Student Life Spotlight: Andrea Rice

In order to learn about what our students think about their time in DC, we like to hear directly from them. Andrea Rice, a student from Westmont College, is currently interning at the Center for Public Justice.Andrea headshotThe American Studies Program has provided an amazing opportunity for me to live, work, learn, and develop community in Washington D.C. Before I arrived, I was excited but still nervous, and had endless questions. What would this semester bring? Would I like my internship, would I make friends, would I be successful? I was worried about my transition into D.C., and how I would create a community in such an unfamiliar place. I was intimidated to come to a city filled with so much action, and was not sure exactly where to begin in making sure my semester was successful. However, ASP equipped me for the best semester possible, with an amazing group of people who made my experience so memorable. If you are worried about transitioning into Washington D.C., trust that there are plenty of resources through ASP, and people who are excited to help you thrive not only in this city, but in your future as well.

The first day I arrived at the Dellenback Center for move in day, I knew I had made the right choice in coming to D.C. The program leaders were so helpful in making everyone feel comfortable in their new home. Located on Capitol Hill, our apartments are a perfect location to experience the diversity of D.C. life. Almost immediately this place became home for not just myself, but for my roommates as well. The Dellenback Center provides such a unique, safe place for students to have fun or relax with one another after a day at work. I soon recognized I could do really well in D.C., whether that be in my classes, internship, or relationships.

The ASP community is so special, and were there for me every step of the way. The first few weeks, we were all so nervous about starting our internships, but soon realized that D.C. was full of interns just like us. We quickly developed a close community, and explored our new city together. ASP’s community development engaged me in all areas of D.C. life, so I felt more prepared to explore everything this city had to offer, especially in learning how to navigate the Metro!

My experience in Washington D.C. has completely exceeded my expectations, and I am thrilled to take this experience home with me. I grew in tremendous ways through my classes, spirituality, and professional development. I am so thankful for the people I met, and long term relationships I have built as a result of diving into the beautiful community here. This semester, I learned you do not have to know exactly what you want to do, or if D.C. is for you. You simply just have to be. Let this experience in D.C. shape you, and step into the doors God has opened. I promise you will not regret it.

Internship Spotlight: Rebekah Choi

In order to learn about what our students think about their internships, we like to hear directly from them. Rebekah Choi, a student from Gordon College, is currently interning at TUSK Digital, a DC-based marketing firm.

Rebekah Choi digital advertising firm internship
Rebekah’s internship allows her to work in one of DC’s many coworking spaces.

I entered ASP as a senior (double-majoring in Sociology and Communication Arts at Gordon College) thinking that my marketing agency internship was well-aligned with the road I might consider taking after graduation. The one question I had coming in was whether I wanted to choose a career in academia (involving going to grad school to further my studies in Communication) or a career in more of an applied approach to my communications degree — which, I thought, was going to be marketing. But on our weekly field visits with my fellow Strategic Communication classmates, we met communication professionals in all different types of industries ranging from journalism at the Washington Post to nonprofit advocacy at the ONE Campaign.  These perspectives broadened my perception of the many different paths one can take as a communication major.

Furthermore, having the chance to intern for an entire semester, Monday through Thursday, has helped me realize that working at a marketing agency might actually not be my most preferred career path. The dilemma between grad school vs. marketing has been replaced by many more questions upon realizing that there are so many more options out there for a Sociology and Communication Arts double major! ASP provided rich opportunities and connections for me to learn more about how my studies might translate into a career and to further explore my interests and passions. I may be leaving with more questions than when I entered, but I am happy with them because I now know what to ask — questions such as:

  • How do I see my majors contributing to the kind of career I want — rather than wondering what sort of career my majors limit me to?
  • What type of work environment do I thrive best in, and what kind of work-life balance do I seek?
  • Who can I connect with to learn a realistic understanding of a career path I am interested in?
  • And, as always, how do I see it all contributing to the holistic narrative of shalom?

The experiential learning approach ASP has provided — living, working, walking, grocery shopping, breathing, and thriving in the fascinating and complex city of Washington D.C. — has been monumental to my undergraduate experience. Learn more about ASP if you’re looking to approach what you learn in the classroom  in a beautifully messy, nuanced real-world setting.

