Lake grad takes on Ohio politics with Columbus internshipWritten by Emily Gibb | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Lake High School graduate and The Ohio State University Sophomore Evan Matheney started his new internship, he was meeting with Gov. John Kasich’s JobsOhio committee — before the committee was official.
“That was my first day. That was crazy,” Matheney said.
Through timing and leadership experience that began during Matheney’s first year of college at Wheaton College in Chicago, where he served as freshman class president, he started an internship with Ohio House of Representatives Assistant Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman in February.
Matheney, a political science major, said he has had an interest in politics from a young age.
“Ever since I was little, I knew there were two things I was meant for: either a pastor or a politician,” he said.
His interest in interning in Statehouse politics started on a whim.
He has family who are supporters of Republican Randy Gardner, the representative of Wood County, Matheney said. After Matheney called him to ask about the process to become an intern, Gardner forwarded Matheney’s resume to the intern coordinator. Grossman was requesting an intern around that same time.
Matheney said earning valuable experience so early in his college career has given him a greater insight into what a career in politics might entail before he has to make decisions about going to graduate school or law school or just trying to start his career after graduation.
“This has given me more of what being a politician would be like behind the speeches and the glamour,” Matheney said, and that it has also helped give him “a better, more well-rounded view of what to expect.”
It also has helped give him ideas and connections for other ways to become involved after his internship is over.
“It’s showed me a different side of politics that not many people get to see,” he said.
He’s been able to observe and participate in committee meetings dealing with the controversial Senate Bill 5 and the repeal of the estate tax.
“I got involved so early to see what I would want to do,” he said.
Evan’s father, Steve, said, “I’ve tried to teach Evan to always use a firm handshake, foster a loving spirit, and question what he believes. Instead, he gives incredible hugs, makes my heart swell with pride and causes me to question everything I know.”
Former area resident Timothy Matheney, Evan’s uncle who serves as principal of South Brunswick High School in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, said, “I’m so pleased that Evan has an opportunity to be at the vortex of some of the most important political developments in recent memory. I know that he’s learning that the public policy process is messy and confounding at times, but also incredibly exciting.”
Matheney said he’s now seen both the seemingly unethical side of politics and what he calls the extreme good side of politics.
Someone wrote a letter to Grossman explaining that their daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome and was having trouble getting into and getting financial aid from the colleges to which she was applying because of her disorder.
Grossman’s staff was able to contact the colleges and help work with them and the girl’s family to help her, he said.
On the other hand, he has witnessed representatives yelling at each other.
He keeps hope, though, that when his days of decision-making in politics arrive, he won’t need to stoop to “the dirty side” of the process.
“I don’t think you need to be unethical. I think you can keep your beliefs and be a politician,” Matheney said.
Matheney is no stranger to the busy schedule of a politician — in addition to being a full-time student and Statehouse intern, he’s also the director of leadership for the Residence Hall Advisory Council at Ohio State.
Although his internship with Grossman ends this summer, Matheney is hoping to stay in Columbus and in the Statehouse as a page — someone who is a paid assistant in the General Assembly.
“That would be the ideal situation,” he said.
Matheney says he’s felt like a naturally good networker, so being in the position he’s in now has allowed him to form relationships with those who can help further his career and do good things for Ohio.
“I think the coolest thing has been getting to know people who care about change in their state and trying to get the job done to even just run Ohio,” he said.