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From the UNI-Dome to the Capitol Dome
Editor's note: This is a letter from UNI alumni Josh Wilson. He is currently Governor Terry Branstad's public liaison.
There’s a big difference between the University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa State Capitol, but the education I received while at UNI has been instrumental in helping me fulfill my role in the Branstad/Reynolds administration. Working for Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is truly an honor, and going to work each and every day is exhilarating.
Wilson's interests in politics and communications made going to UNI a natural step.
Throughout high school I knew that I had interests in both communications and politics. This made going to UNI to major in political communication a natural next step. This relatively new major allowed me to study both political science and communication studies. It provided me with a basic understanding of state and local politics as well as the major role that mass media plays in government.
In addition to my academics at UNI, completing the required internship for my degree was a great learning experience and has allowed me to take on many of my responsibilities without additional training. During my internship with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, I was able to get a sample of what it was like to work in politics and network with professionals in the field, all while completing my degree.
As the Governor’s Public Liaison, I am able to use much of what I learned at UNI on a daily basis. It is my responsibility to manage the relationship between the Iowa public and the Governor’s office. Some of my duties include facilitating meet-and-greets with the Governor, preparing talking points for the Governor for various speaking engagements, working on milestone birthday and anniversary greetings to Iowa constituents, and serving as the office’s intern coordinator. My desk is located in the Governor’s staff offices on the main level of the Iowa Statehouse. The building itself dates back to the mid 1800s and is full of Iowa history. One of the best parts of my job is being able to share the building and its contents with Iowa visitors, as well as visitors from across the United States and around the world.
Working for the Governor has provided me with many exciting opportunities such as meeting U.S. presidential candidates, nationally known political figures and television personalities, famous Iowans such as NFL player Tyler Sash, and perhaps most exciting, attending a state dinner in February for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. Additionally, I was able to meet with U.S. Ambassador Laurie Fulton of Denmark as well as tour the Danish Parliament during a recent trip to Northern Europe. Most recently I assisted with the planning of the National Lt. Governors Association Executive Council Meeting, which was hosted in Des Moines. More than 10 Lt. Governors were in attendance from our neighboring states in the Midwest, friends from the east coast, and as far as the U.S. Virgin Isles.
I look forward to my future in public service, and will always remember where it all began… the University of Northern Iowa.