Student Life: Finding a Church in DC

In this post we hear directly from ASP student Peyton Smetana.  He describes what it’s like to be new in the city, as well as what it’s like to look for and find a church home.  

peyton-ccc-e1544387531470.jpgIf you are anything like me, and there is the chance there are a few of you out there, you are currently in an odd place in your faith. On top of that, you are looking at the American Studies Program, a semester-long program based on conversations on the intersection of faith and politics. What could be better than learning about faith in politics in a time where you are uncertain of your own religious beliefs? Uhhhh…I really wasn’t sure. After arriving in DC, I didn’t feel ready to engage in church along with the intense conversations we already had during the week at ASP.

There were many things I was not certain about coming into my semester in the American Studies Program: who my friends were going to be, where I will go out for dinner, will I meet the love of my life, and will my political beliefs change? Out of all the uncertainty, I was certain about one thing: I was not going to church.

Certainly God had a different plan for me.

I went to church the first weekend I was in DC, and it was the first time I attended in months. The first weekend I went to church in DC was not to listen to the pastor, but rather an attempt to get to know my newly found friends from the program on a more personal level. It was the next weekend, with the same motive as the first, where God’s plan began.

I know it’s cliché to say it felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me, but it did, and for the next few weeks it continued to feel as if every sermon were meant only for my ears.

Christ City Church offered me a place of restoration and community each week. At the end of a hectic week of work, school, and trying to see and do as many things as possible in this city, Christ City gave me an opportunity to reflect, relax, and rejoice in the blessings and sovereignty of God.

It also provided a place to meet and learn from people of the widest array economically, culturally, and politically. Through the wide swath of prominent differences, the common thread of loving Christ is what continued to catch my eye and rope me in.

Reconciling a relationship with God can be scary, but finding a place to safely grow at your own pace makes all the difference. If you are new to the American Studies Program, or Washington, DC in general, find a church community that reflects the type of person you want to be. You truly will not regret it.

Internship Spotlight: Ellie Murphy

In order to learn about what our students think about their internships, we like to hear directly from them. Gabrielle Murphy, a student from Olivet Nazarene University, is currently interning on Capitol Hill in a Congresswoman’s office.

Ellie Headshot
Ellie’s office asked her to attend an event at the Supreme Court.

Where are you currently interning and what is the day to day like in the office?

I have the privilege of interning in the office of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. Each day is different is the office, but it is always exciting! When Congress is in session, one can expect to go from briefings to collecting signatures from other Representatives to delivering paperwork to the cloakroom, or even sitting in on hearings for the Ways and Means Committee. When Congress is in recess, one can expect to be communicating with constituents and preforming policy research. 

What has surprised you about working on the Hill?

I was definitely not expecting such a sense of community on the Hill. Oftentimes, D.C. is depicted as overly competitive. But there is a feeling of inclusiveness within my office, and you feel as though you are a part of a little family. I learned quickly that the Hill is a very small place, and you will get to know many individuals from various sectors of the legislative branch during your time here. The Hill also has a strong Christian presence with plenty of Bible studies and briefings that tackle how faith and policy intersect. 

What would you want future ASP students to know before they arrive in D.C.?

Prior to coming to D.C., students should know they will be challenged professionally, spiritually, and emotionally. This time is unlike a typical college semester. You are learning firsthand what it means to live on your own, but with the benefits of being in a community. This will be the most transformative semester of your college career, and will help you to answer some of the deeper questions of your identity and vocational goals that are sure to surface. Develop meaningful relationships both at the Dellenback and at your internship, explore everything the city has to offer, and know that you are not here by accident!

ASP Welcomes Our Fall 2018 Cohort

We are having a blast with our Fall 2018 group of students.  This semester, students from all over the country have joined us here in Washington, DC for the Public Policy course as well as intensive internships.  Students will intern at law firms, Capitol Hill Senate and Congressional offices, think tanks, nonprofits, and even the Department of Justice.


Over the past two weeks, our ASP staff have worked to build a firm foundation for the students before they begin their internships around the city.  To strengthen the students’ knowledge of the city, the group explored DC on foot, by bus, by bike, and by Metro to put into practice the information from their orientation sessions (“stand on the right, walk on the left!”).  Here we are on the way to Eastern Market to catch the bus!

