FAIRFIELD — Local representatives will engage with Sacred Heart University students this fall through a new legislator-in-residence program.

State Sen. Tony Hwang and state Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey will spend two days on campus participating in policy forums, visiting classrooms and giving guest lectures.

The program, sponsored by Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, seeks to educate students about the state legislative process. Lesley DeNardis, the institute’s executive director, hopes the program will also inspire students to pursue public office themselves.

The legislator-in-residence program is a nonpartisan entity, with plans to include both Democrats and Republicans from the Connecticut General Assembly.

Hwang, a former state representative now serving his third term in the state senate, is excited to shed light on the reality of the political process for students.

“To be a legislator-in-residence, particularly with Sacred Heart, is an incredible opportunity to have interplay with the legislative experience and share with the school, faculty and students,” Hwang said. “It’s not what you see on TV. This gives them the evolving dynamic process, rather than the ideologic process.”

McCarthy Vahey, a former Fairfield selectman elected to the state legislature in 2014, said engaging with young people is key to shaping the next generation of citizens.

“The more we can demystify the legislative process, increase civic engagement and provide the skills needed to be effective advocates, the stronger our democracy will be,” she said.

rscharf@hearstmediact.com