May 24, 2010

Student selected for summer leadership institute

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Arielle Thibodeaux hopes to someday shape public policy, and the Southern Illinois University Carbondale student believes her selection as a participant in an elite summer conference could serve as a springboard to do just that.

Each year, 20 or fewer university women get the chance to participate in the NEW Leadership Illinois Summer Institute and Thibodeaux will enter those ranks next month. A collaboration of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois and the Conference of Women Legislators of the Illinois General Assembly, the conference is a weeklong residential program helping participants further develop their leadership and policy skills while enhancing their political knowledge.

Thibodeaux, of East Moline, is a social work major who just completed her junior year at SIUC. She led establishment of a University chapter of Amnesty International and it became a Registered Student Organization in late April.

The daughter of Michelle Summers, Thibodeaux will be at the University of Illinois at Chicago June 6-12 for the institute. The non-partisan event features seminars, workshops and other activities. Participants will also network with one another and with faculty and guest speakers. With an Illinois focus, the young women will learn policy analysis skills and current major policy issues. It all wraps up with a group policy analysis project as participants demonstrate the skills they’ve acquired during a mock legislative hearing.

Thibodeaux said she would like a career that involves policy work, perhaps in a legislative capacity. But she said there aren’t many programs available concentrating on policy and policy development.

“I think this institute will really give me a leg up,” Thibodeaux said.