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TJC opens Center for Local Government Studies, creates internship program

The TJC Department of Government and Economics has created a new Center for Local Government Studies and an internship to educate the next generation of public policy makers and administrators.

The new programs were introduced during a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 17, which was also TJC’s 95th Founders Day and the 234th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution.

The ceremony was emceed by Verica Elliott, TJC government professor. TJC faculty and staff members were in attendance, along with representatives from area local government entities.

“Our department chose this day to reaffirm our belief and commitment to a framework of partnership to building a stronger East Texas and leading the way for our great state and country,” Elliott said. 

“The mission of our center is to inspire student success while supporting East Texas local government agencies; and our goal is to partner with local governments, government agencies and stakeholders to provide research and practical internship opportunities in local government for students of Tyler Junior College; to engage in institution-supported research and provide data-driven insight; and to arrange collaborative efforts and opportunities for local officials, business leaders, faculty, students and other interested parties.”

TJC Govt Studies intern

Verica Elliott, TJC government professor, introduces TJC student Taylor Vandergriff, who is currently serving as an intern with the City of Whitehouse.

Through TJC’s Government 2389 course, students can participate in a semester-long internship where they gain firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of local government and public policy.

Interns will either be placed in a local agency learning concepts of public administration or with faculty conducting public policy research.

Through agreements with the cities of Whitehouse and Chandler, TJC students can also be assigned to shadow professionals in various city departments, including: 

• City manager/general administration 
• Finance and budget 
• Planning and zoning 
• Organizational development and human resource management 
• Legal counsel and risk management 
• Utilities and public works 

Students placed with faculty will assist faculty with research, conduct research on their own, compile data and write papers related to local government public policy topics such as: 

• Economic development 
• Policing and public safety 
• Smart cities 
• Community development 
• Historic reservation 

“I want to commend our partners in the community,” said Dr. Deana Sheppard, TJC provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. “We sincerely appreciate you, and we cannot operate and do all that we do at the College without you.”

Sheppard continued, “We do not operate in a vacuum, and we know that our students are best served when they are out in the community and practicing what they learn. I’m a big experiential learner and hands-on type of person, so it’s exciting to me that our students in these particular disciplines have the opportunity to go out and actually apply what they’re learning. We thank you for that.”

TJC President Dr. Juan E. Mejia said, “I truly believe that government and political science happen at the local level. It happens here, with the conversations and relationships that are built, and no one in the entire country can parallel what we are able to do in East Texas because of the heart of care that exists in our community.

For more information, contact Geoff Willbanks, TJC government and economics department chair and professor, at 903-510-2768 or email gwil1@tjc.edu.

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