[00:00:01] Speaker A: Greetings scholars, and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast at the Shrier Honors College at Penn State.
Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar alumni have gone on to shape the old after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Doheen, Class of 2011 and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
Peter Schweier, class of 2000, is the Pennsylvania state representative for the 22nd legislative district, which covers parts of the city of Allentown in Lehigh County. Prior to his election to the House in 2014, he was Director of Community and Government Affairs at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown and was twice an elected member of the Allentown City Council. He earned his BA in Political Science with honors from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts in 2000. As a state representative. Schweier serves as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, is chair of the Utilities subcommittee and is a member of the Professional Licensure Consumer Affairs and Ethics Committees. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy Committee and is a Deputy Whip for the PA House Democratic Caucus. Eric Dice, Class of 2008, is a budget analyst for the House Appropriations Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg, which he joined in 2008. He is responsible for helping legislators prepare the annual state budget as well as estimating the fiscal impact of proposed legislation and providing analytical support to aid policy development. He earned his BS in economics with honors from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts in 2008. In this episode, Peter and Eric share their combined insight on the value of starting at a Commonwealth campus and getting to know your faculty and advisors. Leveraging Penn State's breadth to find your depth utilizing department level resources finding jobs when life circumstances affect your choices and getting into public service. What analysts and other staff do for the Pennsylvania State Assembly leveraging the power of the Penn State network and finding other Nitney lions. The importance of getting to know any and all members of your company or organization. They also talk gaining skills from coursework and not just the course content learning to filter out the noise and separating helpful from harmful feedback leaning on family and things that help you find balance. The importance of respect and helping others feel heard. They talk about how if you pursue government the criticality of focusing on your constituents. They also talk about getting mentored and then paying it forward. They wrap up with why being ethical matters, especially in government work, keeping and listening to the good people around you and finding perspective through adversity. And finally, information about the Pennsylvania House's internship programs in Harrisburg and home districts for college students. Now let's dive into our combined conversation with Representative Peter Schweier and analyst Eric Dice following the gong.
[00:03:15] Speaker B: Pete, Eric, thank you both so much for joining me here today on following the Gone. I really appreciate it. Pete, you graduated a little bit before Eric, so I'm going to start with you. Can you tell us about your Penn State days? Both at Penn State what is now Lehigh Valley and at University Park?
[00:03:32] Speaker C: Yeah. Thanks so much.
First of all, at my advanced age, since I'm about 100 years older than Eric, I'll try my very best to remember what it was like at the Agricultural school of Pennsylvania back when I attended there. I started off my college career as an underachieving high schooler from the city of Allentown and I had options to go to a bunch of different colleges but sort of always wanted to go to Penn State. I had a sort of interesting experience. I toured a school down in Philadelphia and I didn't really like it. And the tour guide there just said to all of us, he's like, at the end of the day, you got to be happy where you go. He goes, if it's my school, if it's another school, I don't really care where you, you know, go be happy. And it was funny. It was the worst cell job I've ever had and it was one that actually worked for me to not choose that school and choose Penn State. And so, like I said, I was a bit of an underachiever in high school and didn't get into UPark as a freshman and so ended up at Penn State what was then Allentown, now it's called Penn State Leia Valley. And instead of looking at one of the other branch schools that had dorms where you could live on campus, I stayed home and I did. So I figured if I'm not getting into UPark, I'm going to save a couple of bucks and work full time. So I worked 40 hours a week my freshman and sophomore year at Penn State before I transferred up. And it was really during the middle of my sophomore year, beginning of my sophomore year that my advisor, who happened to be the dean of that campus, said to me, do you look at the honors college? Your grades are good enough, your SATS? He kind of took a minute to look back. My SATS were high enough for entry. He's like, there's no reason why you don't try this and see if we could get you in. And lo and behold, a few months later, I was in the Shriegers College and had absolutely no idea what to expect and made the move up to University Park. And two years later I graduated was able to walk through the theater and get my medal on top of getting my cap and gown the next day.
