TAMPA – Four high school students from Hillsborough County will be recognized by the Board of County Commissioners for their participation in the first-ever Hillsborough County Local Government High School Internship Program.
The students will be presented Certificates of Commendation on Wednesday at 9 a.m. during the BOCC’s meeting at the County Center in downtown Tampa.
Created and sponsored by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s office, the program is the brainchild of HCPA Director of Community Relations, Nereia Cormier. A former American Government teacher at Plant High School, Cormier wanted to provide an opportunity for students from both public and private high schools to spend part of their summer at the County Center to learn more about how government functions at the local level.
“In the curriculum for both American Government and Advance Placement Government and Politics, the emphasis is on understanding the background and procedures of government at the federal level,” Cormier stated. “I’ve always felt there was a lack of focus on government at the local and state levels. This program is a way to help aspiring political science and government majors get a better understanding of some of the most important aspects of our government’s framework.”
From a competitive field of more than 30 applicants, the four students accepted into the six-week program were King High senior Akash Bhatia and junior Jessica Rosbach, Tampa Prep senior Aubrey Burns and Middleton senior Ervin Harris.
On their first day in the program, the students received a local government overview from Dr. Scott Paine, Associate Professor of Government/International Affairs at the University of Tampa. They spent the next two weeks touring various county agencies, participating in a focus group at the county’s tax collector’s office, were recognized by Councilman Charlie Miranda at a Tampa City Council meeting and met with elected officials and community government leaders. Those leaders included Assistant Superintendent of Schools Gwen Luney and Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank.
As a requirement of the program, each student was required to independently create and complete a high-level project pertaining to some aspect of local government management. Bhatia wrote the script and helped film a TRIM notice informational video that will be posted on the HCPA’s Web site. Burns branded the program by creating a logo, flyers, brochure and a Web site. Harris coordinated an event at his church to give his congregation and surrounding neighborhoods the opportunity to meet the Property Appraiser, Bob Henriquez.
Rosbach organized a bake sale in the County Center which raised more than $800 for U.S. Special Operations Command’s Care Coalition. In recognition of Rosbach’s efforts, USSOCOM is sending a representative to attend the BOCC ceremony honoring the students.
As the four students return to their respective schools with a greater understanding of local government, Henriquez said he was proud his office launched the internship program for high school students.
“These four extraordinary young men and women not only gained more knowledge of their community’s government, they also touched many lives along the way,” Henriquez said. “It was an honor for our office to be a part of that.”