Student Feature: Jake Richins, Student Director at the Michael O. Leavitt Center

Cassidy Harmon

Jake Richins, Student Director at the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service, had the opportunity to intern in Washington D.C. and rub shoulders with some very important congressmen.

After looking at Richins’ impressive resume, you would never expect him to come from a town as small as Wanship, Utah, a place where stop lights don’t exist and the population is under 500. Richins spent his childhood days on a farm. Normal activities for him included herding cows and getting the chicken eggs in the morning. In the afternoons, he would spend his days wandering the hills that surrounded his town. It was at this time he started to develop a passion for the environment.

Throughout his school years, Richins noticed that his teachers always told him how to think about the issues involving the environment and this bothered him. He wanted to know for himself, so he became a skeptic. He started doing his own research so that he could come to his own conclusions. Through his research he noticed that farmers’ voices were always pushed to the side. Their voice was given up for the “greater good.” However, Richins didn’t agree with this. He felt that someone needed to stand up for the farmers to be their voice–to be their advocate.

After graduating high school with 84 other students, Richins was ready for a change. He did what anyone in his position would do and moved away from home to go to college. He chose Southern Utah University because it was far enough away from this parents that they couldn’t visit him all the time, yet he could still go home if he felt so inclined. “I don’t know why,” Richins said, “but I was drawn to Southern Utah University.”

Not unlike many college students, Richins changed his major his sophomore year. He originally started out as an English major but after much debate and a sabbatical from school, he graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Criminal Justice.

In the summer of 2016, Richins applied for internships. One by one, his applications were rejected. But just when he lost hope and began making other plans, Richins was offered an internship in Washington D.C. on the Committee of Natural Resources and Federal Lands. The only problem was that he only had one week to pack up his belongings and move to Washington D.C. While there, Richins had the opportunity to sit in on some heated discussions. He was also able to rub shoulders with some very important congressmen including, but not limited to: Paul Ryan, Bruce Westerman and Kristi Noem.

Richins loved being in the big city; his only complaint was that he missed the majestic Utah mountains. After completing his internship, he returned to Cedar City to begin the Masters of Public Administration program. It was at this point he found employment at the Leavitt Center. Now he can be found running events instead of stapling papers behind a desk in the country’s capital.

In the past year at the Leavitt Center, Jake has learned to be prepared for anything.

He is currently entering the last year of his MPA and his future looks bright. After graduating, he hopes to move to Alaska to work on wildlife policies. Jake is fascinated by the fact that politics allow people to get involved and use their voice.

The fact that his voice can help make this country the best it can be is inspiring. After reviewing everything that Jake has accomplished in his life, he is proud of how far he’s come and is excited about his plans for the future.

Jake Richins, Student Director of the Michael O. Leavitt for Politics and Public Service. Photo courtesy of The Leavitt Center & Jake Richins.