By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN When Meagan Donahue graduated from Watertown-Mayer High School in 2009, her plan was to study psychology and communication disorders in college.
Little did she know, a class at Minnesota State University called “Introduction to the City” would later change all that.
“It was just super interesting,” recalled Donahue, the daughter of John and Michelle Donahue of Mayer. “I talked to my professor outside of class, and also got to know the chair of the department. They were really passionate about it.”
Donahue was inspired to learn more, and 1.5 years ago, she changed her major to Urban and Regional Studies.
“Now, I have almost a 4.0 within my major,” she said, explaining that since she is fascinated by her classes, it’s easier for her to do well.
Donahue is also happy about her summer internship with the city of Winsted, which was approved at the May 7 city council meeting.
Since mid-May, she’s been working about 35 hours per week, which will count for college credit.
“We’re excited to have her on board; she’s done a great job so far,” City Administrator Brad Martens said.
A few of the projects Donahue will assist with include:
• researching and drafting a sign ordinance;
• researching information for the Downtown Vibrancy Commission;
• planning a bike route connecting the Luce Line State Trail to downtown Winsted; and
• planning and design work for the lighted skating rink.
“These are the exact things I wanted to help with,” Donahue said, adding that the internship will also give her a head start for a downtown revitalization class she’s taking in the fall.
Donahue isn’t requesting compensation for her work as an intern, but the city council plans to review her work in the future, and consider issuing a small stipend.
In addition, the council approved adding Donahue to the list of people to utilize as a part-time temporary administrative assistant at $10 per hour. Martens said this is not an extra cost to the city, because other people also serve as assistants from time to time.
“This would give us one more person to go to in times of need,” he said, adding that the majority of Donahue’s work will be related to her internship.
Donahue is on track to earn her undergraduate degree in Urban and Regional Studies in the spring of 2014. Then, she plans to pursue her graduate degree and start a career working for a city.
“At first, I was thinking I’d like to be a city planner, but since then, I’ve had a few guest speakers at my classes, and they were all city administrators,” Donahue said. “After hearing about what they do, I think that would be even better.”
Donahue is a fan of Winsted, and is especially looking forward to this weekend’s festivities.
“I’m super into Winstock,” she said. “For my family, it’s the greatest event of the year.”
Two of Donahue’s other hobbies include volunteering to walk dogs at the Animal Humane Society, and taking care of four fish tanks in her apartment in Mankato.
This summer, she’s also working full time (evenings and weekends) at Hazeltine Golf course in Chaska. Although it can be busy balancing a job and internship, Donahue is grateful for the opportunity.
“I know it will be a really good experience,” she said. “I really love the area, and I want to have a part in the planning.”