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OU alum could land job with state senator
When Ohio Sen. Lou Gentile, D-30th, begins representing Athens County for the first time on Jan. 1, he may do so with the help of an Ohio University Bobcat.
Steven Blalock, who graduated from OU in 2011 with a degree in political science, said his experience in Athens gave him the tools to excel as a fellow in the Legislative Service Commission, where he has worked in Gentile’s office since December 2011.
After he completes his 13 months with the commission on Dec. 31, Blalock’s fellowship may translate into a full-time job as an administrative assistant in Gentile’s Columbus office.
“I had spent time abroad, and I knew I wanted to get back into American politics,” Blalock said. “I was always interested in political parties and interest groups, and there were some of these courses (at OU) that I really enjoyed.”
Blalock’s professors said he excelled in the classroom and as a research assistant and, after he graduated, encouraged him to pursue a fellowship at the Legislative Service Commission, a nonpartisan committee that aids the Ohio General Assembly.
“Dr. DeLysa Burnier recommended this opportunity to apply for the (commission),” he said. “So I decided to give it a go.”
Burnier, a political sciscience professor, said Blalock was one of the best students she’s had in 25 years of teaching and added she felt confident he would be accepted into the fellowship.
Shortly after joining the commission, Blalock was assigned to Gentile’s office to work with lobbyists, interest groups and constituents in the 30th District — a job he is well-suited to hold, Burnier said.
“He is an excellent person to have work with constituents,” Burnier said. “He knows how to listen to people and how to communicate in a way that gets the point across.”
Although Gentile cannot officially hire Blalock until he completes his fellowship on Dec. 31, the Ohio senator said Blalock is a strong candidate to become his newest administrative assistant.
“Steven is very well-rounded,” Gentile said. “He’s got a large amount of talent, and we’d like to retain that.”
Blalock’s connection to Athens has proved to be particularly valuable, Gentile said.
“Steven understands the culture and the university,” he said. “He keeps me plugged in to what is going on (in Athens).”
If he becomes Gentile’s newest administrative assistant, Blalock said he would cultivate his connections with Athens even more.
“I want to stay on with Gentile, and stay with the agenda to make sure he is in and around Athens and all of the new district,” he said.
Whether or not Gentile hires him, though, Blalock has the ability to have a successful career in politics, Burnier said.
“He’s the kind of person you can send out to research an issue, and he will come back with an incredibly well-researched and organized report for an elected official,” she said. “He has superior writing and research skills that are invaluable.”
Hard work, though, is most important when trying to move up in the world of politics, Blalock said.
“You need to work really hard, because people notice what you do and what you don’t do,” he said. “It’s vital to take note of that.”