January 23, 2017

Travis Washington named Alexander Lane Intern

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Travis Washington of Chicago has been named the 2017 Alexander Lane Intern by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Washington will work with members of the Illinois General Assembly during the spring 2017 session. 

The internship provides selected students an opportunity to be an active participant in the state’s legislative process. Washington will be assigned to House Democratic legislative staff and acquire new skills and gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative and political processes. The experience and knowledge received during the General Assembly legislative session can be an enriching experience for students and lead to exciting future opportunities. 

Washington is a senior majoring in speech communication and Africana studies at SIU Carbondale.  He was a recipient of the High Achievers honor in 2016 and is active in campus organizations, including serving as president of the university’s College Democrats and senator of the Black Affairs Council. 

Linda Baker, university professor at the institute and former secretary of the Department of Human Services and director of the Department of Employment Security, as well as the first African-American legislative liaison for an Illinois governor, mentors students working through the Alexander Lane Internship during their stay in Springfield. 

“The Alexander Lane Internship is a wonderful way for the university to both honor Lane’s achievements and honor his spirit, opening doors to deserving students and giving them an opportunity to get valuable hands-on experience.  I think Travis will find this experience rewarding and an excellent beginning to his postgraduate career,” Baker said. 

The institute established the Alexander Lane Internship program in 2011 to honor Lane, the first African-American male graduate at the institution that would become SIU Carbondale. The paid internship allows at least one student each spring to work with a minority member of the General Assembly toward the goal of carrying on Lane’s legacy of high achievement and public service. Lane rose from meager beginnings in pre-Civil War Mississippi to become a school principal, physician, and an Illinois state legislator, serving in the General Assembly in 1906 and 1908. He died in 1911 in Chicago, and is buried in Carbondale. 

Lane’s biographer, Pamela Smoot, coordinator of the Office of Recruitment, Retention & Outreach in the College of Liberal Arts, noted the value of Lane’s example for today’s students. 

“Lane’s perseverance in overcoming barriers and achieving his goals serves as an inspiration to today’s students,” she said.  

Private donations from individuals and corporations fund the Alexander Lane Internship program. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at http://paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu/contribute/index.php or sent to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Mail Code 4429, 1231 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, Ill., 62901.