Shippensburg University senior of public administration Dan Smedley is working for Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging in a 15-week internship sponsored by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
The Harrisburg Internship Semester (THIS) program invites students from all 14 PASSHE schools to participate, and gives them the opportunity to work in state government while earning a full semester’s worth of credits.
“It is a 15-credit internship program where you work full time and have a class one night a week. It also is a prime opportunity to work in the field I have been studying and put theory into practice,” Smedley said.
“It has complemented me as a person in many ways. I have always had great pride in being a Pennsylvanian. I love this state and now in addition to being a solider in the Pennsylvania National Guard, I get to serve my state in a different capacity, by helping the generations of Pennsylvanian’s before me.”
Those generations before him are the seniors in Pennsylvania who benefit from the Department of Aging’s services. Smedley has always been interested in how the state is going to handle its increasing elderly population, as Pennsylvania is among the top five most elderly states in the nation population-wise. Because of his interest, Smedley was placed in the Department of Aging by request.
He works in the office of the governor-appointed secretary, who is currently Brian Duke. Smedley performs research and briefings in support of the secretary. He also gets to attend various meetings and seminars around Harrisburg, which give him the ability to learn and network with professionals.
Smedley has gotten to see how inter-governmental relations work between the Department of Aging and the Department of Public Welfare and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). He has gotten some in-depth understanding of the Department of Aging’s current undertaking concerning reaching out to the elderly in rural parts of the state where the issues of transportation, health care and emergency response are very important.
Along with the work at the Department of Aging, Smedley will be expected to attend several academic seminars as well as complete an individualized research project.
“The research project is the capstone project to the internship. I have decided to do mine on Alzheimer’s. Recently, the governor made it a priority in an executive order that the Department of Aging form a state plan to research the disease and find methods to improve care for the Commonwealth. We are currently in the process of the state plan, which my research will be in support of,” Smedley said.
According to PASSHE, more than 500 students from PASSHE universities have participated in the THIS program since it began in 1989. Interns have worked with dozens of state agencies, as well as in the offices of the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the attorney general.
Amanda Olejarski, professor of public administration at SU, has known Smedley since he was taking introductory courses, and has good things to say about him and the THIS program.
“Dan is dedicated to a future in public service,” Olejarski said. “The THIS program is providing him with an awesome opportunity to refine his skills in a professional environment, to enhance his learning in a seminar course and to be mentored by public administrators — all while looking quite dashing in a suit!”
“I have been very fortunate to have great faculty and advisers in the political science department,” Smedley said. “I was informed about the internship through them, and I am very thankful. It means a lot when you know you have folks looking out for your best interests and your future. Many thanks go out to those great professors.”
PASSHE students interested in participating in THIS in a future semester may obtain information on the program by contacting their individual campus coordinator or their university’s cooperative or internship office. Students can also call the Dixon University Center at 717-720-4089. More information on the program also is available at: www.passhe.edu/this.