June 2, 2015 at 12:15pm

MU student uses internship opportunity to learn the political ropes

Millikin University undergraduate Paige Ehrat has had a passion for politics, even as a communication major. A junior from Shobonier, Ill., Ehrat understood the importance of gaining hands-on work experiences that would help benefit her career after Millikin. She took advantage of a great opportunity by spending the spring semester serving an academic internship in the Decatur office of Illinois State Senator Chapin Rose, 51st District.

"My experience working for the Senator was very rewarding because not only did I receive experience, but I was also able to learn more about what was going on in the Illinois General Assembly," said Ehrat.

Ehrat first met Senator Rose during the fall semester on Millikin's campus when he made an appearance in one of her courses entitled "State and Local Government." Ehrat began her internship in January 2015.

As part of her responsibilities, Ehrat would review e-mails from constituents expressing their opinions or concerns about a particular bill that was getting voted on. Recently, Ehrat had the opportunity to be Senator Rose's Page for the day at the State Capitol Complex in Springfield, Ill. Senator Pages are able to participate in lawmaking and the legislative process first-hand on Capitol Hill.

"Our office regularly hosts college age interns who are interested in public policy," Rose said. "This year, I was lucky to host Ms. Ehrat for an academic internship out of our Decatur office. At the end of each semester, we invite the interns to come to Springfield to observe the legislature in session. Paige did a great job in our office this spring, and I hope she enjoyed her trip to the capitol. She is very bright, asks a lot of good questions, and her Millikin education is preparing her well for her anticipated degree in communication."

Ehrat added, "I was able to see first-hand how the General Assembly works day to day. A few other senators had Pages with them for the day too – it was nice to see so many members of the General Assembly excited to get the youth of our state excited about learning more about politics."

Senator Rose received a bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis in economics from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. After graduation, Rose attended the University of Illinois College of Law. Before being elected to the legislature, Rose served as a senior assistant state's attorney in Champaign County where he prosecuted felony crimes.

Prior to becoming a member of the Illinois Senate in 2013, Rose served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2003 until 2013.

When reflecting back on the internship experience, Ehrat said, "Some of the best Performance Learning experiences are through internships. Because of this internship, I know just how important communication majors are in the U.S. I'm very excited knowing that, possibly in the future, I can combine my public relations skills with my love of politics and make a career of it."