BHSU students learn first-hand during internship at State Capitol

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, March 10, 2015/Categories: 2015









           John Jones III, political science major from Spearfish, left, is interning for the South Dakota Speaker of the House, Dean Wink. The two are pictured standing next to Wink&rsquos desk on the House floor in the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre.




It&rsquos not the typical classroom, but the State Capitol is providing a learning experience for two Black Hills State University students.   

John Jones III and Katherine Holm are interning at the State Capitol in Pierre this semester, learning the bill-making process and other state government roles.   

"I was ecstatic for the opportunity, but very nervous about being able to do a good job and representing BHSU," said Jones, a political science major from Spearfish. "I just took a deep breath and tried to serve the people I was assigned to the best each day."

Jones works directly for the South Dakota Speaker of the House Dean Wink and Speaker Pro Temp, Mark Mickelson.

"Just being in their presence and watching them conduct business with transparency and integrity makes me want to be a better person," Jones said. "I&rsquom learning that life is about showing up every day, doing your best for others, getting some sleep and doing it again."

Jones starts his day at 7:30 a.m. After settling in, he asks Wink and Mickelson what needs to be done for the day.

"I do everything from researching, helping circulate bills, writing commemorations, and yes &ndash going to grocery store from time to time," Jones said.

Jones said working directly with Wink and Mickelson has its perks. One includes sitting at Wink&rsquos desk on the House floor during session.

"I get to experience firsthand the process and have a great perspective to watch floor debate," Jones said.

Holm, a political science major from Houston, Texas, completes many of the same duties as Jones, with the Senate Assistant Minority Leader Troy Heinert and Sen. Jim Bradford. Holm&rsquos workday is hectic, but said she enjoys every aspect of the internship.

"It&rsquos one thing to read in a book about the way the government works, but it&rsquos entirely different to be there and experience it first-hand," Holm said. "Watching the senators work and watching the bills pass or fail on the floor puts into perspective words and concepts I&rsquove only read about in government class."

After graduating from BHSU, both Jones and Holm aspire to become lawyers.  

"I had always been interested in government, but had no interest in being a politician," Holm said. "After speaking with BHSU professors, I realized there was so much more I could do with a political science degree."

For Jones, it was a personal experience that brought him to BHSU at 32-years-old to pursue a degree.

Jones credits BHSU in preparing him for the internship and his future aspirations.

"Without a doubt BHSU&rsquos curriculum has prepared me well," Jones said. "Beyond being excellent instructors, my teachers care and are brilliant.

"Coming back to school was one of the most exciting things I have ever done," Jones said. "It did feel foreign to strap on a backpack after 14 years, but nonetheless it&rsquos so fun to sit in class again. I&rsquom highly motivated to achieve my career objectives. I look at each day as one day closer to these goals."

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