Austin Lathren, a senior political science major from Greenwood, says that the internship he completed during the summer and fall of 2022 with the City of Greenwood confirmed his calling to go into public administration upon graduation from Lander.
“Going into the internship, I was debating between going to law school and getting my Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree,” Lathren said. “The internship helped me realize what my strengths are and learn what my calling is.”
His time with the City of Greenwood gave him the chance to work closely with the city’s administrators, and help make significant improvements to city policy. Lathren’s main project was to identify properties inside city limits with dwellings that weren’t fit for habitation, in accordance with the International Property Maintenance Code. City officials developed a new set of procedures for dealing with dilapidated housing in Greenwood thanks to Lathren’s work, and City Council recently adopted those new procedures.
Greenwood City Manager Julie Wilkie was familiar with Lathren’s struggle of choosing between a law degree and an MPA degree. It was the same decision she had to weigh when she was a student at Lander. Yet, it was Greenwood County Manager Jim Kier (after coordinating an internship for Wilkie) who first encouraged her to go into public administration. She was happy to offer that same encouragement to Lathren.
“Growth in South Carolina isn’t slowing down any time soon,” said Wilkie. “The field of public administration needs passionate, assertive, smart individuals like Austin to continue to lead our thriving and growing local communities… I think our staff has managed to convince him that pursuing his MPA would be a positive career path for him.”
Assistant City Manager Draper Carlile was equally impressed with Lathren’s performance during his internship, noting that his work in the field helped staff and council members understand some of the nuances of the city’s property maintenance code, “especially where changes could be made to help the city enhance these areas of our community,” Carlile said. “[Lathren] has stepped up and met the challenge of every assignment given, and his wealth of knowledge has made the process simpler, cleaner, and better for our community.”
Now, as Lathren begins applying to graduate schools, he’ll have a fulfilling internship experience he can point to—one that allowed him to study existing city ordinances, propose new policy and present before City Council. Lathren says, among other things, those public speaking opportunities were invaluable. “I have been able to feel comfortable in my own skin when it comes to public speaking,” he said.