SGPP Students Attend Seminar in Washington, D.C.

In January 2014, the School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP) funded eight undergraduate students to attend the Inside Washington: Academic Seminar in Washington D.C. in early January. The seminar is offered through the Washington Center, an independent, nonprofit organization that offers students challenging opportunities to work and learn. The students who attended were  Meghan Bergersen, Guadalupe Galarza Pacheco, Trevor Gervais, Ashley Gurevitz, Morgan Hultquist, Fernanda Munoz, Amanda Prewitt, and Samantha-Jo Roth.  The students have shared their experiences below.

Washington, D.C. was absolutely amazing. The Washington Center is an incredible organization that really put in hard work to make the academic seminar informational and hands on. I hope you can extend my sincere gratitude to both Melody Robidoux and the selection committee for giving me this opportunity. I learned so much and made some great friends from all over the nation.

The seminar enabled me to hear from such a wide range of speakers, about many different topics. I had the opportunity to hear from Grover Norquist, Howard Dean, Tom Daschle, Bob Bennett, Dan Glickman, and many others. It was incredible to learn about different topics, such as immigration reform, the budget, and environmental policy and then learn how to work and find bipartisan solutions. The Washington Center put us into different groups and I got to work with others to really know what it meant to find these solutions. 

My absolute favorite moment of the seminar was attending a reception at the Bipartisan Policy Center. I was surrounded by politicians, policy analysts, and some successful students who like me, were there to learn what bipartisanship meant. Bob Bennett talked about his experiences with bipartisanship and really encouraged all of us to get to know people who share different ideologies.

This was an opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever grateful that SGPP allowed me to attend. These skills and experiences will always stay with me and I hope to implement what I've learned into my future career. Washington, D.C. is a dynamic and always moving city and I'm counting down the days until I can return and experience it again.

Again, thank you for everything. 

Ashley Gurevitz

I had such an incredible experience at the Inside Washington Seminar. I learned so much and am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend. I met one of my journalism idols, which is Major Garrett, the Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News. He was so inspiring and gave valuable advice. Someday, I would like to make my way back to Washington and serve as a Congressional Correspondent! The Washington Center Seminar opened my eyes to the complicated world of media & politics. I feel more prepared to pursue a career in this industry after attending. 

I had a wonderful time in Washington! We were very lucky to have great weather!

Thank you again, 

Sami-Jo Roth 

I had a wonderful time in DC and enjoyed hearing from a variety of political figures on a topic that greatly interests me.  Thank you for the opportunity!!  I would have to say that, by far, my favorite experience of the week was on the very first day and involved the first panelists of the whole seminar (Chris Cillizza and Michael Steele). I see Chris Cillizza all the time on television analyzing the current political crisis so it was really neat to see him in person. However, the most memorable thing for me was meeting Michael Steele in person. 

After the panel, our small group leader pulled Mr. Steele aside and asked if he had time for fifteen minutes for our questions. He did and actually ended up staying for over forty minutes! Our small group had a great intimate conversation with him about everything from the repeal of section 4 of the Voting Rights Acts and its effect on the mid-term elections to Hillary Clinton's possible 2016 presidential run to Arizona turning purple in the next couple election cycles. I really appreciated his honesty and sincerity in answering our questions and I was surprised at how much I agreed with him on certain issues. It was refreshing to see a national political leader talking honestly and critically about the issues and it helped to reaffirm my optimism when it comes to American politics.

Thanks again!!

Meghan Bergersen

I had a wonderful time in D.C. I learned so much about politics and the media. My favorite site, by far, was Politico. They are an amazing news organization that is committed to sharing news that is accurate and fair on both sides. I never thought I would encounter a source of media that could do that. Now I have found my permanent information well that I know will be reliable and keep me up to date on what is happening in the country.

On a more personal note, the most exciting thing that happened to me was getting to speak to Supreme Court Justice Breyer. He is a very intelligent man and explained that a lot of thought goes into Supreme Court rulings. Furthermore, he talked about when justices deliberate and one justice has a different opinion it does not mean they are wrong, it just means they are looking at it from a different perspective. He tied that into Congress and how they have forgotten how to negotiate.

Over all the experience in Washington D.C. was incredible. It opened up my eyes to issues I hadn't even though of. I enjoyed every minute of it and is something that I would do again. I would especially like to thank you Ms. Tryon for selecting me to go as well as Melody Robidoux for her generous and continued support to the SGPP program. It really makes a difference in the life of students, especially those studying Political Science.

Fernanda Munoz

My favorite thing about this program is that it provided me the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of viewpoints.  The emphasis for week 1 was on bipartisan solutions, so it was very interesting to see who seemed willing to compromise and who did not.  The more speakers we heard from, the more apparent it became that compromise is done by those who truly desire some type of change.  Those are the far ends of the spectrum (either left or right) were not likely to find any bipartisan solution because they were not willing to come to the table.  Yet visiting various think tanks and hearing from influential speakers showed that compromise is still possible despite the current political climate.  I am very thankful that I was able to be a part of this experience, not just because it is great to see Washington, D.C., but because many of these perspectives were truly eye opening. 

Trevor Gervais



Published Date: 

02/04/2014 - 12:07