[00:05:39] Speaker B: Do you remember what you wrote your thesis on, by any chance?
[00:05:42] Speaker C: Oh, I do.
If anybody doesn't remember their thesis, then they didn't work hard enough on it. Mine was the role of the nontraditional media in the 1992 presidential election.
I was a polyscience major and it was a code doctrine or whatever the phrase is with the communications department. So I had people reading and coding newspaper articles and I did some really very mediocre statistical analysis this on what the coders found and was able to churn through that 100 page document in about a year and a half. And I'll never forget. This is my favorite story about it, and I want to hear a little bit about what Eric has. But I remember turning in a chapter to my thesis advisor, Bob O'Connor, and he handed the entire thing back to me a week later with the word English question mark written at the top of it, and I realized I had a lot to figure out in a very short amount of time.
[00:06:43] Speaker B: Well, speaking of Eric, what about you? What drew you to Penn State and the Honors College?
[00:06:49] Speaker D: I came from a family of Penn Staters parents, uncles, aunts, siblings who have all gone to university, so it's always been something that had been on my radar. I didn't know what I wanted to major in when I was in high school, so I thought there were benefits of going to a large public university that had a diversity of things that you could study. I knew that I wanted to continue to work hard and push myself academically, so Shrier made sense that way, and the scholarship helped as well. I also remember that I really liked the idea of the Honors Dorm and that actually turned out to be really true because I'm still in regular contact with a bunch of those guys for both personal and professional stuff. I ended up in Economics, and I pretty much ended up there because I got some great help from my advisor in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, and also because on a whim, I went to talk to head of the Honors Program in the Economics Department. And I don't know that all departments have these sort of things, but in the Economics department they had a specific program where they got together the Honors students to have a seminar class and to have a thesis writing class. That really helped seal and cap the educational experience for me in the Honors College.
[00:08:05] Speaker C: I just want to point out, of course, Dice was a economics major.
Polyside majors and economics majors aren't supposed to get along because we believe in people and you believe in spreadsheets, right? That's about right, yeah.
[00:08:21] Speaker D: We try to bring the spreadsheets where we can and provide value add to you, Pete, it's all about the so.
[00:08:27] Speaker B: A key theme I heard from both of your stories of your time on campus, both at Lehigh Valley and at University Park, was the importance of making sure you connect with your advisors, the administrators. There are folks here to help you along the way. Now, Pete, you're currently a state representative, but that's not typically your first job out of college.
When you announced candidacies for any number of roles. People like to highlight their professional life up to that point. What did you do before becoming a State rep?
[00:09:00] Speaker C: So I think, like a lot of people that kind of enter this field, I always had a strong interest in it. But it takes a while to find your footing. And Candidly, there is something to be said about being a little bit older before you enter elected office. Just for a little bit of perspective in life and from a career. And so I started off as a school teacher in West Philadelphia. I did a program. I graduated in 2000. I did a program called Teach Philadelphia, which is basically an offshoot of Teach for America. And I was only down there for a few months. My father. I'm an only child. My father got sick and his cancer became terminal when I was down there. And so I didn't get to spend as much time as a school teacher as I'd originally expected to. Came home and still needed a job. So I ended up selling skis at the Sports Authority. I don't ski. It was wildly successful. Got a job. And by that I mean I wasn't from there. I got a job working campaigns and then eventually landed in the legislative office where I started.
Kind of like Eric what Eric does, but -1000% is kind of where I started. I made all of $21,000 a year working as the junior staffer of a very young member of the General Assembly. But from there kind of worked my way up. So I worked for representative in Bethlehem and then a senator in Bethlehem finally came over to Allentown. Worked for a House member here. I did some private consulting work sprinkled through it. Then, you know, kind of towards the tail end of my last boss's was I had the opportunity to go and work at a hospital where I did community and government affairs for a small, independent hospital in downtown Allentown, where I learned a ton. Interspersed in all of that. I did work on my transit authority. I ended up becoming a board member of my transit authority and I ran for local office.
