Campus News

Fall participants in Washington Semester Program head to D.C

Against the backdrop of the presidential election this fall, UGA junior Lucas Puente serves as an intern in the office of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama through UGA’s Washington Semester Program. Puente and the other participants started their fall internships Sept. 8.

“The fall 2008 class once again represents the best of UGA,” said Don De Maria, director of the Washington Semester Program. “These bright, motivated students will have great opportunities at their internships, in the classroom and beyond. I am grateful for the support of our faculty, alumni and friends who make this a unique and defining experience for our students.”

Launched under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Instruction one year ago, the Washington Semester Program provides participants with classroom instruction and internship placement in congressional offices, nonprofit organizations and think tanks.

The students enrolled for 12 credit hours, six of which include a traditional course and a seminar on life, work and culture in Washington, featuring guest lecturers from UGA and the D.C. area. The other six credit hours can be used for directed study, internship and/or research courses through the student’s academic department.

Joel Clark, director of the University of California-Berkeley’s Washington Semester Program, is teaching a course on ethics, one he specially created for students in academic internship programs in D.C. “The interdisciplinary course explores several facets of politics in D.C., including ethical issues involving Congress, lobbyists, and the president,” he said. “The elections will be a special topic of discussion this semester as we delve into topics such as campaign finance, fundraising and how the media reports on the presidential candidates’ public and private lives.”

The speakers who will be featured during the seminar will include Jere Morehead, UGA’s vice president for instruction; Thomas Lauth, dean of UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs; Joe Whitley, who served as the first general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Randy Nuckolls, partner at McKenna, Long and Aldridge who serves as Washington counsel for UGA; and Elaine Bunn, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University.

Chiefs-of-staff from the offices of Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, and Georgia Reps. Jack Kingston and John Barrow also will speak.

In addition, members of D.C. Dawgs, the Washington, D.C., chapter of UGA’s Alumni Association, are involved in academic and cultural activities for the program participants, serving as mentors, hosting events or giving a lecture about their experiences living and working in D.C.

“I am very impressed with the scope and variety of internship placements and the superb quality of students selected for the fall class,” said Morehead. “I look forward to lecturing and meeting with this outstanding class later this fall.”

Fall semester program participants, their major and internship placement are: Ansley Fox, political science and international affairs, office of Rep. Jack Kingston; Barclay Hendrix, political science, office of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland; Lucas Puente, international affairs and finance, office of Sen. Barack Obama; Bryan Strickland, political science, the Center for International Trade and Security; Zachary Matthews, economics, office of Sen. Johnny Isakson; Sharon McCoy, international affairs and Spanish, Center for American Progress; Evangeline George, political science, office of Rep. John Barrow; Shuyuan Hu, international affairs, office of Rep. John Lewis; Tyler Smith, political science, office of Gov. Sonny Perdue; William Hayes, international affairs, telecommunication arts, Institute for National Strategic Studies; and Alexis Ruiz, political science, and French, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.