This past summer, one of our very own Policy Terps, Ewaoluwa Ogundana MPP ‘23, worked as a communications intern for the City of College Park Municipal Government. Through this position, Ogundana learned the value of engaging with the community and communicating directly with the city’s constituents.
When the internship application opened for the Maryland Municipal League (MML), Ogundana had to choose between three different local governments. From there, she chose to stay close to her roots and work for the City of College Park.
“Prior to this internship, I always thought of the University and the City of College Park as one and the same,” Ogundana said. “What many people don’t know is that both entities fall under separate leaderships and have completely different responsibilities.”
As the communications intern, Ogundana witnessed a variety of projects and events that emphasized the power of community and shared governance within the City of College Park. Ogundana mentioned various city-sponsored events such as the ‘Friday Night Live’ summer series, the Fourth of July parade and the family movie night that allowed her to meet different people who genuinely enjoy living in College Park and are not just here for school.
One of the main tasks that Ogundana took on in her position was a video project for the Department of Public Works (DPW) to notify residents of a new ordinance that required community members to obtain a permit before they removed a tree. This project stemmed from the city’s 2018 assessment that found approximately 1,341 acres of College Park is covered by tree canopy, so this ordinance was passed to protect the canopy that took up about 38% of the city. It was during this project that College Park was devastated by a major storm in July that left many trees around the city uprooted.
“From this experience, I saw how policies may need to be bypassed in certain circumstances like weather emergencies,” Ogundana said. “Though it was unfortunate that the storm occurred, the way the city handled the situation taught me the true power of local governance.”
“The most important thing I learned from this experience is how powerful municipal governance is and how it impacts our everyday lives in our local communities,” Ogundana said. “I had the opportunity to see that first-hand when the City of College Park quickly responded to the effects from the July storm that caused a lot of damage around the city and to residents’ homes.”
Despite working for many people outside of the UMD community, Ogundana’s education with the School of Public Policy (SPP) was what motivated her to pursue a local municipality position.
“While my education at SPP exposed me to the importance of local governance, the MML internship gave me the opportunity to see it live in action and helped me to better understand the structure of a city’s council and administration,” Ogundana said.