So I was on City Council here in Allentown as President of City Council here, and so I sort of bounced around a lot. And that's not a unique story in Harrisburg. There's a lot of people know. Because by nature, legislators are jack of all trades, master of none. Eric Can Absolutely Speak Truth power that I Am master of no particular policy, but we have to, by the very nature of the job that we do, be able to kind of fill in a bunch of different gaps and be able to try to make reasonable decisions with partial knowledge.
I think having that wide swath of time in a transit authority, healthcare education was very helpful to me as I moved to the Legislature.
[00:11:49] Speaker B: Now, you mentioned being a staffer for a specific rep, and you've also made many allusions to what Eric does. I think most folks probably have a rough idea of what an elected official in an assembly does. But Eric, can you talk about how you play a really key role in the legislative process in Harrisburg?
[00:12:08] Speaker D: Sure. It's a big team effort. Over 140 laws were passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2020. And I work on the Appropriations Committee. So we are responsible for dealing with the state budget and also for trying to figure out how much those laws are expected to cost. So in addition to the laws, there was over 98 billion in state and federal funds spent on priorities set by state lawmakers like Pete, 34 billion or so from the General Fund. And the job of the staff is to help the elect officials develop and vet the ideas that they are receiving from their constituents and their communities, get them into policy proposals, and then write the bills, amendments, and work of agencies to implement all those things.
For the Appropriations Committee, specifically, budget analysts like me help forecast revenues and expenses and the cost estimates for policy proposals. And then other committees may need some help with number crunching, and so they can come to us and we can assist them with whatever they need to get things put together for what they want. So Pete can, you know, pick up the phone, call us up and say, I'm meeting with a group of constituents. Can you help me get prepared for that? Or even be on that meeting to help out answer questions? Or he might be working with a committee on a bill and they need a ballpark size of where things might cost, and then we can tweak up or down based on what those numbers come in at.
He's also a member of the Appropriations Committee, and so regularly he has to vote throughout the year on the fiscal notes, which are documents which summarize the cost expectations of legislations in Pennsylvania. This tends to be a little bit more partisan process than some other states, and so an aspect of that is pointing out any flaws or trade offs from his perspective, and we help with that.
In March and February, the Appropriations Committee holds three to four weeks of budget hearings with the heads of state agencies and also institutions like Penn State, which are state funded. And this is a huge effort. And so our job is to digest, understand, and then quickly communicate what's going on in the Governor's budget proposal to members so that they can take that baseline knowledge layer in the concerns and stuff and the perspective that they get from their constituents and be able to ask the right questions to elevate issues and get a deeper understanding of where we're spending our things. And the biggest challenge is that absolute firehose of information that gets thrown at elected officials. I'm only responsible for my one areas of it, but folks like Pete have to handle the whole thing.
[00:14:57] Speaker B: So in effect, if I can summarize what you just said, tell me if I'm wrong. You are helping the elected officials take those campaign promises that they make throughout the actual election cycle and turn those into policies with the real world implications of how much does this cost, how does this actually happen? Going from the little bumper sticker on your car slogan to a real agency, a real program, a real expense that they have to vote on. Is that a fair summary?
[00:15:31] Speaker D: Yeah. And it's a lot of things that they have to vote on. Just the budget can be anywhere from 25 pieces or more of legislation just to put all the pieces together. And there's just plenty of other bills that are moving in any given week that have things that we need to think about.
[00:15:48] Speaker B: Now Pete, you've mentioned that you are both connected to the House Appropriations Committee and Penn State very much prides itself on its network. The power of the Penn State network is everywhere. How did you two, first both cross paths and then more importantly, how did you both discover that you were both Shriyer scholars?
