August 5, 2014

McCarthy Center Student Coordinator Justin Markon on his summer experience at Citizens League

The Citizens League


For the last several years, the Citizens League has been fortunate enough to host a Brandl Scholar from the Eugene J. McCarthy Center at St. John’s University over the summer. The interns we’ve had from this program are bright and enthusiastic, and quickly become key contributors to our work at the League. This year’s intern, Justin Markon, was absolutely no exception. He stepped in with great initiative and became a valued member of the staff. Our thanks to him and the Eugene J. McCarthy Center at St. John’s for this ongoing partnership. The following are some parting words from Justin as he prepares for his final year at St. John’s.

Working with the Citizens League this summer has been a valuable experience. The League itself is a unique organization, as I’ve heard staff explain on numerous occasions. When I began my internship, words like “organizing agency” and “civic policy making” were difficult to grasp, and I know for all staff their meanings continue to evolve. I tried to jump right in and learn as much about the League’s work, including the electrical energy project, which has been extremely rewarding. My biggest takeaway from this summer has been learning about civic policy making and why the Citizens League is relevant today as much as ever. Unfortunately, our political system these days is not operating at its best. Speakers at seminars or discussions call for change to the current system, but do so without suggesting meaningful resolutions that truly help all parties. The Citizens League, over its 62 years, has crafted real solutions. Over that time, not every policy won unanimous support, but the staff and members choose issues they see as making Minnesota a better place. These are lessons I will take no matter where life takes me.
In three weeks, I will start my final year at St. John’s University on Minnesota’s prairie. I am very excited to take a class on local and regional politics, where I am sure I will use knowledge from this summer. Additionally, this year I will complete my senior thesis. I plan to write on the political differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin that have cropped up in the past decade. Undoubtedly, work by the Citizens League will serve as background for comparing polices. After graduation in May I will seek gainful employment, like most college graduates. Right now, I’m not sure what sector or policy area I will jump in first, but I am excited to see what is over the horizon.
Finally, I am excited for the future of the Citizens League. I am thankful to the Eugene J. McCarthy Center at St. John’s for giving me this opportunity to learn from and work with the Citizens League. As one of those citizens, I hope to stay involved and watch the continued success. Thank you to all the staff, members and supporters for making this a meaningful summer. The Citizens League is an important institution in Minnesota that will continue to serve the people and create “common ground for the common good.”