After a day of discussions about the importance of investing in the city, especially the difference between federal Washington and the city of D.C., the students took in a free concert overlooking the Anacostia River in the bustling new neighborhood of Navy Yard.  We were lucky to get to see the U.S. Navy Band’s Country Current on such a beautiful evening.


And last but not at all least, students took professional head shots for their new LinkedIn profiles.  Orientation emphasizes the importance of establishing personal relationships as part of the networking process.  Online networking is also so important, and the students’ profiles are ready to wow everyone who looks them up in the future.  Stay tuned to learn about the students’ internships and how much they will learn here in the nation’s capital.


Internship Spotlight II: Spring 2018

Sophia Jimenez, Azusa Pacific UniversitySophia Jimenez, internship

I am interning for Congresswoman Mimi Walters (CA-45). She is a rising political figure, and so it has been a great experience to be around the fast-paced environment of her office. During my time here, the Congresswoman has created an amendment to a bill (the Walters Amendment) that will help the victims of online sex trafficking receive restitution. The amendment has been applauded by human rights organizations for the protection that it will provide victims, namely young girls who have been manipulated into trafficking online. I am honored to be part of an office that pursues justice and prosecutes its offenders.

Interning on the Hill has allowed me to be in the middle of all the political action. As an intern, you are able to attend congressional briefings with some of the most influential senators and representatives. These experiences have helped me to stay in-the-know about the most pressing issues at home and abroad. I was surprised at the amount of access that an intern receives in the Capitol building and the House and Senate buildings. Interns are granted authorization into nearly every office, providing a direct connection to some of the most powerful offices in the country.


Kuriakos Pyros, Southeastern University

Kurk Pyros, internshipThe American Studies Program has provided an excellent opportunity for me to gain real world experience, and I’ve greatly enjoyed my time as the K-12 Education Intern at the Philanthropy Roundtable (TPR). As a non-profit advocacy organization, TPR helps philanthropists find productive and effective methods for educational improvement donations. I’ve completed research on over 100 donors in the philanthropic space to provide demographic and personal backgrounds. My research has been used in context of a national forum in Memphis, Tennessee where over 150 TPR members gathered to discuss the next steps in educational philanthropic giving.

Lessons that I’ve learned from these experiences are not only applicable in my future career, but also apply to my personal and relational development. Research has taught me to manage my time well and to develop an effective work ethic. I think I’ve learned a lot from simply being in the professional work space, which is something I couldn’t learn in a classroom. Workplace culture and interactions were a big learning curve for me in the beginning of the semester, and I’m grateful for the support from ASP and the feedback from my supervisors who have helped me grow as an intern and a person.


Cameron Walker, Olivet Nazarene UniversityCameron Walker, internship

During my time in DC with the American Studies Program, I have had the privilege of interning at the Washington National Cathedral, in the Department of Cathedral Programming. My time thus far has included planning special events for Black History Month, working with the Cathedral’s Veterans Ministry, and running a week-long series of programming that we call Seeing Deeper. In my work, I have also had the distinct honor of meeting renowned authors and speakers, including Brené Brown and Senator John Lewis. It has been both daunting and thrilling to work in a place that is known as a “Spiritual Home for the Nation,” especially as we planned a sold-out vigil the night before the “March for Our Lives” in Washington.

While I get to work in the sixth largest cathedral in the world, I am also proud to call the Cathedral my home church here in DC. Nothing has been more special than attending a noon service during my lunch break and then evensong every day after work. My supervisor recently reminded us in a staff meeting that the work we are doing is for the Kingdom of God, as every employee is helping the Cathedral family to work as the hands and feet of Jesus. As my time at the Cathedral becomes shorter and shorter, I am reminded of how blessed I have been to spend this semester working for this “House of Prayer for All People.”  I will be forever grateful for this experience, interning in one of the holiest places I have ever encountered.


Want to have your own DC internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Internship Spotlight I: Spring 2018

Andrew Currier, Malone University

Andrew Currier, Habitat for HumanityI am interning at Habitat for Humanity International as a Global Advocacy Intern. The work I do revolves around advocacy on a global scale. We are working on guaranteeing land rights to people around the world who are in need of affordable housing. The first step in getting this housing is changing the policies and laws in place that prevent the poor— and specifically poor women— from accessing this basic right.

