CHARLESTON W.Va. – Two-thirds of the way into the legislative session the Judith A. Herndon Fellowship interns are getting a firsthand look at how the state’s legislative process works.
Ten interns are assuming various roles with the state Legislature this year helping lawmakers research and evaluate potential legislation and helping advance those proposals.
The interns this year come from West Virginia, Marshall, Concord, Charleston, and Ohio Valley universities and work in offices in the Senate and House of Delegates. “The Herndon experience has been both eye-opening and unforgettable.” said Marshall University junior Jonathan Drake. “The amount you learn outside the classroom and in a real world setting is unbelievable. I will always remember the things I learned throughout this session, and the friends I have made have been incredible as well. I would not have traded this opportunity for the world.”
Undergraduate students from across the state apply in the fall to be Herndon Fellows for the 60-day session. Interns are selected based on their academic qualifications and a rigorous interview process. Once they arrive at the Legislature they are assigned to perform research and various staff functions for individual lawmakers or legislative committees.
The jobs interns can perform include developing informational abstracts to detail bills, researching legislation, and distributing information about committee activities. These duties and other roles the interns may fill throughout the session help them develop an understanding of the politics of legislation and the intricacies of the legislative process. The interns spend their Spring semester away from their respective campuses. In addition to their legislative assignments, they attend twelve academic seminar sessions where they study the history, structure and policy process of the Legislature. They receive 12 hours of college credit upon completion of their internship.
Toward the conclusion of their internship, some interns have been given the opportunity to present bills before their committees.
“I felt honored to be able to present a bill in front of the Judiciary Committee and become an active part of the legislative process,” said Concord University junior Darienne Lilly. “By presenting a bill, I gained both procedural knowledge and experience that I will use in my career endeavors. It was also an enlightening experience to research subject matter pertaining to the bill and gain vital legislative knowledge in the process.”
Judith A. Herndon (1941-1980) was a Wheeling native and an attorney with her father’s law firm. She was appointed to terms in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, serving a total of 10 years. She was known as a voice of moderation and leadership, particularly in the areas of tax reform, sunset legislation, and the protection of civil liberties.
In addition to Drake and Lilly, the interns this year are: Marshall University junior Emily Caplinger, Marshall University junior Whitney Ramey, Concord University senior Sarun Junsiri, West Virginia University junior Michael Petik, West Virginia University junior Mariah Felty, West Virginia University senior Andrew Matus, Ohio Valley University junior Lauren Reid, Ohio Valley University senior Allison Berger, University of Charleston senior Luke Yingling, and University of Charleston senior Kelli Chattin. The program is supervised by a joint committee composed of members of the state Senate and House of Delegates. For more information about the program, contact Sara Jones at 304-340-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.