Students take over Springfield with Model Illinois Government

What would happen if the Illinois General Assembly left town for the weekend? Have no fear, Model Illinois Government (MIG) is here!

Lake Forest College sent a delegation of six students to participate in the annual simulation of Illinois government in Springfield from March 2-5. Since 1978, Model Illinois Government has allowed college students throughout Illinois to simulate the Illinois House, Senate, statewide executive officers and Supreme Court for a few days each year.

Brooke Bolerjack ’23, Gabe Blindauer ’24, Tucker Lehman ’24, Emma Hausknecht ’25, Delfina Jorgensen ’25, and Libby Moog ’26  accompanied Lecturer in Politics and Coordinator of Public Policy Studies Christine Walker to Springfield.

Delegates took to the floor of the House in the Capitol, sitting at the desks of the elected representatives. The students used the designated microphones and voting buttons which are used in real legislative action, including appearing on the electronic voting board’s video screen when they were debating.

“This experience strengthened my ability to interpret the Constitution, critically evaluate arguments, and communicate effectively,” Bolerjack said. “These skills are vital not only for those in public service, but for all responsible American citizens.”

The 2023 MIG session marked the first time in 30 years the College participated in the Springfield event. In the late 1980s, delegations from Lake Forest College took part in MIG nearly every year, with several students being elected to serve on the Executive Board. One of those students was Christine Walker ’89.

“Being part of MIG enriched my life personally and professionally for decades,” Walker said. “MIG is such an innovative and unique experience for anyone who is passionate about shaping public policy. Knowing the joy and connections MIG brings to each delegate, I was beyond thrilled to introduce our students to the same experience I had.”

“If it wasn’t for Christine Walker, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience this life-changing event. Professor Walker is always looking out for students’ best interests, and she is always providing ways to further our professional development,” Lehman said.

Lake Forest College students displayed a high level of skill and knowledge throughout the weekend that did not go unrecognized. Hausknecht was awarded the Outstanding Committee Member of the House for the entire simulation, and Bolerjack is the first student in MIG history to serve as a Justice at Moot Court. At the closing awards ceremony, the Chief Justice stated that “[Bolerjack] had earned her J.D. in three days” based on her legal acumen.

MIG provides students with hands-on experience that can serve their career plans. 

Lehman’s ambition is to work in politics one day. “This experience has reconfirmed my passion for making this world a better place,” he shared. “Being able to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives for the weekend and advocate for what is right for your constituents is an honor and a privilege.”