Local focus comes to public policy program

Anna Riggenbach

APPLE program provides new opportunities

Election season means increased interest in politics. What many students may not realize, though, is that they have the opportunity year round to experience national, state and now local politics first-hand.

In the past, the political science department has taken students to Washington, D.C. to work at the nation’s capital and to Columbus to work with the Ohio state government. This year, the Applied Public Policy Learning Experience will work locally with the Kent city government. The program is offered to freshmen and sophomores, a first in the government programs on campus. All of the programs are available for students in any major.

Patrick Kerrigan, assistant director to the APPLE program, said he likes giving the opportunity to students.

“Students say it was better than they ever expected,” Kerrigan said. “They absolutely love the program.”

“It’s a rewarding experience on a lot of different levels,” he said. “I am high on the experience. I wish I would have had this experience when I was in college.”

Students also take internships while in the programs. With the upcoming elections, some students may be working for election candidates in their spare time, he said.

Senior economics major Jera Oliver, who went to Columbus in Fall 2005, said she enjoyed getting an individualized experience.

“It gave me a chance to learn about the political workings about the city and the state,” Oliver said. “I had a great time and learned a lot about politics, administration and the policy process.”

The Columbus and Washington, D.C. programs provide juniors and seniors with housing close to the capitals. Students are also given opportunities that would not be given to them while taking classes in Kent.

“Everything about it is first class,” said Vernon Sykes, director of the Columbus Program. “The classroom is the hearing room in the House of Representatives.”

This fall was the first time the program has extended to the local government, which will allow the students to work in Kent. Kerrigan said this was the next step for the program.

“It was the logical thing to do,” he said. “The APPLE program is targeting different students.”

The APPLE program is being offered to freshman and sophomores as a two-year experience. Participants will still take required courses such as English and freshman orientation.

“The APPLE program is designed to complement the national and state programs,” Kerrigan said. “We are concentrating this semester on the Kent city government.”

Students in the APPLE program are provided with the opportunities to shadow someone who works with the government and attend briefings, he said. Students may report directly to department heads on a daily basis.

With the program now working with the local government, students are filling in a void, Kerrigan said.

“The program wasn’t paying enough attention to the local government,” Kerrigan said. “We were also ignoring freshmen and sophomores.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Anna Riggenbach at [email protected].