[00:16:09] Speaker C: So I think I met Eric when I first joined the committee, although first of all, Eric's being a little do our I can't do my job, legislators can't do their job without outstanding people with us. And to be perfectly candid, I was staff for eleven years. I was staffed longer than I've been a member. And so having sat in similar, although different positions than Eric, I can tell you that most members, especially those like me who had been staff beforehand, really seek out those members of our team that are A, experts. But B, more importantly than that, I mean, it's all honestly have a work ethic that fits kind of what our expectations are.
Eric is obviously extraordinarily bright, but beyond that, he works extraordinarily hard. And he was very easy to find because whether it, know, roaming the halls of the Capitol or being at his desk or being made a resource to us by our preparations chairman, eric was just one of the ones that you always just naturally turned to. And so it was pretty easy for me to find him because he's kind of ubiquitous in the halls. He's not one of these staff members that kind of sits in his office and is never anywhere. I mean, Eric is involved in policy across the board from the fiscal side providing us with that analysis. I don't know exactly how we figured out we were both Shrier scholars. I think you had a Penn State sticker up next to Sean. I'll say this, do you remember visiting, remember just being a kid and going to see grandma and not calling ahead because you didn't need to because you're just at Grandma's house and who cares? I believe in doing that, just generally speaking everywhere in life and so much to the chagrin of our preparation staff and others, I will routinely just show up at people's doors and be like, hi, I'm going to sit down and talk to you, Eric. Eric's office, it's a sizable desk, but it's surrounded on three walls by a cubicle. So he was trapped when I plopped my keyster down next to him. And he is unabashed about having his Game of Thrones and some of your other wonderful cultural icons around you next year. Penn State sticker. I think that's how we both discovered we were Penn State guys. Plus I'm also that dude that just yells, we are randomly in the Capitol, so I'm not that hard to find either. I'm not sure how we both discovered we were Shrier scholars. I think that was just in the midst of a conversation. But it was easy for me to find Eric because I just seek people out. Plus Eric is just all over the know and with both of us wearing our blue and white on our sleeves at all points in time, it wasn't that hard to figure out the moral of the story.
[00:19:10] Speaker D: Know, keep the swag up in your office, wherever it is.
[00:19:13] Speaker B: Yes, if you are Penn State proud, the pride will find you. I think that's a good moral of that story. What kind of skills would you recommend that scholars work on now in undergrad if they are interested in working in an environment like Harrisburg or perhaps even a city council or something similar like you were a part of?
[00:19:33] Speaker C: Pete yeah. So my college professors would probably not like to hear this, but in my four years at Penn State, my two years as a Shire scholar, I can't really tell you much about the Federalist Papers. I don't know if I remember a lot of details from my comparative politics class. In fact, that one, I can assure you, I don't remember many details. And outside of some specific courses, to be honest with you, those weren't the skills that mattered most to me in my professional career. What Penn State and what Shrier provided me was sort of a skill set beyond a knowledge base and the skill set of communication, the ability to talk to people, the ability to write, the ability to read and read critically and sort of just being very nimble and very flexible in terms of not my ideology. My ideology is my ideology, but in terms of being able to find ways to fit into certain situations were, frankly, far more critical than any of the subject material. The subject material was a means for me to become a grown up. It was a means for me to become a better professional or to become a professional and really looking at it from that perspective. That's the value that I find. Again, when you're in politics you're jack of all trades, master of none. You're literally, at least in a district like mine, you have to be able to communicate with folks at a black church, folks in a union hall, and folks in a country club be able to give the same message. But do so in language that's appropriate for the moment, so that you're not telling people what they want to hear, but you're telling them what you believe and what you think is happening in your community and so forth and so on in an honest manner. It's the proverbial meet people where they're at. And Penn State and Shriers helped me learn to find my voice but also be flexible and be in those spots like that.
