Networking and Community: Fall 2014

Family Night Dinner is one of ASP’s favorite traditions.  Each Monday evening, students, staff, alumni, and guests gather for a community meal prepared by Resident Director James Kim.  It’s a great way to fellowship, catch up with alums, network–and, for students, get the one meal out of the week that they don’t have to prepare themselves! This past Monday, we were joined by several DC professionals serving as mentors this semester.  ASP’s mentorship course allows students the opportunity to build relationships with ASP’s vibrant community of alumni and friends of the program.  ASP mentors are established leaders in their respective fields with at least 7 years of professional experience and are thoughtful Christians who take seriously the ideas of vocation and calling.

2014-09-08 19.06.38

Rachel Trego [in navy] talks to ASP student Alex Hayes (Warner Pacific University). Ms. Trego currently serves as an international economist for the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Her previous work included serving as an agricultural officer with USAID and as a Habitat for Humanity construction crew leader.  Ms. Trego is mentoring Kaitlyn Stump (Malone University).

2014-09-08 19.08.01

David Alexander [second from right] speaks with several ASP and WJC students, including the student he is mentoring, Trenton Pouncy (Oral Roberts University).  Mr. Alexander has served for the past six years as Senior Attorney at the Board of Governance of the Federal Reserve System.  His practice focuses on financial regulation and the banking industry.  Prior, Mr. Alexander was employed at BOK Financial, where he handled commercial credit administration.

2014-09-08 19.11.49

Adam Kincaid spends time with Chris Rednour (Mount Vernon Nazarene University), whom he is mentoring this semester.  Mr. Kincaid is the Special Projects Director at the Republican National Committee.  He is responsible for election forecasting (turnout, vote method, outcome, etc.), polling, and targeting.

2014-09-08 19.13.57

Student Marion Githegi (Emmanuel College) [left] and ASP faculty member Gerry Hartis [right] eat dinner with guest Jared Noetzel, Evangelical Engagement Fellow at Bread for the World.

2014-09-08 19.06.58

Melissa Steffan is a Fall 2011 alumna of the Washington Journalism Center and Spring 2012 alumna of the American Studies Program! She is part of WJC’s mentoring program this semester.  Ms. Steffan works as assistant editor for start-up incubator 1776 where she creates original content about the latest trends and innovation among startups tackling regulated industries, including health, education, energy and cities.

2014-09-08 19.15.41

Dellenback Center Resident Director James Kim serves up dessert!

ASP at Acton University: Report from Gerry Hartis

logoAfter several years of getting encouragement from faculty at a number of CCCU campuses, I was finally able to attend Acton University, a three-day conference sponsored by the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, June 18-20. The University serves to advance the Institute’s mission of “promoting a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles”.

Three things about the Acton University experience are well mentioning: first, the number and quality of lectures and presentations from American academe and practitioners in business, public education, public policy, and ministry. With over a thousand economists, philosophers, and theologians attending the nearly 100 sessions, the main challenge was to decide which presentation would have to be dropped from my personal wish list.

Second, the Acton team structured the event in a way which demonstrated that widely varying theological traditions–Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (Reformed, Pentecostal, and African-American Baptist)–each have a contribution to make to the work of promoting a “free and virtuous society.”

Third, and maybe the most fun, was hanging out with the like of Tyler Castle (ASP alum now with the Value & Capitalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute) and Steve Garber (former ASP faculty now leading the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture).  Steve’s influence was evident everywhere–in conversations, presentations, books. And Tyler, well, let’s just say he’s making a strong contribution to a very important initiative. I also discovered that he is a model of grace under pressure when it comes to travel logistics and nearly-missed flights.  Grand Rapids at 4am will never be the same.

ASP at Acton

From left: Steve Garber, Tyler Castle, and Gerry Hartis

Guest Post: “Top 5 Questions I’ve Gotten Since My Return from DC” by Stephanie Grossoehme

For ASP students, life in DC is life-changing.  They navigate a city, take on adult responsibilities, grow professionally through their internships, mentorships, and track work, and ultimately discover a lot about themselves.  Adjusting to life after ASP is often harder than one might expect.  How do you answer the dreaded “So, how was it?” question? How do you explain your experience to other people when you’re still processing it yourself?

Fall 2013 alumna Stephanie Grossoehme blogs her way through some of these questions, and we are thrilled to feature a guest post (and pictures) from Stephanie as she reflects on her semester experience.

