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MU student receives prestigious fellowship

The Parthenon

Published: Friday, September 7, 2012

Updated: Friday, September 7, 2012 00:09

A Marshall University graduate student will intern with the West Virginia State Legislature for the next academic year.

Jack Baisden was chosen as a McManus Fellow, a position offered to only one graduate student in the state each year.

Beyond being the only student in the state offered the position, Baisden holds a second distinction.

“It’s definitely a great honor to be the first Marshall student ever chosen for this position,” Baisden said. “The individual who will be overseeing me during the fellowship is a Marshall alumni, and he’s very excited to have a Marshall student this year as well.”

The fellowship is named for Beckley, W.Va. native Lewis McManus, who served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1965 to 1976.

The fellowship gives one West Virginia graduate student, planning a life of public service, the chance to work as a legislative intern with the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Mary Beth Beller, Marshall’s faculty sponsor for the program, Baisden will report to fellow Marshall graduate Joe Alitzer, member of the W.Va. House of Delegates Judiciary Committee.

McManus Fellows must be seeking a masters degree in public administration. Baisden fits the description. He is earning a Master of Arts degree in political science with a focus in public administration.

He said he is excited to be the first Marshall student to have this opportunity. Beller said she is excited too. She credits recent growth in the program for helping students like Jack qualify for internships like the McManus Fellowship.

The internship has two parts. This fall, Baisden will travel to the Capital three times a month for interim committee meetings, and meet the people he will work with during the next part of the internship. In the February, he will be in Charleston full-time, conducting research, making presentations, and even drafting bills.

“I’m definitely most excited about learning how the legislative process works from an inside perspective,” Baisden said.

He said his interest is deeper than curiosity about the inner workings of the legislature. He is concerned with more than procedure.

Candidates for the McManus Fellowship need to demonstrate a commitment to public service in West Virginia. Baisden wants to serve the public.

He believes that the knowledge gained in the course of the fellowship will aid him as he pursues a career serving West Virginians.

Baisden said with the new position comes nervousness. Baisden is alien to the legislative environment. “It has not been an area of focus for me in my studies, but I see that as an opportunity,” Baisden said. “I’m hoping the fellowship will really spark my interest in a specific area so that I can tailor my career plans.”

Jack said it was his graduate adviser who brought the McManus Fellowship to his attention. Once he learned of the program he recognized its potential. “I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me,” Baisden said.

Baisden said he knows the internship is demanding. Interns must maintain a 3.0 G.P.A. while the holding title of McManus Fellow. The award is taken away if grades fall below that line.  
With the pressure comes one year’s college tuition and fees paid in full. Baisden said he also gets stipend during the legislative section of the internship.

He collects per diem pay in the interim session. “I do plan to stay in public service. I’ve lived in this region all of my life, and I’d like to stay close by if I can,” he said. “I’m looking forward to representing our university at the Legislature this year.”

Jeremy Brown can be reached at


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