[00:21:43] Speaker D: The other thing I'd say is there's no one magic recipe for being successful in state government. Just in my career I've worked with people who have come from all sorts of different backgrounds, who have worked at analysts or in other capacities. We've had PhD people, we've had masters of public policy, masters of public administration, political science, economics, business lawyers, gym teachers. The woman who used to be a gym teacher was fantastic because she knew how to command attention from people who have a lot of things going on and may have been a little distracted. And so that clear and effective communication in different medium has been really valuable.
In our work we do written, oral presentations, data analysis data, all sorts of different things. And so just finding that right way to get the message across at the staff level is important just like it is at the member level. I do think that some quantitative skills can help distinguish you a little bit. I think everybody, if you're in your discipline, ought to look at what CLANT CAS are available or find a good statistic course to take as one of your electives may not be calculating yourselves, but then it just puts in your mind a framework of how to think about issues. And when you're trying to bring data to bear on public policy problems, that can be a real help.
[00:23:05] Speaker B: Your industry, probably more than almost any other that I can think of, requires the thickest of stin. How do you handle criticism from ultimately you don't have just one boss. You have many bosses because your boss is your constituency. So how do you handle that? And what recommendations can you share with scholars to help deal with criticism and pull feedback in a positive way to help themselves grow as individuals and professionals?
[00:23:35] Speaker C: The God's honest truth is you have to learn how to filter out as much of the noise as possible. I kind of look at almost everything we do, including dealing with criticism, like an old fashioned word problem in math class where the teacher will throw a whole bunch of extraneous stuff in the word problem that is completely and utterly irrelevant to being able to solve the question at hand and filtering out. Criticism is no different. If I go on Facebook, which I don't. It's stupid. But if I go on Facebook and I read every comment about it's, not only is it going to be really negative, but the stuff that's really positive is also, frankly, in many ways just as dangerous. I've seen politicians that believe all of their positive comments and then therefore think that they're slated for greatness in this world. And really you're a state rep like everybody else. So you have to be able to filter out the positive and the negative stuff that is completely and totally irrelevant to your day to day work, to your operations, to serving your constituency.
And the first step is knowing what criticism is meaningful and which is just background noise. And I'd say 85% of it is background noise, at least that I've experienced. Once you realize and kind of set up that filter, you put the junk aside again, the positive and negative junk aside, and you really focus on the stuff that you want to reflect on and think about. I don't really care what people think of me. I care about how people think I'm doing my job. And so there is a tough skin element to it. But really I look at it a different way again, I look at it as a filtration system. You just have to flush the stuff that's garbage and not take yourself too seriously at the same time. Those are kind of the two biggest tricks. And then I guess lastly, you have to figure out how to shut it off. You have to find those things in this world that you can turn to, first of all people, the human relations in your life, your family, your friends, but also those things that are just quiet or at least allow you to distract or go away somewhere. So whether for me, it's riding my bike or hopping I have a boat and hopping on my boat, or if it's playing my guitar loudly but poorly, if it's cooking, any of those things that those real life things matter. It gives you a chance to take a breath, step away from it all and kind of not get too heated up over criticism again. And hopefully you're only worrying about that 15% that actually matters.
[00:26:31] Speaker D: Yeah. And the other thing I would just add is sometimes the most stressful circumstances are when you get a constituent calling in who's just having a very difficult time with whatever the issue may be.
I think providing respect goes a long way to diffusing some of those tensions and just people want to be heard out sometimes.
Ultimately, we want to try and help them and solve whatever their problem is. That may be. But even if we can't do that, just making sure that we're being careful about others and how they're feeling and providing that respect, it just goes a long way.
[00:27:12] Speaker C: Yeah, I think Eric brings up a really important point there which know, and much of this conversation today has sort of been on the Harrisburg side of the job, but for many legislators, in fact, I'd argue the majority of legislators, we focus far more on what's happening in our hometown.
I often say I was never elected to represent Harrisburg. I was elected to represent have. Again, I have an ideology that I fundamentally believe and I have things that I care about. But at the end of the day, my job is to get up every day and go to work and try to make my hometown a better place.
