia) asked Antoine if she would like to meet the governor. Every day is different—that’s what makes it exciting and interesting.
Antoine is well on her way to fulfilling her professional ambitions. Her future plans include earning a master’s degree in public administration. “I can see myself working in a variety of departments or agencies in the government to learn more about policy in hands-on way,” she said. “One day, I would like to take these experiences and knowledge of policy to lead a non-profit organization that advocate for women’s rights.”