April 2, 2018
VSU’s Laura Wilson Experiences Politics Firsthand as Georgia House of Representatives Intern
VALDOSTA — Laura Wilson first fell in love with government in high school when she traveled to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta as a member of the Technology Student Association.
“I served as a state and national officer, and when I was state vice president, I was able to come to the Capitol and really advocate for what I believed in,” said Wilson, who was born and raised in Valdosta and attended Lowndes High School. “I was able to really see how the legislative process works and how lobbying works, and that’s what sparked my interest.”
In January, Wilson, now a senior political science student at Valdosta State University, returned to the Capitol as a Georgia House of Representatives intern for the delegation from Lowndes County. For the entire 2018 Georgia legislative session — Jan. 8 to March 31 — she gained valuable firsthand government experience within the building that has housed Georgia’s political leaders for close to 130 years.
“I’ve learned a lot through being in the classroom and hearing the lectures and reading textbooks, but this internship gives you a more hands-on experience of what it’s really like,” said Wilson, the daughter of Lynne and Jody Wilson. “Of course what I learned in the classroom is important and valuable, but this showed me what it’s actually going to be like working in the field.”
Wilson worked full time at the Capitol, receiving academic credit for the internship while also taking 18 academic hours of online classes through VSU. She mainly assisted Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) by reaching out to lobbyists, coordinating meetings, and attending to daily office needs. She attended several committees meetings with Shaw on issues related to transportation; insurance; and game, fish, and wildlife. She also assisted with the operations of the Rural Caucus, which focuses on issues that affect rural Georgians.
“My favorite thing has come from just being around the Capitol,” she said. “I heard someone say that they teach you about the Judicial Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Legislative Branch, but they don’t teach you about the lobbying branch. That’s very true. I’ve been able to learn how crucial lobbying really is and how governmental affairs really play out. That is what I want to do career-wise, so it’s been interesting to see it all firsthand.”
Wilson expects to graduate in Fall 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and plans to pursue a career as a government lobbyist, specifically in the areas of agriculture and education.
“I’ve always gravitated toward education,” she said. “Through my involvement with student organizations, I’ve seen how important education is. Through my internship, I’ve also realized that I am very interested in agriculture. I see its importance, and I think that’s part of being from rural Georgia. I want to make sure these two areas are getting the proper funding.
“I like politics because I like knowing that I’m making a difference and that I can voice my opinion. I like being a part of the process and seeing how it all works. A lot of people don’t understand how it works, and I want to share my knowledge with others and show them how to be involved in government effectively.”
Before graduating, Wilson plans to study abroad in the Czech Republic with VSU’s Center for International Programs and intern in the Washington, D.C., office of David Perdue, a United States senator from Georgia.
Wilson is active with Phi Mu’s Kappa Beta Chapter. She currently serves as its community service chairwoman and conducts extensive philanthropic work at the local, state, and national level. Her service includes assisting with Phi Mu’s annual cookout to raise funds for VSU’s Elizabeth Joy Lohmar Scholarship Fund for Mathematics in memory of Lizzie Lohmar, a member of Phi Mu and VSU student who died in 2014; several fundraisers for the Children’s Miracle Network, such as the annual Phi Mu Golf Tournament: For The Kids; the Valdosta-Lowndes County Special Olympics; and Night to Shine with the Tim Tebow Foundation, an international event that offers a special prom experience to those with special needs.