Washington study abroad offers its students unique experiences

Students in last semester’s Washington program enjoy its unique and valuable experiences. (credit: Courtesy of Alisa Deychman) Students in last semester’s Washington program enjoy its unique and valuable experiences. (credit: Courtesy of Alisa Deychman)

As a new selection of students prepares to study in the nation’s capital, the Washington Semester Program (WSP) is in the midst of evolving its traditional programs as well as maintaining successful staples, such as an invaluable internship experience. Ten students will travel to Washington, D.C. this semester just as four students from the fall 2010 semester will reintegrate into campus. This is a record number for the program, sponsored by the Center for International Relations and Politics. In addition to the increased participation, there have been other transitions. Emily Half, the academic adviser for the Global Studies and International Relations and Politics majors and former Study Abroad adviser, will handle the advising for the WSP. Students attend either Georgetown University, American University, or a separate program called the Fund for American Studies (FAS) through Georgetown University.

Students attending the FAS program pay tuition directly to FAS for the semester. Similar to American University, Georgetown University now has a consortium agreement in place with Carnegie Mellon so that any financial aid can transfer between the two institutions. In addition to traditional financial aid, the Friedman Fellowship provides an opportunity to further reduce costs by up to $3,000 through an application due March 1, 2011. In accordance with the standards of Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon’s preferred partner campus for its students, the suggested QPA requirement has been raised to 3.0, although lower QPAs can still be accepted based upon letters of recommendation.

Through four focuses in American Politics and Public Affairs, International Affairs, Law and Society, and Religion and Politics, Georgetown University offers an integrated experience of classes and internship work three days per week. To find an internship, students work alongside an adviser to help them find a job aligned to their individual interests. The FAS offers Public Policy and Political Journalism tracks while American University provides ten tracks ranging from Peace and Conflict Resolution to Global Economics and Businesses. Apart from the academic component, the internship has proven to be a valuable source of experience and future contacts. “Experience is really important in today’s global economy to get a job: It is not just the academic background but also practical application through internships that matters,” Half said.

The four returning students certainly gained practical experience through their broad spectrum of opportunities. Brice Relaford, a junior Ethics, History, and Public Policy major, interned in the International Affairs and Foreign Policy Office of the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. “The Washington Semester will probably end up being the best semester you experience as an undergraduate. It will provide you with so much more than you think. It helps to shape you academically, professionally, and personally,” Relaford said. “It gave me tremendous insight and perspective as to what I want out of my EHPP major, and how I can go about achieving my academic and career goals.”

Alisa Deychman, a junior in the Science and Humanities Scholar program, worked for the Booz Allen Hamilton Consulting Group in D.C. Her first project involved studying the projected nuclear economy for 2016 to 2020 for the Office of Nuclear Proliferation and International Security, a subdivision of the Department of Energy. “There is only so much to learn in a classroom, and so I had to expand, network, and meet the people that I will be working with in the future,” Deychman said. Also interning in a field of her interest, junior Ethics, History, and Public Policy major Nancy Brown worked for the National Academy of Social Insurance, a policy think-tank that researches policy issues of social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Her advice to students going to D.C. was “Washington, D.C. is what you make of it. There are lots of different people there and a lot of different things to do, so take advantage of it, especially since a lot of them are free or inexpensive.”

To encourage interest in the program, the Center for International Programs is hosting three information sessions on Jan. 27, Feb. 9, and Feb. 22 in Baker Hall 154R from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. During the Feb. 22 visit, a representative from Georgetown University will be available to answer questions firsthand. Applications are due on March 1 to Emily Half, and decisions will be released on March 15. Before considering the program, students are encouraged to speak with Half and their primary advisers about how courses can count as credit toward their major. The program is open to students in all departments on campus.

The ten students participating in the program will include Srujana Penumetcha (U.S. Global Leadership Coalition), Peter Hendrickson (Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation in the Office of Missile, Biological, and Chemical Nonproliferation), Celete Kato (Command Consulting Group), Emily Baddock (The Daily Caller), Carmen Easterwood (Millennium Challenge Project as a Private Sector Development Intern), Kimberly Miller, Billy Joraskie (Republican National Committee National Affairs Division), Jong-Min Sung (Counsel for Court Excellence), Victoria Velazquez, and Minseung Kwag (intern for Congressman Gerry Connolly (D–Va.)).