#5. Did you see Obama?

Yes, I did. I didn’t get very close. I saw him at the Mall at the 50th anniversary of MLK Jr’s Dream speech. More exciting than that was the woman who started to faint and fall back onto me. I didn’t even catch her, I just watched her fall. At first I thought she was just stepping back. Nope. She was falling. She ended up being okay though. Another time I saw President Obama was at the National Christmas Tree Lighting. It was cold and very rainy. So he didn’t hang out for very long.


Jefferson Memorial#4 So you’re done there, then?

Yes, for now. I don’t think anyone who ever goes to DC can ever fully escape it. And that’s not because Big Brother is watching you. But I’ll speak for myself and just say that I’d totally live there again. DC is a great place to thrive in and it’s one of my favorite places. I plan on applying for jobs there after I graduate.



#3. What exactly did you do in DC?

Does anyone ever really know? I didn’t work for the CIA. I had 16 credits of coursework and internship. I interned with an organization called Free the Slaves. They do anti-slave labor work in 6 countries. They’re awesome. I worked with a team on a global development project with World Vision. I was mentored by an amazing and funny communications professional. I took a course called Vocation and Leadership. It was heavily discussion based. It made me think deeper. We explored truth and justice and Shalom, and I liked it a lot. I still like to go back and reference my reading assignments and I’m not even a hardcore nerd. In addition to the coursework though, I got to explore the city and learn from the people who live there.


DC rowhouses#2. Ew. Why did you even go to DC?

This is my personal favorite. Washington has a bad rep. People don’t agree with the government, I get it. But let’s be honest. DC is a great place to live. It even has its own laws since it’s not a State. It’s clean. It’s friendly. People say good morning to you as you walk by. Like, people at my little college don’t even do that. The city is full of history, obviously. It’s amazing how you never tire of the architecture. DC has this thing for cupcakes. The city is brick-paved and lined with unique row houses. My point: don’t hate on DC until you’ve walked a mile of her. She’s a beauty that’ll take your breath away. (Sigh. Pardon me while I go write a love song).

#1. Are you glad to be back?

Meh. I love Chicago, for sure. But since my experiences in DC probably changed my life, it’s difficult to get back into previous things. That’s why I write here, silly. (Obviously the people asking me these questions should just go read my blog and save me from further social interaction and contribute to slowly digress the way we humans communicate non-verbally with one another ahhhh…jk). Anyways. I think it’s something of a culture shock. I like being home, but I’m in search of the balance in taking my newfound lessons and stories and living them in an old place. That’s epitome of the struggle. It’s a progress.

Stephanie in Old Town Alexandria

Stephanie in Old Town Alexandria

A rising senior, Stephanie is a Communication major at Olivet Nazarene University.  While an ASP student, she was the social media intern at Free the Slaves; since returning to ONU, she has continued to manage Free the Slaves’ social media remotely.  After graduation, Stephanie plans to pursue social media marketing (basically anything that involves traveling, tweeting, photographing, and planning) in a major city–hopefully DC! You can find her blogging at Steph Went to Washington as she has time.

Alumni Feature: Agaba Bisengo (Spring 2006)

A year ago I accepted a new job at Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB) in Kigali, Rwanda, where I serve as the Transformation Advancement and Deputy Team Leader. I am in charge of donor relations and grant management. Prior to UOB, I worked as the Executive Assistant to the President of Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) in Arlington VA. I graduated from Ashford University with a Master’s in Business Administration: concentration in Organizational Leadership/Management in 2010. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science: concentration in International Relations and a minor in Economics from Messiah College in 2006. In my final year at Messiah College, I did an internship at the World Vision Office in Washington, DC through the American Studies Program in DC. After graduating from Messiah College, I led a mission of 14 American students to Congo and Rwanda. Their task was to teach math and English and minister to orphans. On March 31, 2009, I learned I had won a full scholarship from Ashford University while as a guest on the Tyra Banks Show. Prior to IGE, I worked as a Research Coordinator for the Corporate Executive Board, a best practice research firm serving over 3,700 leading corporations and nonprofit institutions. I supported three program leaders with editing, client communication, and meeting planning. I have been calling Silver Spring, MD home since 1996. I am married to Alexis Sharangabo and we have two boys: Mihigo and Muhoza.


Agaba is pictured with her husband, Alexis, in front of the Rwanda King’s House in Nyanza, Rwanda