Frankfort Internship Leads to Legislative Director Career for UofL Political Science Alum

Frankfort Internship Leads to Legislative Director Career for UofL Political Science Alum

June 4, 2024

By Stephanie Godward, Director of Communications and Marketing, College of Arts and Sciences

Liam Gallagher’s ambition to have an impact in the world of politics all began in the first grade when he had the chance to meet the President of the United States at the time: Barack Obama.

“I was a little boy, and I was thinking, ‘I want to be him someday,’” Liam said.

Liam’s father, an artist, had painted a portrait of Michelle Obama in 2004, and as a result in 2008, this chance encounter with the leader of the free world opened Liam’s young mind to the possibility of one day achieving the highest office in the United States.

Today, Liam is a 22-year-old 2024 graduate from UofL’s Political Science Department, with a laser-focus on having an impact as a center-right conservative lobbyist working within the Kentucky General Assembly.

Liam has quickly gone from full-time student to full-time Legislative Director at Americans for Prosperity, where he is fighting to influence and shape state laws around important issues. His passions include lobbying for free speech and certificate of need reform, which aims to ensure people in remote and rural areas have access to hospitals and emergency medical care.

He credits UofL’s Political Science Department and the opportunity to participate in the Frankfort Legislative Internship Program for accelerating his career. Having the option to earn credits through independent studies with the support of his professors also allowed him to begin working full-time for AFP while he was still completing his undergraduate studies.

“In college, you’re preparing yourself for your inevitable career and experiential learning does that,” Liam said. “There’s no better program than UofL’s. It gives you access to the most connections, the most chances to network, and so many opportunities for experiential learning – it’s just amazing.”

Liam participated in the Frankfort Legislative Internship Program during his freshman and sophomore years. This program provides UofL students with an opportunity to work and learn in a hands-on legislative environment, gaining work experience in individual legislators’ offices, and assisting with activities and work functions. The internship counts for three academic credit hours, and all interns receive a stipend.

“For the students, you get the chance to go to Frankfort three days a week during session, and you get to interact with the who’s who of Kentucky politics. Especially for political science majors, it gives you an in-depth understanding of how the legislature works in a way that classes cannot show you. You learn the rules of a legislative body, you can help draft legislation, write committee reports, and participate in anything your legislator wants you to do,” he said.

Liam says the experience gave him an education that went beyond the textbook, putting him in the building where decisions are being made within the state legislature, along with access to a career-changing network of leaders.

After having a less-than-traditional start to college life during the height of the pandemic in 2020 as an incoming freshman, Liam’s experiences at UofL and the way he faced those challenges inform his work today at AFP.

“Going into college during Covid, I was scared, and I was nervous,” Liam said. “Going into sophomore year, I hadn’t had much of the college experience. But as things started to open again, all my fellow students and I started to blossom. Covid forced everyone in my class to mature a lot. To say, regardless of what was going on, this isn’t about me – this is about everybody. That experience allowed me to do what I did, and it helped me to grow.”

Dr. Kristopher Grady, political science professor, says that Liam has an intuitive understanding and a palpable interest in electoral politics.

“I think that the practical experiences of the Frankfort Internship Program can help our students, equipped with their ability and ambition, to gain traction in their careers after graduation,” said Dr. Grady. “There are a few ways that the program can be helpful for students. First, the internship can allow students to integrate their academic knowledge with the practicalities of how government is conducted in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the Frankfort Program provides an opportunity for students to build their resume and develop their professional skills.”

While he had originally planned to pursue law school after receiving his B.A. in political science, Liam now has his sights set on eventually running for office.

For political science majors starting courses this fall, Liam encourages them to apply to participate in the Frankfort Legislative Internship Program, and to take advantage of the many opportunities for learning.

“It is amazing and there are not enough students who do it – there are especially not enough conservative students who do it,” he said. “I would also say keep an open mind. Take a class you don’t expect to enjoy at least one time in college. College is not about staying in your comfort zone. Experiment now. Fail now. And get better from it.”