My office is great! We just had our annual Habitat on the Hill conference this past week, where we hosted Habitat for Humanity affiliates and state organizations from around the country to lobby for adequate housing funding and legislation. I met with Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) and Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-4). Supporting the staff in holding this conference helped to orient me in my new position and feel like an integral member of the office! I’ve learned how many different pieces actually go into housing legislation that will make decent housing for everyone a reality!


Erin Harrison, Southern Wesleyan University

Erin Harrison, Rep. Duncan

I have had the honor of interning with Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-3). As a South Carolina native, the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill with my local representative has given me firsthand insight into the legislative process. My responsibilities vary from answering phone calls, to offering Capitol tours, attending hearings and briefings, and even conducting research for legislative staffers. One of my fondest and greatest experiences so far has been attending the Air Force Readiness Posture hearing for the House Armed Services Committee. I was able to listen to some of the Air Force’s highest-ranking leaders as they discussed what has been or needs to be done to ensure that our military is ready and capable for any threat or obstacle. As a member of a military family, this opportunity was quite special for me.

Perhaps the greatest lesson that I have learned in this first month at work has been the lesson of the little things. As an intern, many tasks seem mundane and repetitive. But through my work, I have learned that exceeding expectations in these mundane and repetitive tasks is what makes the important tasks more exciting and also makes me stand out as an intern. A willingness to do well and follow directions in the small tasks proves to the office— and everyone else watching on the Hill— that I am serious about serving the residents of my home district and that I am not taking my time here for granted. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my internship holds!


Samuel Tsuma, Oral Roberts University

Samuel Tsuma, CAIR

This semester, I am interning with the Capitol Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, a non-profit organization that provides support to immigrants who are detained and are in the process of the deportation hearings. Most of my day-to-day interaction is with the legal assistants in the Detained Adult Program (DAP), which is one of the two programs that CAIR runs to provide legal assistance to detainees held at detention centers in Maryland and Virginia. My other duties include helping the staff attorneys and legal assistants to meet their deadlines for filing at the immigration court.

I am excited to be interning at the CAIR Coalition because the staff is very welcoming and supportive, and they have invited me to take on more responsibilities as time progresses. My internship provides me with the opportunity to interact with real people who are seeking relief from deportation by applying for asylum. On a recent jail visit to the Howard County Detention Center, I had the privilege of interviewing some of the detainees as well as provide information from their attorneys as a volunteer. Unlike in the criminal court system, immigration detainees who are in deportation proceedings do not have the constitutional right to a public defender. Therefore, the CAIR Coalition plays a significant role in ensuring justice in the system by assisting the detainees in understanding their cases and so that they can better address the charges raised against them in court.


Want to have your own DC internship experience? Click here to start an application!

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things: Spring 2018

The ASP Class of Spring 2018 has been in Washington, DC for just over two weeks. In that short amount of time– in addition to orientation and coursework– we have visited museums, toured the monuments at night, cheered on the Washington Wizards at a NBA game, volunteered with an after-school ministry, and have become experienced Metro riders.

Here are just a few of our favorite things about our time in DC so far:

The City of Washington

  1. “I love that wherever you go, the neighborhoods have a different feel. You can hop on the Metro, get off two stops later, and be in a completely different and unique neighborhood.” -Andrew Currier, Malone University
  2. “My favorite thing about DC is the history that is found in most of the buildings here. I love living in a place where major historical events have happened and are continuing to happen.” -Sophia Jimenez, Azusa Pacific University
  3. “I love running and seeing the beautiful, easy-to-navigate city. So far, I’ve seen 51 dogs on my runs! How life giving!” -Emiko Macaluso, Gordon College
  4. “Washington, DC is a very friendly area. I was surprised to find that it doesn’t have a big city feel. The atmosphere is welcoming.” -Shanell Nieuwendorp, Northwestern College


