SGA Intern Program gives hands-on experience for all interests, provides voice on campus

(Photo courtesy of Ashley Grills)

The Student Governing Association offers an intern program designed to educate the campus on SGA and its processes. Made up of two phases, the first is open to all and includes five individual classes. There are three different sessions of Phase I that occur throughout the year.

Ashley Grills, junior in human resources, said being a student government intern allows students to dive into various passions on campus.

Grills is the co-director of the SGA intern program alongside Michael Arnold, junior in mechanical engineering. Grills said the program gives students a chance to advocate for themselves and their peers.

“A lot of interns are hands-on in the different committees: there is government relations, mental health, environment and budget committees,” Grills said. “A lot of the interns apply to be at-large committee members where they can be voting members of that committee. One of our committees allocates around $16 million, so having a say in that can be so important.”

Students who are interested in being student government leaders and getting involved should look into the intern program, Grills said.

“There are so many leadership opportunities, and this really does set you up to be a leader on campus,” Grills said. “It won’t guarantee anything, but it is very helpful.”

Michael Dowd, student body president and senior in animal sciences and industry, was an intern his freshman year.

Students are not required to be interested in strictly student government, Grills said. The intern program has a place for people with many interests.

“Everybody can join no matter what their interests and passions are — we deal with everything from mental health to food insecurity to budgeting,” Grills said. “I think there is a space for everyone, and it is a great way to get hands-on involvement and make good friends.”

To begin the process, any student can attend Phase I meetings — a five-week program starting at 5:45 p.m. Oct. 14 in the K-State Student Union Wildcat Chamber.

“Coming up is the second class for interns this school year — students who attend will learn the same things taught in the first round of class,” Grills said. “These are power points that introduce student government.”

In Phase II, interns participate in hands-on government activities.

“In Phase II, students get to actually do everything we have been talking about,” Grills said. “There is senate every week, so we will do a mock senate or a mock hearing so they can practice.”

Recent graduates of Phase I — Michael Johnson, freshman in marketing, and Arya Sinha, freshman in business administration — said they are excited to experience the hands-on aspect of Phase II.

“Now we have the opportunity to speak at senate meetings and pass motions, which I am eager to participate in,” Sinha said. “I am also excited to see how elections work and what the process is.”

Johnson said he is now an at-large member of the Government Relations Committee.

“We handle the relationships between anywhere from legislature in Topeka and with the community in Manhattan,” Johnson said.

Grills said the freshman class of interns this semester is a big group of students with a lot of potential.

“We just swore in 31 interns, which is incredible because we had about 35 people ever show up to a meeting, so that is a really high retention rate,” Grills said. “Every single one of them has a ridiculous amount of potential. They all have such a drive to help students. They blew me away.”

Johnson said the program is a great way for all students to get involved on campus.

“If you are new and are looking for a way to make an impact, the SGA Intern Program is a fantastic way to get involved,” Johnson said. “After being sworn in, you have speaking rights at senate meetings, so you really have a lot of say in what goes on, and you have power. You can really make a difference.”