And that looks differently for different members, that looks differently for different communities in government. You have to celebrate the small victories. It is never to quote Sarah Palin again, and I mean that never to quote Sarah Palin again. But the Hopey Changy stuff doesn't come along all that very much. And what does come along is how in your day to day interactions with your constituents, are you able to make their lives just a little bit better. When people come through our district offices, they have nowhere else to turn.
They don't have a network that's able to help them address whatever problem is they're there in the moment, we are their.
So, you know, to Eric's absolute point, to his absolute credit, you have to take people at face value. You have to show them the respect and dignity that everybody who's having a bad day deserves. You need to give them a little bit of space and at the end of the day, you need to give them your very best effort. It that's the good stuff of this job.
That really is the part of this job that keeps a lot of us going, a lot of staff going, and certainly kept me going when I was staff and as a member. When you and your team are able to make somebody's life a little bit better one day, we can do that. We can walk and chew gum at the same time while we're working on the big policy initiatives that face the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania. And all of it matters. All of it is important. All of it, again, makes the stupid stuff on Facebook or Twitter, you recognize it as noise and not what actually matters in this job.
[00:29:26] Speaker B: I think that's great insight and I think you can translate that to a lot of industries, especially the point about treating everybody with respect. The golden rule comes to mind and I think that transcends any. Kind of religious background that might stem from now. Last heavy question. Can you both and maybe eric, we'll start with you. What has been your biggest success to date, that you're most proud of? And also what's been your biggest learning moment and what you took from that.
[00:29:54] Speaker D: I think the biggest success for me has being able to be a part of some teams that have written some big legislation. And it's really satisfying to be able to see something that you worked really hard on come to fruition, that you think is going to help people. As I become more senior within our office, I'm also able to help mentor new analysts and staff. And that was so critical to me when I first started. I was benefited tremendously from the expertise and wisdom of some really great people who taught me how it should be done. And I want to try and pass that on. The biggest learning moment for me was actually my second day on the job, which was when a bunch of staff in the legislature were indicted as part of a huge investigation into whether campaign work had been done on the clock and if public resources were illegally used for campaigns. Our specific office wasn't affected anyway. But here I am, the second day on the job, age 22, watching coworkers squint at the TV screen, trying to make out who was on the poster behind the attorney General giving the press conference. And I thought to myself, have I made a huge mistake here? And do. I need to quit this job right now.
I didn't quit, but it did make a huge impression on me. And it was in this way. I think we should all actively think about the ethical dimensions of what we're doing and not just go along with the crowd. Because it is the institutional culture.
It is legal to be involved in political campaigns if you're a staffer. But it has to be completely separate and entirely on your own time and for your own resources. And there's a line that a lot of people do ethically walk. And many people can do it. Pete's. One of them. And as an elected official, trying to balance those things and juggle schedules and everything, it can be challenging, but it's super critically important for me. The best thing to do was kind of swear it off completely. And so I don't get involved in any state level campaigns, even though I have opinions about this sort of thing. And the other larger point is the only way to have ethical, responsible organizations is to have ethical and responsible people in your organizations. And you have to also build a culture that instills those values and keeps them central. And it can start with your actions, but it needs to grow beyond that. I would encourage anybody when they're interviewing for jobs, no matter where it is, to ask specific, pointed questions about the values and the challenges facing that organization. So you can decide whether or not it's a place that you want to be and a place where you think you can do your job well.
[00:32:30] Speaker C: Yeah. Okay. So I was laughing when Eric was telling that story because I was also a staff member at that point in time. I didn't realize that was your second day on the job, Eric, so congratulations.
Yeah, I imagine it was.
Anyway, I'll leave those stories for another day. So in terms of success, success, like I said earlier, takes a number of different forms in this job. You can pass a bill, you can get a big appropriations, you can work with your colleagues, and all of that is true.
