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April 27, 2012

After participating in BSU's new Shadow a Legislator Program, where she trailed a legislator at the Massachusetts Statehouse for a day, [b]Lorrie Jenkins[/b], '13, returned to campus ready to break into politics. 

"I didn't have a big interest in politics before," said Ms. Jenkins. "That whole day changed my career path."

Ms. Jenkins of Foxborough has now declared a political science minor and acquired an internship with her local state representative, Jay Barrows. Beginning May 1, she will be interning with State Sen. Michael Rush (D), who represents the the Suffolk and Norfolk districts.

The one-day program, organized by Career Services, takes students to the Statehouse, where they accompany an official on a tour of the building and learn daily operations of the legislature. The other two student participants were [b]Jonathan Barbour[/b] and [b]Jennifer Ramirez[/b].

Ms. Jenkins shadowed State Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), who opened her eyes to a new side of politics. The two first went to a land and commission meeting for a beach along the Charles River. Then, Ms. Jenkins went on a "Behind the Ropes" tour of the House of Representatives and Senate House.

A defining moment for Ms. Jenkins, who has worked as a special education teaching assistant for years, came during a lunch break, when Sen. Pacheco said his favorite part of the job was helping people receive financial and other assistance.

"When you think of politics you only think of what you see and hear on the TV and the newspaper and you don't see what happens behind the scenes. That was big eye-opener for me," she said.

The experience is part of Career Services' Job Shadow Program, where students during winter break accompany employees of various companies and organizations for one day to explore careers and network with professionals. There were 46 participants this year, the largest group thus far.

[b]Carol Crosby[/b], assistant director of Career Services, said many students who participate in the shadow program have earned internships and jobs and built professional networks. "For many students who participate -- like Lorrie -- the opportunity to shadow a professional resonates beyond that one day experience," she said.

Ms. Jenkins said working for Rep. Barrows, who has helped people get health care and sought more assistance for people with disabilities, has showed her the positive influence politics can have in communities.

"I never thought of that side of politics and I think that's really appealed to me," said Ms. Jenkins.

A five-year Navy veteran married to a 22-year veteran, Ms. Jenkins said her future work with Sen. Rush, which entails helping gather benefit packets for vets and other tasks, hits close to home. 

"I've wanted to help people, but I didn't know how," she said. "Working with Senator Rush will give me a chance to actually apply those things I care about."

Ms. Jenkins talked about her experiences during a panel discussion held as part of BSU's Experiential Learning Expo, where students present on their internship, job shadowing and other experiences.

[b]Sasha Link[/b], coordinator of government relations, was integral in organizing the program and setting Ms. Jenkins up with Sen. Rush. "Sasha truly has become my mentor," said Ms. Jenkins.

Ms. Jenkins said she believes she has a future in politics, but not as an elected official. 

"As in running [for office]? No," she said, laughing. "As in helping out behind the scenes, yes." (Rob Matheson, '07, University Advancement)

Lorrie Jenkins (right) with Carol Crosby before the Experiential Learning Expo panel discussion