A promise: Raising political education

rebovichBy Julia Corrigan
In an effort to uphold the mission of the late Dr. David Rebovich, The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics recognized four New Jersey political leaders and supported scholarships for Rider students in unpaid political internships and civic programming.

Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Congressman Tom MacArthur, and President of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) Michele N. Siekerka were honored on March 6 for their advancements in politics at the Rebovich Gala hosted at Green Acres Country Club.

“Four years ago we gave away one $500 scholarship and that was our very first Rebovich fellow,” said Ben Dworkin, assistant professor of political science and director of the Rebovich Institute. “Today, there are 12 Rebovich fellows and this past summer we gave away $12,000.”

The goals of the Rebovich Institute are to raise the level of political discourse by educating the public about civic programming and to train the next generation of political leaders, according to Dworkin.

With these core values in mind, the institute chose to honor Senate President Sweeney for the Rebovich Legislative Award on behalf of his political leadership and interest in refining New Jersey. Sweeney hopes that the future generation will embody the missions taught at the Rebovich Institute.

“At the end of the day, you always have to find what’s best, and what’s best is what you’re doing here at Rider,” said Sweeney. “You’re finding some of the finest young people who are taking an interest and caring about their future.”

Being a politician not only requires a person to be a leader, but often also to go above and beyond expectations to help those in need. Congressman MacArthur did exactly this when Hurricane Sandy hit his hometown. MacArthur was recognized with the Rebovich Citizenship Award because of his efforts and help with a wide variety of charities.

Mercer County Executive Hughes was the third candidate to be acknowledged for his guidance within the political field. He received the Rebovich Leadership Award. Hughes said he appreciates the dedication that the institution provides for young adults.

“[The Rebovich Institute] develops young men and women who are interested in the reality of politics, how news gets made and what goes on behind the headlines,” said Hughes. “I think for that, New Jersey owes the institute an invaluable service.”

NJBIA President Siekerka was the last honoree to be accredited for her hard work. Siekerka and the NJBIA received the Rebovich Corporate Neighbor Award.
Getting an internship is crucial to advancing a student’s career in his or her selected field, and the award recipients and creators of the Rebovich Gala understand the significance behind this step.

“I’ve also had a career in public affairs, so I know the importance of helping students get a start in their careers,” said Jayne O’Connor, the co-chair for the event.

The Rebovich Institute’s goal of aiding scholars assisted 2008 Rider graduate, Charles Burton, and changed his life. He now works in Trenton as a lobbyist with government affairs.

“Since I was involved in internships on campaigns and going to institute events, I have been able to network more strategically, and present my skill set in the best possible light,” said Burton.

Burton feels that if it were not for Rider, he would not be as refined in his career today. The Rebovich Institute has inspired many past and future political leaders, thanks to the strong mission built by Rebovich, a former political science professor who enjoyed high visibility as a political commentator in the media.

“One does not replace David Rebovich,” said Dworkin. “You only try to build on what he built and to uphold his values and make a difference in the lives of others as he was able to do.”

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