Last year, Avery Bourne was finishing up coursework at Columbia College. In addition to her studies, Bourne led the college’s student government association and student ambassadors group; she also was tapped to help the Presidential Search Committee select the college’s next president.
Now, a year later, Bourne is a state representative in the Illinois House of Representatives. Stepping in for Wayne Rosenthal, who recently resigned to lead the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Bourne is looking forward to tackling issues facing her district. And while Bourne is relatively new to politics, Dr. Terry Smith, a respected voice on political science, feels she is poised for big things.
“She’s a natural politician,” says Smith, executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs at Columbia College. “Avery is smart as a whip and unbelievably mature about politics. I think she has the potential to hold the highest elected office of anybody who has ever been a graduate of (Columbia College).”
To get a sense of how she’s acclimating to her new role as a state representative, Public Relations recently sat down with Bourne to talk about her whirlwind month.
Obviously this is an exciting time in your life. Share some of the emotions you’ve experienced since you found out about the appointment.
“I am not sure that there are words to describe everything that I have felt throughout this process. I am incredibly humbled and honored to have been chosen for the position. I am grateful for the opportunity and for my education and experience that have led me to this point. I am thankful for the people who have supported me throughout this process and encouraged by all of the notes and messages I have received. I am overwhelmed by the problems that Illinois faces, but hopeful that we can start the work to turn the state around. More than anything, I am just excited for the work ahead and optimistic. It won’t be easy but I have never been more motivated to get up in the morning and get to work.”
What was it like interviewing for this post?
“It was a thirty-day appointment process that included filling out an application, meeting individually with the county chairmen and then interviewing with the panel of four county chairmen. Throughout the process I did a lot of research on issues and the district. I also sought out honest advice from friends, family, colleagues and mentors. I enjoyed the process and it only reaffirmed that I made the right decision in applying.”
What is one thing you learned at Columbia College that will help you in this role?
“It is difficult to narrow it to one specific thing, but I think the most important thing that I learned at Columbia College that will help me in this role is the importance of connections. At Columbia College, having a personal connection with people is a key to success. Taking the effort to get to know people and going out of your way to have real relationships is important at CC. This is something that the administration, staff and faculty modeled. I had great classes and professors at CC, and my education was enhanced by the personal connections and relationships. The value of personal connections will be needed in this job. Without connections and relationships nothing can get done, especially in a legislative position. In my new position it is important to connect with members of the district and other legislators in order to make change.”
What goals do you have during your tenure?
“My primary goal is to be a mouthpiece for my district in the state legislature. Beyond that, I am excited to be a part of putting Illinois back on a sustainable path. This is an important time in Illinois and difficult decisions will have to be made. Ultimately though, I want to be able to look back in thirty years and say that I was a part of the change that turned Illinois around.”
Do you plan to run in 2016?
“Yes. I consider it the privilege of my life to serve the people of the 95th district and if they decide that I am doing a good job representing them, I would love to continue to serve in 2016.”