Three TU students make their mark in local policy

By Kyle Hobstetter on August 15, 2019

As part of the Maryland Public Service Scholars program, TU students participated in the Governor’s Summer Internship Program

TU Students pose with their after completing the Governor's Summer Internship Program
This past summer, Olivia Lubarsky, Christelle Mbah and Sofia Ross participated in Maryland’s Walter Sondheim Jr. Public Service Scholars internship program. The three were part of the Governor's Summer Internship Program. Photo provided by the Executive Office of the Governor.  

Each summer, students from colleges and universities from across the country gain real world public service experience as part of Maryland’s Walter Sondheim Jr. Public Service Scholars internship program.     

In 2008, the state of Maryland entered a partnership with the Shriver Center at UMBC to support the Public Service Scholars programs, which is comprised of four separate programs that provide paid summer internships in different public service areas in Maryland.

One of the initial programs of the Public Service Summer Scholars program was the Governor's Summer Internship Program (GSIP), which actually began in 1987 before being added to the Public Service Scholars program.

This past summer, three Towson University students participated in the GSIP. Olivia Lubarsky ’20, Christelle Mbah '20 and Sophia Ross '20 had the opportunity to work full-time in their respective state agencies, while being mentored by senior level administrators.

Additionally, participants attended biweekly seminars where they explored all facets of state government, spoke with key decision makers, and received coaching on policy writing. Students also worked in groups, applying the knowledge gained in seminars and at their sites, to research and prepare a policy analysis and recommendation. 

The program culminated on Friday, August 9 with a celebration at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, where students presented their policies to the Governor’s staff. 

Learn more about our three GSIP participants, as we asked them to talk about their summer and share their experience working with the Governor’s office. 

Olivia Lubarsky ’20

Business administration major from Los Angeles, California
Worked with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)

Olivia Lubarsky with Secretary of State John Wobensmith
Olivia Lubarsky poses with her Governor's Citation alongside Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith. Photo provided by the Executive Office of the Governor

What kind of projects did you work on during the summer?

This summer, I enjoyed working alongside MHEC’s Director of Communications, Ms. Rhonda Wardlaw, to develop and implement multiple campaigns to educate college students on components of the opioid crisis: 1) how to administer naloxone, 2) the dangers of fentanyl, 3) Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law – all in a collective effort to additionally rebrand and promote MHEC as an agency that cares for its students inside and outside of the classroom.

Through this opportunity, I designed a primary campus outreach event that will take place on college campuses throughout the state during the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, as well as cultivated a relationship between MHEC and potential speakers, among other duties.

What was your experience like in the GSIP?

Participating in the GSIP was an unparalleled experience. I am grateful for the exposure to new stages of opportunity and growth from the program, as well as from MHEC. This summer, I gained insight into the operations of state government, while expanding my professional network tremendously, and learned the true value of transforming my skills and resources into a platform for my community.

Christelle Mbah ’20

Health education and promotion major originally from Cameroon, West Africa
Worked with the Maryland Department of Health

Christelle Mbah with Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith
Christelle Mbah poses with her Governor's Citation alongside Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith. Photo provided by the Executive Office of the Governor

How are you hoping this experience helps with your future?

This experience has been such an eye opener for me, as I have learnt so much about myself and my career path. After Towson University, I intend to go to graduate school to obtain my Masters in Public Health with a Health Policy Concentration.

This experience allowed me to narrow down my interest within the field of public health, something which I had struggled with before. It also gave me an opportunity to network with professionals in the field who have 20-plus years of experience and are willing to serve as mentors to young people.

What do you tell someone who is interested in applying for this program?

For any student who is interested in applying for this program, I will say GO FOR IT! Do not be discouraged by the lengthy application. I will also encourage students to put their best foot forward during the course of the program. Networking is extremely important, as it opens so many doors for you. Finally, I will say get ready for an intense summer, but enjoy the experience as much as you can.

Sophia Ross ’20

Family studies and community development major from Howard County
Worked with the Department of Housing and Community Development

Sophia Ross poses alongside Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith
Sophia Ross poses with her Governor's Citation alongside Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith. Photo provided by the Executive Office of the Governor

What kind of projects did you work on during the summer?

One of my major projects involved developing a digital map template to tell the “stories” of the projects the Division of Neighborhood Revitalization has funded throughout Maryland. Through this project I was able to learn about the direct impact the division has on communities and was challenged by learning to work with new technology. Another major project I worked on this summer involved assisting communities in the process of obtaining a sustainable community designation, which is required to apply for funding from the Division of Neighborhood Revitalization. This allowed me to directly engage with issues and opportunities for growth in communities, and understand how the division’s programs are applicable to them.

What made you apply to be part of the program?

I wanted to apply for the GSIP because of the unique opportunity to intern in a Maryland government agency. I feel that all levels of the government are involved in generating substantial and permanent impacts in communities. I felt it would be great to see the role of the state government in making these changes, and figure out if I would want to pursue a career in state government. 

Along with the GSIP, Maryland Public Service Scholars program also includes: 

  • The Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program, which has students working full-time at Maryland not for profit organizations.
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation, which introduces students to careers in the state sector within Maryland’s transportation system.
  • The Public Service Law Fellowship: is offered to students attending Maryland’s two law schools, and provide full-time positions in the public service law sector. 

Learn more about applying for the GSIP, or other parts the Maryland Public Service Program. Students can also find more internship opportunities through the Career Center, or through Handshake.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.