We’re Going Places

  1. “The different forms of transportation are quite interesting; using a bus, Metro, and bikes are all unique and fun ways to explore the city!” -Kurk Pyros, Southeastern University
  2. “The Dellenback Center [where we live] is located in the heart of the city, and is walking distance to almost all of the history that is available to explore.” -Hazal Senkoyuncu, Trinity Western University
  3. “I have been surprised by how quickly we have figured out the bus system.” -Anna Strothers, Northwest University
  4. “Worshiping with 4,000 other Christians in the packed National Cathedral!” -Cameron Walker, Olivet Nazarene University
  5. “My favorite thing about DC is being so close to so many exciting places to see and experience.” -Natasha Wilson, Corban University

Inside the beautiful Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. Pro tip: This is one of the quietest locations in DC– great for studying!

Building a Community

  1. “I have been (pleasantly) surprised by how quickly fellowship and friendship have formed among the group.” -Alex Leasure, Erskine College
  2. “This program is great! I love getting to know all of the other students from so many different places.  It is excited to explore this city with them.” -Amanda Stevenson, Erskine College
  3. “This semester, I am most excited about my internship, living on my own in a new place, and connecting with other young professionals.” -Diana Gutierrez, Azusa Pacific University
  4. “I came into the program a little worried about how I only knew one other person here. But I have been pleasantly surprised at how well we have all gotten along in such a short amount of time.” -Caleb White, Malone University


Internships and Mentorships

  1. “I am looking forward to starting my internship with the office of Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO).” -Andrew Franklin, East Texas Baptist University
  2. “Some things that make me excited about DC and the program are my internship with Representative Jeff Duncan (SC), the richness of the history in this city, and how many new things there are to try!” -Erin Harrison, Southern Wesleyan University
  3. “I am excited about the chance to work with and be mentored by Christian leaders in nation’s capital.” -Chanel Odom-Jones, Trinity Christian College
  4. “What makes me excited about the American Studies Program are the opportunities to make a difference while learning from experienced professionals at our internships.” -Samuel Tsuma, Oral Roberts University

We got free t-shirts at the Washington Wizards’ game!

[L to R] Amanda Stevenson (Erskine College) and Shanell Nieuwendorp (Northwestern College) listen as Alex Leasure (Erskine College) describes his secret phrase in Fishbowl.

[L to R] Emiko Macaluso (Gordon College), Amanda Stevenson (Erskine College), Shanell Nieuwendorp (Northwestern College), and ASP Program Administrator Hannah Wasco, outside the White House.
Catching the sunset the from roof of the Dellenback Center! [L to R: Kurk Pyros (Southeastern University), Sophia Jimenez (Azusa Pacific University), Erin Harrison (Southern Wesleyan University), Cameron Walker (Olivet Nazarene University), Alex Leasure (Erskine College), and Andrew Currier (Malone University)]


Want to have your own favorite thing in DC? Click here to start an application!

Internship Spotlight II: Fall 2017

Dagoberto Acevedo, Bluefield College

Dagoberto Acevedo, Active Minds Conference
Dagoberto (right) with a fellow intern at the Active Minds National Conference.

I am interning at Active Minds, a non-profit organization that advocates for mental health awareness. I work in Speakers Bureau Department, where I assist with different outreach programs, construct a variety of visuals used by the organization, aid with any logistical work that is needed, and much more. The office environment is encouraging and welcoming, with many opportunities for the interns to interact with other department heads as well as with each other.  At my internship, I have been able to further enhance my professional skills while also gaining new ones. Besides the day-to-day office work, I have been able to represent Active Minds in Congressional briefings that revolve around mental health, participate in professional development workshops, write blogs for the website, and attend the Active Minds National Conference. I feel honored to have been given this experience, as it has pushed me to grow both professionally and spiritually. I️ have gained more appreciation for speaking for those who are too afraid to speak for themselves.


Teague Broquard, John Brown University

Teague Broquard, internship
Teague takes in a spectacular view of the city from the top of the U.S. Capitol dome.

