KPU political science mentorship pairs students with local politicians

The program gives students practical insight into how elected officials do their jobs

Jemma Heathcote (left) and Ty Huston (right) participated in the KPU mentorship program for political science students. (Submitted)

The political science department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University is continuing with its mentorship program which pairs students with local Members of Parliament or Members of the Legislative Assembly. 

The program launched fall 2021 and it gives students pursuing political science majors a clear image of where their degrees can take them. While it’s still a budding enterprise, a few students have now seen how elected officials do their jobs.

Jemma Heathcote is a political science major and one of the students participating in the mentorship program. Heathcote has always had an interest in politics, and when political science instructor Dr. Ross Michael Pink, and KPU announced the creation of the political mentorship program, Heathcote handed in a copy of her resumé to be sent out to prospective MPs and MLAs. 

“I was paired up with the honourable Kerry-Lynne Findlay for South Surrey—White Rock, she is a Conservative Member of Parliament,” says Heathcote. 

While working with an MP, Heathcote found that there is no typical workday for an MP or an MLA and described it as a “quick environment.” Heathcote says that the riding office has been quite busy since the House of Commons is sitting. 

“So back in the office with the other office staff, we’re almost holding down the whole operation, answering all the phone calls, answering all the emails, going to do that communication back and forth. And of course, having to address the concerns of the constituency,” Heathcote says. 

“Since my MP is back in Ottawa, we’re just having to keep that communication [and] let people of South Surrey-White Rock know that their concerns are still being addressed and that there are people listening.” 

Ty Huston also participated in the program before heading to Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia to study international relations. Huston worked four months with MLA Megan Dykeman in the Langley East riding. 

“For B.C. MLAs, you go to Victoria for the week. You get home Friday, and then you only have the weekend to actually work in your community. And then you really don’t have any time for your family and then nothing for a hobby or anything outside of that,” says Huston. 

Huston hopes that the program will provide the necessary experience to get ahead in the political landscape. He joined to get more experience in politics and understand the inner workings of working in politics, and if it was something he wanted to do.

Pink says he wants students to gain valuable practical experience in the field of politics that isn’t available in the lecture hall. 

Citing his own past experience in both the public and private sectors, Pink found that “eighty per cent of jobs are never advertised” thus making it essential that university students get opportunities to learn on the field and network with others. 

“Every office I’ve spoken to is very keen and eager to support students, I mean most people are eager to support student learning and student development,” Pink says.