Alexander Lane Internship

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Alexander Lane Booklet

Applications will reopen in spring 2021

Alexander Lane embodies Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s tradition of serving a diverse student population, including the disadvantaged and first-generation college students.  His dedication to improving his own life is inspiring to today’s students who face their own unique challenges.  The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute seeks to honor Dr. Lane by providing a precious gift he took full advantage of – an opportunity to excel.

The Alexander Lane Story

Alexander Lane was born in pre-Civil War Mississippi. His mother, a slave, sent him north with a Union Army Colonel with the promise of an education.  He was raised on a farm in Southern Illinois and in 1876 became the first African-American male student graduate at what was then called Southern Illinois Normal University.

Lane became an educator, serving as the first principal of Carbondale’s East Side School for Negroes, which later became Attucks School.  He moved to Chicago where he graduated from Rush Medical College in 1895 and was appointed as the Cook County assistant physician.

In 1906, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, making him just the ninth African American elected to the state legislature.  He was re-elected in 1908.  Lane died on November 13, 1911, and is buried in Carbondale.

The Alexander Lane Internship Program
The Alexander Lane Internship Program will send at least one student each spring to work with a minority member of the Illinois General Assembly, providing the student with challenging and rewarding assignments such as:

  • Reviewing and analyzing legislation
  • Researching issues to be used in the member’s creation of proposed legislation;
  • Attending policy briefings, press conferences, committee hearings, and other governmental meetings and functions;
  • Interacting with and responding to constituents and the public; and
  • Establishing contacts with state agencies and other legislative offices to develop a full understanding of how state government works to meet the needs of the public.

Students will carry Dr. Lane’s legacy with them to Springfield and beyond as they follow their own path toward high achievement, public service and excellence through opportunity.

Undergraduate and graduate students from all academic backgrounds are eligible to apply. Preference is given to minority students. Applicants must also provide two letters of recommendation along with the application.

The internship requires the student to live in Springfield, IL during the spring semester. Lane Interns will be selected by a committee chaired by the Simon Institute Director and comprised of other university faculty and staff, alumni and internship donors. The endowment fund provides students with a stipend for living expenses, transportation costs, and other necessities during the internship.

Application Process
To apply, please fill out our Student Opportunities Application.

You may bring the application to the Institute or submit your application via email to