MURPHYSBORO — For 10 weeks this summer, Lorna Gilmore combined her passion for public policy with a work experience in the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

The Murphysboro native was one of a handful of college students from Illinois who interned in the Democrat's office.

She said she spent a great deal of her day at the Senate, taking notes on actions to give to Sen. Durbin's aides. She also conducted research about ways to make college textbooks and materials more available and affordable to college students.

Gilmore said she was able to glean information from a pilot program at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where she is a student. The program makes textbook materials available to college students, using materials that can be copied without violating copyright laws, she said. She said the Senator is quite some time away from presenting any formal updates to this bill.

One of Durbin's focuses is making college affordable, by working to ease the burden of college debt for students and finding other ways to cut their costs.

Gilmore said she was most surprised by the openness of government proceedings and workings, challenging a notion she had that government business was conducted in a more covert fashion.

The experience solidified for her that she wants to continue working in crafting and drafting public policy. She's planning to continue her studies in graduate school and also wants to return to Washington for additional work.

She is the daughter of John and Patricia Gilmore.

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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