In 2004, Craig McPherson ’06 was drawn to the Washington Program. As a PPE/Government double major participating in the Program might seem a natural extension of McPherson’s interests – but it was more utilitarian than just that.
“From deep study of the philosophical origins of our system of government to the more crass practical politics of the interplay of elected officials, think tanks, interest groups and the media, a CMC government major has a better understanding than most of the moving parts that make our government function,” he says. “The Washington Program gave a real life opportunity to put into use what we were learning in the classroom.”
Byron Koay ’06 and the Washington Program were made for each other.
Since graduation, Koay, an Economics and Government dual major, has been involved in D.C. politics in a big way. “I was always interested in politics going into CMC and thought it would be a great experience to live and work in Washington, D.C.,” he says. “I don’t know how it is now but when I was at CMC, the program was seen as a very competitive and prestigious opportunity to do something that not many students in the country get to do.”
Q: What did you take home from the Program?
Koay: Learning how to balance work and life probably much earlier than rest of my peers because we had to work a full-time internship, attend classes at night (which required reading and writing papers), and living a “real-world” existence (finding your own apartment, maintaining it, etc.).
Q: What kind of a career have you had?
Chris Behrman ’89 ascribes to the firmly held belief that studying off-campus is an important part of the overall college experience for any student.
“It forces you out of your routine and teaches you important life skills,” he says. “To me, the Washington Program represented a unique opportunity to learn about politics and government firsthand while living in our nation’s capitol. The opportunity to intern with a firm of my choosing was also very attractive. After doing some research, I decided to intern with a firm where I could pursue my interests in both financial services and government affairs.”
Behrman, an Economics major at CMC, participated in the Program in the fall of 1987. As an intern at the national stock brokerage firm, E.F. Hutton, Behrman was part of a team that provided legislative research and analysis for clients.
Like so many Washington Program participants from CMC, Brooke Millis ’04 had her eye on the program from the time she did her initial search about which colleges she might elect to attend.
“I loved the idea that students would be able to experience living and working in D.C. while still engaged in classes,” says Millis who majored in International Relations at CMC and participated in the Program in 2002. “The program sounded both unique and challenging – and it was. Of the many Washington, DC programs I subsequently heard of, CMC’s had no match in intensity or impact.”
“I had an interest in politics and the program was a chance to learn about government and politics in the most powerful city in the world since, in my opinion, Washington D.C. is basically the strongest seat of government in the world,” says Kevin Arnold ’90 about the reasons that drew him to participate in the Washington Program in January 1989. “It also was first time I lived outside of the Los Angeles area, and I had some cousins living in D.C. including one that I stayed with during my time there. Capitol Hill itself was a draw. I had an opportunity to intern at different office for a national nonprofit organization, but I wanted to work on Capitol Hill and I was glad I did.”
Long before Margaret Wang Rattay ’97 enrolled in the Washington Program, she loved the nation’s capitol. In fact, it was during a high school trip she made to D.C. to attend a week-long conference that Margaret (a Government/Music major at CMC) became interested in the workings of government and how she could become involved.
She got her wish when she enrolled in the Washington Program in the fall of 1995. “I wanted to experience what it would be like to live and work in D.C.,” Maggie says, “all within the parameters that CMC provided.”
Those parameters – full-time internships rooted in serious discussions of contemporary political issues -- have helped to make the Program a proud tradition at CMC for more than four decades and have benefitted generations of students at the College.
Helena Bottemiller Evich ’09 knew she wanted to participate in the Washington Program before she ever got to CMC. “I'd long been interested in politics and policy and figured doing a semester in D.C. would be a good way to dive in and learn a lot more about how the system works (and doesn't!), says Evich who majored in Government with a Leadership sequence.
In the spring of 2008, Evich traveled to D.C. for an internship with an eye toward “sharpening” her research skills. “The firm I worked for had us do pretty substantive work, whether it was helping write a pitch for a new client or preparing briefing materials for a hearing witness,” she says. “You learn things pretty quickly when you know your work is actually being applied in the real world.”
Evich was a self-styled “policy nerd/government major” who accidentally fell into journalism.
Rarely has a course of study at CMC been such an accurate precursor to a subsequent career. Michael Shear ’90 graduated from CMC as a Government major with a self-designed Journalism/Media minor. He now works for The New York Times as the newspaper’s White House Correspondent.
Talk about a harmonic convergence!
“The two things I always loved as a kid were politics and the media,” he says. “I had been the news editor of my high school newspaper and followed the 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns as much as a young person could. When I got to CMC and discovered the Washington program, it wasn't even a question. I knew I would be doing it. And I ended up falling in love with Washington while I was in the program -- and eventually moved here permanently.”
Ben Forster ’11 participated in the Washington Program during the spring of his junior year. During this semester, he interned at the Pentagon in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, International Security Affairs, and the Middle East. The following summer, he received a stipend through the European Union Center of California at Scripps College to work at the U.S. Mission to NATO before returning to CMC for his final year. Most recently, Forster worked as a consultant with LMI for the Pentagon, working with the Department of Defense advisor program. He is now a master’s candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. For Ben, taking part in the Washington Program led directly to future opportunities such as the internship at NATO. Through the contacts he made in D.C., Ben was able to secure a job after graduation.
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