Ted Stevens Foundation Donates $10k to UA Legislative Internship Program with Additional $10k Matching Gift Challenge
The program places Alaskan students from UAA, UAF and UAS in legislative offices during session in Juneau. Students are awarded up to $5,000 based on need and merit to help meet living expenses while working in the state capitol. They earn UAS academic credit as part of the program and participate in weekly leadership seminars.
Date of Press Release: November 23, 2016
The Ted Stevens Foundation has donated $10,000 in support of the University of Alaska State Legislative Internship Program, managed by the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). The Foundation, which was created in 2001 to recognize and honor the legacy of Senator Ted Stevens, is also offering an additional dollar-for-dollar “challenge” grant of up to $10,000 to encourage other donations that the University is hopeful will fill a gap left after the program suffered a $57,000 budget cut.
The UA Legislative Internship Program is gearing up for its 30th year of placing talented Alaskan students from UAA, UAF and UAS in legislative offices during session in Juneau. Students are awarded up to $5,000 based on need and merit to help meet living expenses while working in the state capitol. They earn UAS academic credit as part of the program and participate in weekly leadership seminars.
“Sen. Ted Stevens was proud of the intern program he offered to young Alaskans throughout his 40 year career in the US Senate,” says Karina Waller, the Foundation’s executive director. “The legislative internship program that the University of Alaska Southeast has maintained over the years offers a similar experience with the Alaska State Legislature.”
In the program’s 30 year history more than 300 students have worked for legislators drafting legislation, testifying in committees, helping pass bills through the legislature and working with constituents. The program has served an economically and ethnically diverse student body including Tsimshian, Tlingit, Yupik, Inuit, African American, and Latino students, as well as students from low-income, middle class and upper class backgrounds.
For David Russell Jensen, 21, who is of Tsimshian and Iñupiaq heritage, stipends promote equal opportunities for first-generation students as well as low income students who might not otherwise afford such an opportunity.
“In Juneau we have intimate access to a small legislature. It’s really informative experience for a student.” says Jensen who received a stipend as an intern for Rep. Jonathan Kreiss Tompkins (D-Sitka) last year. Citing the high cost of living, Jensen worries that students who don’t have a lot of money wouldn’t have that same opportunity without a stipend. Jensen is graduating from UAS in May with a Bachelors of Arts in Alaska Native Studies and a minor in Anthropology.
The UAS Legislative Intern Program launched a career for Ketchikan graduate student Elizabeth Bolling, 24, when she began working as a student intern for House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula in 2013. She serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan.) Bolling earned a B.A. in Political Science and Government in 2015 and is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at UAS.
“Because I had this opportunity to prove myself in the workplace, other people recognized my ability. It’s empowering. The internship was a jumpstart for my professional career.” says Bolling. “The Legislative Intern Program is one of the strongest educational and professional programs that the University can provide and it’s urgent that it receives funding.”
Juneau based UAS Political Science professor Glenn Wright, who manages the internship program, encourages the public to learn more about it at www.uas.alaska.edu/internprogram/
For those who want to join the Ted Stevens Foundation in supporting the internship program or want more information contact the UAS Development Office at (907) 796-6320 or go to www.uas.alaska.edu/development.