But as a member of the minority party, the ODS that you're going to be able to pass a bill are significantly diminished to the point where it's almost impossible. I think something like 7% of bills that get passed in the House are from the minority party. And so you have to find new and creative ways to make an impact on your community or else you're just not trying hard enough, you're just not doing your job. And so I was in an appropriations hearing, and I'm sure Eric will remember this, because I've had a few choice words for some of the leaders of this, but we were with the state system of higher education schools, so the bloomsburgs, the cuts, downs of the world.
And I'm a first generation college student. My father actually didn't finish high school. My mom did one year of nursing school and dropped out to marry dad.
College education is very important to me. It's how we break a poverty, a cycle of poverty.
And my district also happens to be about 80% people of color. And so thumbing through the documents that the state system schools were giving us, and I noticed that the minority enrollment or the enrollment of students that are black or brown was I don't remember what the numbers are anymore, but that time pathetically low. And this is in spite of the fact that one of the colleges is a historically black college. And when I asked the question of them, the answer was, well, we have to really try to create a sense of a college experience, a college sense, a history of education that where one doesn't exist. Frankly, I thought the answer was just gross and off putting. I challenged Pashi and was able to get one of the universities to commit to having to increasing their enrollment from the Allentown School District, a school district that is 90% African American and Latino, and streamline the process and create some special funds and some special opportunities for kids in Allentown to get a college education. And it was a really proud moment, and it was really for me, it was making a stink kind of being a very aggressive, some would say borderlining, something far worse than aggressive to the chancellor. But the result of which was that a bunch of kids that I'm never going to meet are going to have a chance to go to college in an affordable setting not all that far from home. And they are going to help that opportunity is going to help them break the cycle of poverty, just like education did for me. So again, kids that I'm never going to meet are going to be able to go to school. And that was a really cool moment where we were able to pull that off. In terms of a learning moment for me, there are no shortage of 8 million different learning opportunities that were disappointments for me. But honestly, I think one of the first, maybe not one of the first, but one of the most important was my last reelection. I won my primary by all of 54 53 votes.
I won my primary, very slim margins, and to a person who never ran for office before and all the credit in the world to her, she ran hard. However, in the aftermath of the campaign, she leveled a lot of criticism on the vote counting and things like that. It was extraordinarily difficult for me not to argue back, but the number of, frankly, other grown ups in the room that reminded me that we won let it go. She could be a sore loser all she wants, and you just have to stay above it. Even though it didn't feel good in the moment was absolutely the right advice that I got from a lot of people. And as a result, to this day, by keeping my wits about me and having really good people around me, helping me keep my wits about me, I didn't say or do anything that would have put me in a bad spot. And so a very tough moment turned into a very important moment for me, because in spite of the fact that I was disappointed in the election results, I frankly thought I should have won significantly higher. Although I don't know any politician who thinks they should win by less than they actually did, it turned out to be a strong positive. Again, I kind of grew as a person in that moment. I developed a little bit more patience, I developed a little bit more tolerance and a little bit more perspective on things.
[00:37:39] Speaker B: Now, if a scholar wanted to reach out to either one of you to pick your brain a little bit further and dive deeper on the different career paths that you've taken to serve the constituencies that you do in your hometown in Harrisburg, how can they reach out to you?
[00:37:57] Speaker C: Well, we're not getting the ice cream question. I thought up all day about the ice cream question.
[00:38:01] Speaker B: That is the very last okay, I'm.
[00:38:02] Speaker C: Sorry I stepped on your podcast. For me, as much as I hate Facebook and kind of lamented it a bunch of times I kind of do love Twitter, so I am at Peter underscore Schweier. Folks can also always email me on my Direct email. This is a government email, so no politics here. If somebody would shoot me a message about politics, I would forward it to an appropriate spot. We do follow those ethics rules very closely. But my state email is P, as in Peter, S-C-H-W-E-Y-E-R so [email protected]
[00:38:41] Speaker D: Can also get a hold of me via email. E dice [email protected]
I also want to plug something that's a really great opportunity. The house has a paid internship program. The Pennsylvania House Fellowship. The fellows are placed in either a leadership office or a high ranking committee chairman's office.
