Campus News

New Washington Semester Program helps prepare future political leaders

While other UGA students have returned to the classroom for spring semester, juniors Amanda McLeod and Arthur Tripp Jr. are currently giving tours of the Capitol building, responding to constituents’ letters and attending briefings. They are part of a group of 15 participants in UGA’s recently launched  Washington Semester Program.

Under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, the Washington Semester Program encompasses 12 credit hours of courses, 30-hour-per-week internships in congressional offices, think tanks and nonprofit organizations, and a range of cultural events and opportunities, including tours of the CIA and the Library of Congress.

For the inaugural semester, Susan Haire, associate professor of political science at UGA, is teaching in the program. Carey Clinton, a 2003 UGA graduate and returned Peace Corps volunteer, serves as program assistant, the on-site liaison for the students.

“The students are off to a running start, already reporting that they are engaging in very substantive work,” said Don De Maria, program director. “I am grateful for the support of our alumni and friends in the nation’s capital who have provided outstanding opportunities for our students.”

McLeod, who is working in the office of Sen. Johnny Isakson, has always been interested in government administration since high school. The experience has solidified her decision to work on Capitol Hill after graduation and eventually for a lobbying firm.

“With the city containing so many diverse individuals, as well as vast amounts of history, it lends itself to being a fabulous learning environment,” said McLeod, a marketing major.

Similarly, Tripp, a political science and international affairs double major, said that the Washington Semester Program is helping him familiarize himself with the political process so he can pursue a career in the field. Tripp aspires to serve in government—possibly as a future U.S. secretary of state.

 “Students should take advantage of this program because it is truly one of a kind,” said Tripp, who is interning in the office of Rep. David Scott. “To receive many hours of class credit and first-hand experience simultaneously is very rare when relating to the political field.”

Applications for fall 2008, which have a priority deadline of Feb. 29, can be found online (