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Legislative Scholars Heading to Tallahassee

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By Karen Guin

Eleven of UCF's best and brightest students are heading to Tallahassee this month and next to work in state legislative offices during Florida's 2014 legislative session.

The students will serve as UCF Legislative Scholars, conducting research, assisting with constituent relations, tracking bills and supporting other daily operations of a legislative office during the session, which runs March 4 to May 2. They will work full-time and receive a stipend and housing in the state capital for a minimum of three months.

UCF established the Legislative Scholars Internship in 2005 to provide students with insight into the workings of state government and the Florida Legislature. To be eligible for the internship, students must be a junior, senior or graduate student in a communication, legal studies, political science or public administration academic program.

Students are selected for the internship through a rigorous application and interview process led by Fred Kittinger, associate vice president of state and local government affairs. Kittinger appoints a committee of UCF faculty and staff members and representatives from local legislative offices to select the interns.

Successful candidates exhibit strong communication skills, including speaking, writing, research and computer skills; an interest in or knowledge of the legislative process; and a demonstrated ability to work with others in a fast-paced, highly visible environment.

"This year's field of candidates for the internship was the strongest to date," Kittinger shared.

The 2014 interns include seven legal studies majors, two communication majors, a political science major and a graduate student in public administration. Ten have been assigned to state senator and representative offices, and one has been assigned to the government relations office of a law firm. (For the intern placements, see http://bit.ly/1j2Zk5u.)

Kathy Cook, instructor of legal studies, is especially proud so many students in her program are participating this year. "They are very professional students and well-prepared for this experience," she said.

Legal studies junior Mikaela Duffy moved to Tallahassee last weekend to intern in Senator Alan Hays' office. She will room with Jessica Sirianni, a legal studies and finance junior who heads to Tallahassee next month to intern at the Gray Robinson law office. Both plan to attend law school and are thrilled to be part of the legislative process.

"This will do nothing but help us learn how to work in the legal and legislative fields," Duffy said excitedly.

Duffy's excitement is understandable. Alumni of the internship program have been hired by both state and federal legislative offices and other government offices, and several have been accepted to prominent law schools.

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— Michael Neimann M.S. in health care informatics ('14)
My internship with the District 9 Medical Examiner’s Office was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I gained an excellent understanding of the medical examiner’s office and the criminal justice field in general."
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