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Elizabethtown College students work in PA State Legislature

Jun 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page

ELIZABETHTOWN, PA — The 2012 recipients of the James A. Finnegan Fellowship were recently honored during a banquet at the Governor’s Residence. Four recipients-including Suzanne Laucks and Tyler Eshelman from Elizabethtown College-were selected from a pool of 17 applicants, representing 11 colleges and universities. The winners are participating in paid summer internships in the Harrisburg legislative system, and receive a stipend of at least $1,000.

The Fellowship is awarded each year by the James A. Finnegan Foundation, which was founded in 1960 by friends of Finnegan after his untimely death while serving as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth. Finnegan strongly believed that young people needed experience and education if they were to be successful in government, which inspired his friends to offer Pennsylvania college students and Pennsylvania residents attending out-of-state institutions the opportunity to apply for eight to ten-week summer internships in Pennsylvania legislature. The internships serve to promote, encourage and stimulate a greater interest in politics and government among college students, in hopes that they choose to enter careers in government after graduation.

The annual competition requires students to demonstrate evidence of high scholastic standing and potential for leadership. In addition, applicants must submit an essay on a political science question regarding a current event. For 2012, the topic addressed the present system for the distribution of electoral votes and whether or not the same system should be kept intact.

Since its formation in 1960, nearly 400 students have been awarded the fellowship. Of those, 21 have been from Elizabethtown College. Suzanne Laucks, a senior sociology/anthropology major in the pre-law program, says that Dr. Kyle Kopko, assistant professor of political science and director of the pre-law program at Elizabethtown, played a large role in her choosing to apply and helped her through the application process. Dr. Kopko, himself a recipient of the Finnegan Fellowship in 2004, continues to encourage students from all disciplines to apply.

After receiving the award, Laucks was placed at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry – Office of Unemployment Compensation Tax Services. Her responsibilities include ensuring businesses file compensation forms on time, entering data into the office’s database and creating an index of questions – similar to FAQs – that will be accessible to the public. “Though I know I want to be a lawyer,” Laucks reports “I’m not sure what I want to focus on. This program is helping me figure that out.”

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