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Future politician values internship experience

By : Gina Pellrine

Jillian Mark

Political science major Jillian Mark has her eyes set on a future in politics, with a career in criminal law along the way, she said.

During her time at Binghamton, the senior from New York City has been office manager and intern team leader at Neighborhood Network, the democratic headquarters office in Binghamton, interned for Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and presented a thesis on health care.

Mark presented the thesis, titled “Grandma vs. the Bum: Do Cues About Beneficiaries Influence Support for Government-Provided Health Care?” in January at the Southern Political Science Association annual meeting and in April at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting.

Research for the thesis came from a survey distributed to nearly 500 students at the University. It consisted of 30 health-care scenarios and was used to see what people think makes someone qualified to receive government health care.

Age, gender, employment status and nature of illness varied among the scenarios. Mark offered this example: “Bob is 32 and he fell off his bike. He can’t work at his part-time job now; he broke both legs. He can’t afford Medicare. Should the government help him?”

Mark, 22, said that with the presidential election coming up she feels a lot more people are paying attention to the issue of health care. She believes it’s vital because the number of uninsured people has more than doubled since the early 1980s.

“I do know that for people our age who are graduating, health care can be a big issue,” Mark said. “If you don’t have a job that offers benefits, or if you’re not continuing your education, you don’t have health care.”

Jennifer Jensen, associate dean of Harper College and a former political science professor of Mark’s, worked with Mark and attended the conferences with her.

“Jill is, in a word, terrific,” Jensen said. “She has a level of maturity and self-confidence that is unusual among undergraduates, yet she has an easy nature that does not reflect any arrogance. She is a self-starter.”

Mark’s internships — through the Political Science Department — at Neighborhood Network and Lupardo’s office have given her a taste of the world of politics that she aspires to join.

“If you’re political at all, it’s fun to get involved,” said Mark, who felt she experienced the heart of campaigning during her time at Neighborhood Network.

“Campaigns are messy,” Mark said.

From April to November 2006, Mark organized rallies, helped get political candidates to visit the University and drove senior citizens to local election polls. She also managed interns for Eliot Spitzer’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns and met both politicians.

Mark’s time with Neighborhood Network left her impressed by Binghamton’s involvement in politics.

“Local politics are really important here,” Mark said. “I come from a big city. There’s no such thing as local politics. Here, you vote for someone and that determines if your road gets paved or your electric bill goes up.”

Mark continued to pursue her interest in politics by working from January to May 2007 with Lupardo. Mark spent time researching bills that Lupardo wanted to support or thought could get passed. During Mark’s internship, Lupardo worked on a bill to get money to help Greater Binghamton residents whose homes were damaged in the 2006 floods.

“This so clearly had an impact on people’s lives,” Mark said. “People were able to get money back to fix their houses so they could live. It was really great to be a part of that.”
Mark was impressed by the community and by residents’ relationships with the assemblywoman.

“I would love to have her job when I grow up,” Mark said. “The people of Binghamton love her. She’s all over the place; she has such an impact.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08