Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Under the Dome" teaches high school students about state government

Over 60 high school students from around the state got an inside look at state government during “Under the Dome” on March 28, 2012. The students started their day at UIS and were later bused to the capitol where they took a tour, learned about the legislative process, and met with lawmakers.

“Under the Dome” is a premier immersion event for high school students interested in government, politics, and public service. The day of activities is designed to highlight careers in state government. UIS alumni, who work at the capitol, and staff, who regularly interact with state lawmakers, lead the tours.

“I learned a lot about how careers actually apply in our government and how I could actually end up there,” said Emma Heckelsmiller, a sophomore from Palatine. “It’s always seemed such a distant thing from my life as a high schooler.”

For many of the students this was their first time learning about state government, other than in the classroom or from the newspaper. It changed their impressions about how the process works and politics in general.

“Politics actually isn’t that boring. When you see all of the stuff going on it’s busy and not as boring as office jobs,” said Sydney Miller, a junior from Pana.

While on the behind the scenes tour, the students got to meet with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, House Minority Leader Rep. Tom Cross, and House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff Tim Mapes, among others.

“A lot of us students, we come down here for field trips,” said Matthew Wilson, a Lake Zurich senior. “We get to see a little bit of it, but this is kind of a more in-depth view of everything.”

For many of the students it made them think about their future career choices and sparked a first time interest in state government.

“It got me thinking,” said Joe Stannard, a junior at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School. “My cousin got his master’s in political science. I think I might look more into it.”

UIS hosts “Under the Dome” to educate students about state government and also let them know about the opportunities available at UIS.

“It’s our mission to teach people about state government and we have the expertise to do that,” said Ed Wojcicki, UIS assistant chancellor for constituent relations. “We use that expertise to bring in high school students and say this is the kind of life you can have if you go into government service.”

UIS has hosted the “Under the Dome” event for the past four years. For more information on the next “Under the Dome” event visit

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