July 8, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Political Science Majors Participate in Elite Summer Leadership Program


Reiya Bhat

Reiya Bhat

Anna Lippincott

Anna Lippincott

By Angela Woodward
From Compass

Two Ohio University students were selected for an elite national summer leadership program designed to address the underrepresentation of women in American politics, seizing an opportunity to further their educations while taking a significant step toward becoming future global leaders.

Sophomore Reiya Bhat and senior Anna Lippincott were two of only 30 college women accepted into this year’s NEW Leadership Ohio program, administered by Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. A national, bipartisan program, the five-day residential summer institute, held May 18-22 on OSU’s Columbus campus, educates college women about the important role that politics plays in their lives and encourages them to become effective leaders in the political arena.

Bhat is a Political Science major in OHIO’s Honors Tutorial College while Lippincott is double majoring in journalism (news and information) and political science with a minor in Spanish. Both were encouraged to apply for the NEW Leadership Ohio program by DeLysa Burnier, Professor of Political Science in OHIO’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“My adviser, DeLysa Burnier, has been one of the most influential and incredible professors at OHIO,” said Lippincott. “She was on sabbatical last semester, but we kept in touch, and she recommended I apply for it.”

Bhat, who was the youngest woman accepted into NEW Leadership Ohio, had a similar experience, explaining that she was studying abroad in Mexico last semester when she received an e-mail from Burnier encouraging her to apply for the program.

“I looked into it, and I’m very interested in both politics and the empowerment of women, so I knew this program would be a good opportunity,” said Bhat, the daughter of Shiv and Christine Suniti Bhat, an associate professor and program coordinator for counselor education at OHIO’s Patton College of Education.

The NEW Leadership Ohio program educated participants on the history of women’s involvement in public life; honed the women’s leadership skills in public speaking, advocacy and diversity; and provided a forum for the women to form a network with their peers as well as current women leaders.

“(The program’s) goal is to encourage women to run for office and integrate public service into our professional career paths, whether that be a school board position or a full-time job in policy research,” explained Lippincott.

A native of Akron, Lippincott serves as the president of OHIO’s College Republicans; a columnist for The New Political, an online multimedia publication for OHIO students and the Athens community; public relations chair for the Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity; and regional director of the Ohio College Republican Federation. She noted that the NEW Leadership program opened her eyes to the plethora of positions available in public service.

“Many people only know the one-sided elected official positions, but government is much more complex,” she said. “There is potential for policy research, lobbying, consulting and so much more.”

“NEW Leadership Ohio was a nonpartisan event, which was really interesting because I feel like for many people who are interested in politics it often becomes more about which party they belong to,” said Bhat. “This program offered a very wide variety of speakers with a wide variety of interests.”

“It was great to speak to women from all different fields and learn about their careers, how they got there, and what they’ve learned in the professional world,” Lippincott said.

Bhat noted how much she enjoyed hearing from the program’s speakers, all most all of whom were women, many with connections to Ohio. Among her favorites were Nina Turner, a former Cleveland city councilwoman and state senator who most recently ran for Ohio’s Secretary of State, and Nancy Bocskor, a professor at George Washington University’s School of Political Management who spoke about networking and fundraising.

“The entire program gave me a much wider perspective to build upon what I’m learning inside the classroom,” Bhat explained.

“We had different city council members, state senators and representatives, and lobbyists come to speak to us. … I’ve learned how important politics, particularly on the local level, is. Generally, when people think of running for public office, they usually aim for running for representative or even senator, but local politics really does matter and can affect real change for people.”

“To anyone who thinks government is stupid or doesn’t matter: It does matter,” added Lippincott. “Government literally affects every aspect of your life, from the food you eat, to the roads you drive on, to how much money from your paycheck you get to keep.”

For Bhat, her experiences at NEW Leadership Ohio also reinforce many of the activities she’s involved in outside of OHIO’s classrooms. In addition to her involvement with OHIO’s Spanish Club, the Hispanic and Latino Student Union, Generation Action, and Rotaract, Bhat is active in OHIO’s Feminist Equality Movement (FEM), a student organization that advocates for gender equality on campus.

“That’s one of the primary reasons I was interested in NEW Leadership Ohio,” Bhat explained, “because it’s all about the empowerment of women and promoting equality for women in education, in the workforce and in everyday life.”

In June, Bhat participated in the Gloria Steinem Membership Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference was sponsored by Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), an affiliate of FEM. The conference was dedicated to advocating for women’s reproductive rights and included a day on Capitol Hill.

“I think the main thing I took away from the NEW Leadership Ohio experience is the empowering feeling of being surrounded by so many other female students and women who are high achieving but also very dedicated to the idea of supporting other women,” Bhat said. “It was great, and being immersed in that idea and culture for a full week was really rewarding for me.”

NEW Leadership Ohio is administered by the John Glenn College of Public Affairs with support from OSU’s Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, the Moritz Program on Law and Leadership, OSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

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