PLS Public Service Award goes to senior Megan Smejkal

By: Karessa Weir

Graduating senior Megan Smejkal, who is majoring in history, political science, and economics has been awarded the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University’s Public Service Award, announced Department Chair Dr. Jeff Conroy-Krutz. 

Megan will graduate with degrees in political science, economics, and history and a Minor in Social Science Quantitative Data Analytics. She is in the Political Science Scholars program as well as scholars programs with her other majors. Megan was also a Marshall Scholar nominee and completed the Michigan Government Semester Program.   

During her time at MSU, Megan has been a part of the Asian Pacific American Student Organization, Professional Asian Student Association, Residence Halls Association, Women’s Leadership Institute Student Cohort, and Women and Minorities in Economics.   

She served the community by advocating tirelessly for marginalized individuals in the public policy sphere through her roles as an intern in Chicago’s Office of the City Clerk and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s District Office.  

“Megan is one of the most impressive students I have ever taught. First, she is an exceptional student, maintaining a near-perfect GPA while working towards three separate undergraduate degrees in political science, economics, and history (along with a minor in quantitative data analytics),” said Assistant Professor Marty Jordan, who nominated Megan for the award.  

“But her commitment to public service is even more impressive. Megan participated in MGSP in Spring 2023 and interned with U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-7) District’s Office. Megan completed policy research, assisted in casework, communicated with constituents, and helped coordinate district events. According to the Congresswoman’s staffers, Megan “was an amazing intern; she has been a superstar.”  

“This is high praise from a group of staffers with incredibly high expectations. Equally relevant, Megan frequently centered marginalized voices, reflecting a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. For example, Megan also worked on a team to deliver oral testimony before a mock legislative committee hearing, advocating for transgender rights in youth sports. She was not afraid to tackle a controversial topic. She approaches all conversations with humility and a willingness to listen.  

“In fact, because of Megan’s composure, I asked her to introduce our keynote speaker, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (Michigan’s first female Senate Majority Leader), at our end-of-semester reception. Megan knocked the introduction out of the park.  

“In addition to her internship with Congresswoman Slotkin, Megan has also interned for the Chicago City Clerk and two political campaigns. She has even supported faculty research projects at MSU, conducting exit polling of MSU students for the Midterm 2022 elections, and studying media bias’s impact on public opinion.  

“Beyond her academic excellence, Megan is a leader on campus and in the community. For instance, Megan is the chair of the Asian Pacific American Student Organization and president of the Professional Asian Student Association on campus. After attacks on the Asian American community in January 2023, Megan created a space for safety and support for dozens of her AAPI peers on campus. Megan is also an active member of the Women’s Leadership Institute and serves as the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the residence halls on campus. 

“I regularly ponder how Megan does it all. But she does make time for rejuvenation. One of my most endearing memories of Megan is that she had to skip out on an optional class meeting because she acquired tickets to see the indie-rock band, Hippo Campus. She has a captivating authenticity,” Dr. Jordan said.  

Megan wrote in her award essay that she is proud of the work she did helping people from all walks of life.  

” I patiently guided and supported many individuals through each application process, being particularly communicative with those who did not speak English as a first language or who were not well accustomed to online systems. I was also able to direct constituents to other free city services and programs, such as the pharmaceutical discount, that can be integrated into their CityKey. Interacting with more than 100 people per day provided me with profound insights into public needs,” she wrote.  

“Sometimes the solution was simply updating a link on the website, but other times it was figuring out how to implement equitable payment options. I effectively conveyed the needs and solutions to leadership for action and resolution.” 

Following graduation, Megan plans to work in a congressional office or federal department for a few years before applying to law school.