Young Alumnus Heads to Nation’s Capital
After graduating this past May, Cornelious Burke ’08 headed to the nation’s capital for an internship that brings policymaking to life. The young alumnus says that LMU helped pave the path for what he hopes to be a shining political career.
“Summer is the busiest legislative period, so I’m glad to be here in Washington D.C., working on critical issues that affect my district,” he said.
As part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Internship Program, Burke is spending nine weeks in Representative Maxine Waters’ Washington office. Burke grew up and still lives in South L.A., so he is very familiar with the issues that Waters must address in the 35th Congressional District, which she represents.
Affordable housing, rising gas prices and homelessness are among the legislative topics that Burke has been involved in reviewing. “My passion is to help people resolve quality-of-life issues through the political process. … I enjoy politics, and the programs offered at LMU allowed me to use Los Angeles as a lab for learning.”
Burke believes that he benefited from having at his fingertips resources such as the LMU Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles (LCSLA) and the Office of Community and Government Relations. Programs such as the Urban Issues Lecture Series, which brings political, business and community leaders to campus for discussions about the future of Los Angeles, taught him that ordinary citizens who are engaged civically can shape their communities and even their country.
The series also enabled Burke to form connections with local, state and federal politicians that led him to various undergraduate opportunities. The on-the-go budding politician has held a total of six internships in the private and public sector, including one at the mayor’s office in Los Angeles. After this summer, he will have gained first-hand experience from the local to national levels of government.
“The size of the LMU campus made it easy to network and get to know people,” explained Burke. “I received support from faculty, staff and even alumni who mentored me and reinforced LMU’s mission for social justice in whatever I do.”
Because of his dedication and community outreach, Burke was a recipient of LMU’s African American Alumni Association Scholarship for three consecutive years. The first-generation graduate, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and urban studies, plans to go to USC this fall for a master’s degree in urban planning.
“I look forward to bringing back the knowledge and applying everything I’ve learned here at home in Los Angeles,” he said.