Graduate Intern Programs

The Office of Graduate Intern Programs, located within the Center for State Policy and Leadership, secures public sector experiential internships that afford top flight graduate students with the opportunity to integrate the academic classroom with real world learning.

During 2018, the GPSI program is celebrating 44 years of public service (1974-2018). If you are a former GPSI intern, we would like to hear from you. Please please contact the GPSI Director, Sherrie Elzinga, at



Leadership Lived: UIS Graduate Student Works to Finish Education Following Military Deployment

Like most graduate students, Francisco Solano planned to finish his MBA at the University of Illinois Springfield in two years. However, his plans were changed by a military deployment.

A year and a half into his education, while in the middle of a Graduate Public Service (GPSI) internship with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Solano got the opportunity to deploy for a year with the U.S. Army.

“That interrupted my internship as well as my studies,” he said.

A few months before returning to the United States from deployment, Solano reached out to the GPSI Program to discuss how he could finish his education at UIS.

“I contacted the GPSI office and told them that I was still interested in pursuing the internship and completing the program,” he said. “They were nice enough to allow me to come back and finish the program.”

For 44 years, the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program has been helping graduate students receive real world experience working in state government.

“(UIS and IDOT) did go out of their way to make everything work so that I could return in time and so that both of our timelines would work,” said Solano.

Solano commissioned as an active duty solider in the U.S. Army in 2010. Upon starting graduate school, he left active duty and joined the Illinois Army National Guard where he currently holds the rank of captain.  Reflecting on his experience at UIS, Solano is glad he made the choice to come to Springfield.

“What I like the best about UIS specifically is that they have the resources of a large university, but they give the attention of a smaller university. The student to professor ratio is excellent,” he said.

Although deploying in a middle of his internship wasn’t his original plan, he’s happy with the way that things have worked out.

“It wasn’t my initial plan, but everything just kept falling in place,” he said. “I’ve kept with it and it’s worked out great for me.”


The annual GPSI Recognition Breakfast was held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in the Student Union Ballroom. The GPSI Recognition Breakfast recognizes interns who will be graduating from UIS and leaving their internship as well as award winners of the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership and the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Excellence.


Intern Stories


At the annual GPSI recognition breakfast held on April 11, 2018, Lori Sorenson, Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology, received the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership in recognition of her outstanding leadership as a GPSI supervisor and mentor. Lori is pictured with Judy Zhu, Lori’s GPSI intern, who nominated her for the award.



Bredina Coale, a GPSI intern with the Illinois Department of Public Health, was honored as the recipient of the 2018 Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Excellence. The award was presented at the GPSI annual recognition breakfast held on April 11, 2018. Bredina is shown on the right with Paula Jimenez, her internship supervisor. Bredina will hold a dual Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Public Health.