Administrator intern provides perspective on the city of Marshall

These past few months, I was able to work with Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) student Loic Dah as city administrator intern. The following is a perspective of his time with the city:

My name is Loic Dah and I was born and raised in Ivory Coast, a country of more 20 million habitants in west Africa. I grew up in the capital city of Abidjan of about 4 million people where after I graduated high school I studied public law for three years and earned an undergraduate degree. I then decided to pursue a political science degree in the U.S. When it came to the choice of the school, I wanted a completely different experience and something affordable. I found SMSU in an article about colleges in the U.S with a good quality price rapport.

Marshall is a small town, especially compared to where I came from. However, I like Marshall because it is quiet, everything is close by and most importantly there is a great feeling of community.

When I first got here, others would tell me how it was boring, there was nothing going on and how it was hard for international student to adapt to this environment. Today I would consider this a misconception. SMSU and the city together make a great community, I was able to make connections that allowed me to thrive and develop meaningful friendships.

Having the chance to be an intern for city administration, I was able to see with a close eye not only what city administration and staff do, but also learn new things and apply some of the skills I have learned. I had to use my research, communication and computer skills through creation of charts, spread sheets and getting the chance to speak during meetings and publicly at the radio and in front of the city council. I completed research on city population growth history, research other cities and compare then to Marshall in terms of economy.

But If there was an ultimate reward out of this internship it would be the dynamism of city administration. During my time as an intern I had the chance to see how much the city staff were always trying to find the appropriate solutions to the betterment of the people in Marshall. For example, this dedication was clearly seen at Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board meetings.

The members of the board were constantly on a drive to develop the city by making decision to creates an ideal environment for companies to come and for people to invest in Marshall, despite the challenge and considering the obstacles.

I also had the opportunity to meet regarding a diversity plan for the city with SMSU provost and the campus Chief Diversity officer. This meeting was a good experience because being a person of color living in Marshall where through many experiences, testimonies and conversations, I believe that diversity is important, and that the city needs to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for people like me.

Looking at what is being done from an inside perspective for the sake of growth and development of the city it is impossible not to have more respect and appreciation for city government. For the rest of my career, whether through my education or my profession, I would like to apply the leadership, decision making and management skills I had the opportunity to learn.