During my semester at ASP, I have had the pleasure of interning for my U.S. Representative, Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3). As an intern on Capitol Hill, my duties vary from answering phone calls, leading Capitol tours, attending hearings and briefings, to decorating our office Christmas tree for the holiday season. I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned over the semester is the importance of listening well. When the Chief of Staff is giving me directions for a project, I need to be listening and be thinking of clarifying questions if necessary. This also carries over into answering phone calls. I’ve realized that many people just want to be heard, and when you can be that person that truly listens to their concerns, they are so thankful and you feel accomplished. I think my favorite memory from this internship was when I was able to join a VIP tour group to the top of the U.S. Capitol dome. The view was astounding and I could even see the Dellenback Center! I would encourage all future ASP students to definitely consider an internship on the Hill. It is rewarding, prestigious, and excellent training for your future professional life.


Matt Logan, John Brown University

Matt Logan, internship
Matt in the hearing room of the House Armed Services Committee.

I have the privilege of interning with the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). At HASC, I have primarily been tasked with conducting research pertaining to national defense and military policy. At times, I have been able to utilize the Library of Congress and have even had my findings used in committee meetings regarding the National Defense Authorization Act. I have also helped with hearings and briefings featuring high-ranking officials, including Secretary of Defense Mattis and King Abdullah II of Jordan. During my time with the committee, I have gained a truly unique understanding of foreign affairs, the purpose of government, and overall defense policy.

Prior to my internship, I was concerned that the polarization featured in the media would be prevalent here. I could not be more mistaken. HASC prides itself on its bipartisanship and willingness to cooperate across-the-aisle. This has been evident during my time this semester and has encouraged me to pursue good relations with everyone, even those with whom I disagree. For anyone that wants to get an inside look at Congress while working to promote national security, I would highly recommend an internship at HASC.


Want to have your own DC internship experience? Click here to start an application!

Internship Spotlight I: Fall 2017

Rebekah Mauer, Whitworth University

Rebekah Mauer internship
With previous experience in a family law practice, Rebekah was looking forward to exploring a new legal field at the DOJ’s Criminal Division.

I am excited to be interning at the Department of Justice, specifically in the Human Rights Special Prosecution (HRSP) section of the Criminal Division. As an undergraduate student, most of my tasks are researching historical events (rather than law and statutes as a legal intern would). Nonetheless, this does not make my work any less interesting!

I was worried that my job would be like your stereotypical internship– fetching coffee and doing lunch runs– it has been anything but! My tasks have varied from sitting in the Library of Congress’ reading room to conducting in depth online searches, all of which aid in the prosecution of international human rights violations.

Day to day, I speak with attorneys, historians, librarians, linguists, and specialists in fields that I did not even know existed before I started at HRSP. I have been so blessed with this opportunity and would encourage any future ASP’ers to apply!


Shelby Baumgartner, Biola University

Shelby Baumgartner internship
Shelby at a rally organized by her internship site, the Feminist Majority Foundation.

This semester, I am interning with the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), an organization focused on advocating for the empowerment of women through research and activism. My specific departments at FMF are Policy Research and Development and our Feminist Campus program, but all the interns do a little bit of everything around the office. A typical day for me at FMF includes doing research, prepping tweets for the Feminist Campus twitter, writing news stories or blog posts for the various FMF platforms, and attending rallies throughout DC.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started my internship, but it has been such a growing experience for me. FMF is an intergenerational organization– our founder has been at the forefront of the women’s rights movement since the 1960’s and she works alongside women just out of college and with mothers of school-age children. Being in an environment where I am surrounded by so many women at different points in their careers has been a very formative experience for me. Every day is a reminder that it is okay to not know exactly where I am headed, that I am figuring it out as I go, and that I am fighting for the things I believe in the process.


Ian Snively, George Fox University

Ian Snively internship
Ian is able to combine both of his passions– political science and journalism– at the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.

I am interning with the Daily Signal, the multimedia news arm of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that produces and promotes research on key policy issues. My primary daily tasks are conducting interviews and writing articles on a variety of topics, from politics to natural disasters.

In my time with the Daily Signal, I’ve not only expanded my knowledge of current political issues, but I am also growing in my understanding of public policy from a conservative perspective. I am meeting and speaking with politicians, listening to lectures from policy analysts, and fine-tuning my skills in research and writing. There are so many great learning opportunities and resources you can obtain from working at a think-tank, and there are hundreds in the city from across the political spectrum.


Want to have your own D.C. internship experience? Click here to start an application!