I know that we've had some of these students come and work with us. We put them to work doing the real thing right away and leaned on them to do our jobs. And I can think of several people that I know who are now working in very high level capacities across the state who came out of that fellowship program. And so I say check it out. If you're interested at all, there's more information at WW pahousfellowship us.
I know that legislative caucuses also have interns too, from time to time, sometimes in district offices. Pete, I don't know if you have any details about that.
[00:39:42] Speaker C: We offer paid internships, one paid internship in the summer for anybody enrolled in college. So if you graduated from high school and are entering your freshman year, we can offer that to you as well.
And that is at least for our caucus, speaking only for our caucus, that opportunity is afforded to every member. Now, I personally will accept additional interns for fall or spring semesters. I just can't pay them for that. We only get one a year.
[00:40:13] Speaker B: Those sound like great opportunities. So depending on when you're listening to this, that may have already passed, but there may be one for the next year forward, so be sure to check those out if that is of interest. And be sure to reach out to Pete and or Eric to learn more. Now is the ice cream question, as you mentioned earlier, Pete. So, Eric, I'll start with you, and then, Pete, I'll let you have the last word. Eric, if you were a flavor of Berkeley creamery ice cream, which would you be? And most importantly, as a scholar, alum, why that flavor?
[00:40:41] Speaker D: So let's just approach this from our sort of like, government interaction perspective. I'm going to go with peppermint stick. So it's seasonal. Maybe you don't have to come and talk with your government officials or talk to the legislature all the time, but hopefully when you do periodically, it'll be a good experience, and we hope that we can provide that to you. So we'll go peppermint stick.
[00:41:07] Speaker C: I was judging you so hard on that. I'm not going to lie. I was really excited that you went first because I wanted to hear your answer. So like a good politician, I'm going to give you two answers. Number one, the best flavor. And at me all you want, don't care is strawberry.
[00:41:24] Speaker D: Period.
[00:41:24] Speaker C: Full stop. Classic. Strawberry is the best flavor at the creamery. And I will argue until I'm blue in the face about this. And try me because I've gotten hot dog wars in Allentown. I could tell you the only places that matter for hot dogs in the city of Allentown. So I have very strong opinions about this. Strawberry is the best flavor, but the one to be. And I'm going to dance on some thin ice here given the lineage of this one. But I was nicknamed by a bunch of my kids. I have two daughters. My kids and their friends nicknamed me Peach Schweier. They couldn't separate Pete and Schweier, so they thought my name was actually Know, because you can never knock the brand. I'd be peach schweier ice cream. I mean, I even gave you a, you know, you got everything you'd expect from a politician, a strong opinion on absolutely nothing that matters, two answers and a branding opportunity all at once.
[00:42:23] Speaker B: I appreciate that you had some really strong answers. I've not heard any of those flavors before on this podcast, so I appreciate getting some fresh flavors there.
[00:42:31] Speaker C: Alumni, swirl, whatever. Come on, be more creative.
[00:42:36] Speaker B: Well, I'll let you take that up with some of our previous guests, which that is a very popular answer.
I also appreciate the candor. I know you don't always get that from politicians and those who work in the government space. So I really appreciate your just very direct and clear answers to the questions that I had for you today on behalf of our Shire scholars. Eric, Pete, really appreciate you coming on today. Thank you so much.
[00:43:00] Speaker D: Thanks, Sean.
[00:43:01] Speaker C: Absolutely my pleasure. Thank you.
[00:43:09] Speaker A: Thank you, scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Shrier Honors College Emergency Fund benefiting scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at raise. psu.edu forward slash Shrier. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the Gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at psu.edu. Until next time, please stay well. And we are.