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March 26, 2013

Students Learn Local Politics with Massachusetts State Rep. Paul Brodeur ’86

“Before this experience, I had written off the idea of holding a governmental office because I thought it was unattainable.  This externship showed me that becoming a part of the government is a realistic and attainable goal.  Representative Brodeur showed me that ordinary people can hold offices and often do the best job at it, too,” says Jenna Gowell ’16 (Amherst, N.H.), an international affairs major.

Jenna Gowell ’16 and Paul Brodeur ’86 talk in a hallway at the Massachusetts State House

Jenna Gowell ’16 and Paul Brodeur ’86 at the Massachusetts State House

Over winter break, Gowell and government and law major Scott Gelbman ’13 (Pleasantville, N.Y.) served as externs with Massachusetts State Representative Paul Brodeur ’86 at his Boston office.

The students sat in on meetings with Brodeur as he participated in conversations and listened to constituents’ concerns.  They also observed his work in his office at the State House, which included gathering information for crafting and signing bills and meeting with various representatives and constituents.

Gelbman was present for the beginning of the new session in the Massachusetts State Legislature.

“I was able to get a tour of the State House, which was so beautiful and historical,” he says. “I had never been to Boston before so it was really an amazing experience.”

Gowell, who hopes to work in military intelligence, learned a lot through her experience.

“It was wonderful to spend time with Representative Brodeur, as he was a personable, friendly, and intelligent man who went out of his way to make me feel comfortable in such an intimidating environment,” she says. “He made this externship a stellar experience for me, and I learned so much through our conversations.”

This is the second year that Brodeur has participated in Career Services’ externship program.

Scott Gelbman ’13 and Paul Brodeur ’86 speak by a stained glass window at the Massachusetts State House.

Scott Gelbman ’13 and Paul Brodeur ’86 speak at the Massachusetts State House.

“As an elected official, I have a pretty unique job, and it allows me to give students a broad exposure to politics and public policy,” he say. “Any time a student can get hands-on exposure to possible careers, they should take full advantage of it.”

Gelbman has had a number of important political experiences while at Lafayette.  He attended the Democratic National Convention through his summer internship and worked on the Obama campaign. He also interned with Pennsylvania State Representative Robert Freeman from Easton. Gelbman plans to move back to Washington, D.C., after he graduates and engage in the political world.

“I learned a lot from Paul, but especially the fact that being a hands-on and genuine politician is very important,” says Gelbman. “Paul and Robert have shown me how much a local state representative can help their constituents, and that is the point of a democratic government, to help your constituents solve their problems.”

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