Today@Sam Article

Bearkat Internships: Ashlyn Parker

Aug. 1, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

Bearkat Internships is a Today@Sam series that features select SHSU students who participated in recent internships. If you (or a Bearkat you know) would like their internship considered, fill out this form

Sam Houston State University senior Ashlyn Parker has spent her year exploring multiple facets of government. The public health major, who participated in the Sam Houston Austin Internship Program (SHAIP) from January to May, now finds herself in our nation’s capital with The Normandy Group, a government relations firm.

Parker intern rotunda pic“I started out the year working in the state legislature, so it’s cool to now be on the federal level while also seeing the lobbying side of it,” Parker said. “It has definitely made me consider a career as a lobbyist. I would like to eventually work on Capitol Hill or maybe go into law school. It has given me a lot of different perspectives on how the world works.”

Parker is the first SHSU student, and first student in the Texas State University System (TSUS), to intern at the firm. Normandy lobbies for the best interests of TSUS, one of their biggest clients. 

“They were looking forward to having someone from the system to give that viewpoint,” Parker said. “I get to sit in a lot of meetings with CEOs, politicians and upper-level individuals who I would never have gotten to meet otherwise.”

Much of her work has been spent in agriculture-related areas with clients such as Taylor Farms and USA Rice. Being a public health major, Parker has aspirations of going into health law or policy but has developed a strong interest in politics through her experiences.

“I have focused on public health academically and politics as an extracurricular study to give me those differing perspectives,” Parker said. “I worked closely with John Goldberg, who worked on the House Ag Committee for over 20 years and has been a great mentor to me.”

During her stint in the SHAIP program earlier this year, she worked as a legislative aid to Texas Representative J.M. Lozano. The Austin internship is available to SHSU students of all majors and places participants in various legislative offices to work full time during the five-month session. Accepted students earn academic credit for their work and gain real world experience in an array of areas.

“I wore many hats in Austin, too,” Parker said. “I was a scheduler and legislative correspondent as well as a friendly face for visitors.”

Parker intern extra picParker acknowledged the impact SHSU has had in setting her up for success, particularly the Center for Law, Engagement And Politics (LEAP). 

“I attribute everything to the LEAP Center at Sam along with the director and my mentor, Mike Yawn,” Parker said. “He is the one who has pushed me in this direction and provided me with opportunities. He has invited me to a lot of professional events where I got to gain experience and learn how to interact in the real world.”

The LEAP Center coordinates the Austin Internship Program, oversees internships with the political science department and the City Fellows program. It also offers many other program opportunities, including the “LEAP Leads” Program.

She also singled out SHSU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (OSRP) and Associate Provost Chad Hargrave for landing her the opportunity.

While Parker feels fortunate to have a career trajectory in mind as her senior year at SHSU looms, she remains open to any professional possibilities that present themselves.

“I would love to go into health law and maybe become a public health attorney but, to be honest, I’m taking opportunities as they come and seeing where they lead me,” Parker said.

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