Lauren Connor chosen as first intern | College of Liberal Arts | SIU

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Lauren Connor chosen as first intern

Theater, Political Science

Lauren Connor

(excerpted from The Simon Times)

Lauren V. Connor, a senior from Maywood, Ill., has been awarded the first Alexander Lane Internship by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.

Connor, who is majoring in theater with a minor in political science, will receive a $6,000 stipend to work for the Legislative Black Caucus at the Illinois Legislature in Springfield during the spring semester.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson, chair of the Senate Legislative Black Caucus, congratulated Connor on the award during a visit to the Institute. Connor will work under Hutchinson and other leaders. Her mentor during the program will be Dr. Linda Baker, university professor at the Institute, who works in Springfield during sessions.

Lane is the first black male student to graduate from SIU Carbondale and the internship was created to honor him. He was born a slave in pre-Civil War Mississippi, moved to southern Illinois as a child and used an opportunity for an education to change his life story. After graduating in the late 1800s from what would become SIU Carbondale, he then graduated from Rush Medical School and became a doctor in Chicago.

Later, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where he became one of the first African Americans to serve in that chamber. He is buried in Carbondale.

In her letter of application, Connor said "I have always had the desire to use theater and performance art as a vehicle for social change and justice. I personally feel that both theater and political science are closely related in their attempt to better mankind by empowering people to be the change they want to see in the world."

She said the arts have a positive impact on the educations of children and "one of my career goals is to create an entertainment company that focuses on expanding arts programming for at-risk youth."

"Lane's perseverance in overcoming barriers and achieving his goals serves as an inspiration to today's students," said Lane biographer Pam Smoot, assistant professor at SIU.

For more information about the internship, contact Matt Baughman at (618) 453-4001 or baughman@siu.edu.