Political Science Student Benefits From Working Alongside USD Alumni in State Legislature
For the duration of the 2024 legislative session, Hart, a sophomore majoring in political science and legal studies, is interning for the speaker pro tempore of the house, Rep. Mike Stevens ’78, and is the intern in charge of the House Education and House Judiciary Committees.
Hart’s duties include coordinating all remote and written testimony for bills in both her committees, researching for bill drafting, reading and annotating upcoming bills, writing articles for her legislator and meeting different people from organizations that visit the capitol.
“I have loved interning in Pierre, and I cannot speak highly enough of my experience so far,” said Hart, who’s from Mitchell, South Dakota. “I have already met so many amazing people who have a direct role in the operations of our state. I have been able to not only observe the entire legislative process, but I have been able to be a part of it.”
Through her internship, Hart has had the opportunity to work alongside many of the state’s most prominent figures, including South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Steven R. Jensen '88, J.D., Attorney General Marty Jackley '95, J.D., and several other USD alumni.
“There are far too many USD alumni to even name, but I can tell you that being a part of the ‘Yote’ community is such a valuable asset, especially being in a new environment such as the legislature,” said Hart. “If you took a poll of all the lawyers involved in our legislature, I would estimate that almost 90% of them went to USD for their undergraduate degrees or for law school.
“The presence of USD alumni is strong in our legislature, and it is exciting to be a part of the community that is making a difference in our state,” Hart continued.
An Honors student, Hart said her experiences at USD have well equipped her with the necessary skills to succeed in her internship position with the South Dakota Legislature.
“Specifically, my experience in Sarah Wittmuss’s class, Courts and Judicial Politics, gave me the opportunity to learn about and discuss the same issues that are being discussed by the chief justice and the attorney general in the legislature,” said Hart. “Overall, my experience at USD and in the Department of Political Science has helped me to learn how to think critically about the issues and bills that are presented every day.”
Hart is pursuing a legal career and plans to attend law school after earning her undergraduate degree. This internship is a critical step in helping her get there.
“I have found my experience in drafting and researching bills to be very helpful, as I am reading South Dakota’s Codified Laws every day,” Hart said. “Since I am a part of the judiciary committee, I also get to listen to the debate about proposed and existing laws, most often pertaining to criminal statutes.”