Citizens University: It’s not Political Science!

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I hated political science when I was in high school, and I hated it even more in college. As a student at Texas A&M, I was so bored by the subject that calculus seemed absolutely thrilling by comparison.  Then, four years ago, that all changed.  

As an intern for the City of College Station’s Public Communications Office, I was asked to take photos of Citizens University. At first, I thought it was nothing more than a simplified political science class, but I soon discovered it was much more. It was actually interesting. In fact, it was so interesting that I couldn’t wait to take the course myself.

The free, 10-week course focuses on city departments, budgets, services and activities, along with the roles and responsibilities of city staff and elected officials. That might not seem so interesting on paper, but when you get to actually meet the people involved and see them in action, you get an entirely different perspective. Each department sets up an activity and presentation that best represents the service they provide. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and give feedback to department directors, staff and city council members.

Wouldn’t you like to meet those who keep your lights on, your streets clean and your neighborhoods safe? How about the mayor and city council?

Through Citizens University, I learned some of the reasons why College Station is such a great place to live. I was so intrigued that I also completed the Citizens Fire Academy, then the Citizens Police Academy to build my resume. Having such unique opportunities to see how the city runs — and meet those behind it – not only gave me a tremendous sense of security about living here, it helped advance my career in local government.

Some of the program’s graduates have gone on to serve on various city boards and committees, and several have even been elected to the city council.  Citizens University is the perfect way to build your resume, gain experience and expand your local government knowledge. And it’s free. The only requirements are that you must be at least 21 years old, a resident and registered voter in College Station, and willing to commit to attending all 10 sessions. You can’t be a political candidate during the course, either.

If you are skeptical about the program, I certainly don’t blame you– I’ve been there. But if you give it a chance, I’m confident you’ll benefit from the course as much as I did. The application deadline has been extended to Friday, Jan. 6, so you still have time to sign up. Apply online, or email me at llively@cstx.gov if you have any questions. I hope to see you at the first session on Jan. 23!

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