Cole Scholars Turns 20

November 7, 2014
Communications Staff
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

OBERLIN—Oberlin College will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cole Scholars politics internship program on November 14-15 with a weekend of panel discussions and featured guest speaker Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, an Oberlin alumna and mayor of Baltimore.

Since 1994, more than 200 students have been placed in eight-week campaign internships in which they study and work on political races throughout the country. The Cole Scholars program is offered through the Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics (OIEP), a nonpartisan program funded by class of 1956 alumni Richard and Dorothy Cole to encourage graduates to run for and serve in public office.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake graduated from Oberlin in 1992 with a degree in politics. She will give the keynote address, “A Life in Politics,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 14, in Nancy Dye Lecture Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

A lifelong Baltimore resident, she was sworn in as the city’s 49th mayor on February 4, 2010. She has focused her administration on growing Baltimore’s population by 10,000 families over the next decade by improving public safety, reforming public education, and strengthening city neighborhoods. In 2013, she released “Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore,” the city’s first long-range financial plan to eliminate a $750 million structural deficit she inherited.

In 1995, at the age of 25, Rawlings-Blake became the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She later served as council president from 2007 to 2010. She is currently secretary of the Democratic National Committee and holds key leadership positions in the U.S. Conference of Mayors—including vice president.

“For decades, the Cole Scholars program has helped cultivate the next generation of political leaders,” said Rawlings-Blake. "In a time of national uncertainty, I commend our Cole Scholars for seizing the opportunity to make transformative and lasting changes, and congratulate them on dedicating their lives to public service—a field that requires a lot of work, but is truly rewarding. These scholars embody the spirit and exemplify our pledge to ‘Learning and Labor.’”

Selected Cole Scholars are supported financially and professionally in field placements for eight weeks during the summer. Recent participants have worked on the campaigns of Bill de Blasio for Mayor of New York, Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia, Michelle Nunn for U.S. Senate, and Kay Hagan for U.S. Senate, while others have held internships with major consulting firms.

"The Cole Scholars internships provide our students with an opportunity to work on important political campaigns throughout the country, and this often helps them once they leave Oberlin,” says Michael Parkin, associate professor of politics.” In fact, many of them have gone on to impressive positions in government, advertising, and campaigns."

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