IS Students Engage With Policy, Institutions on DC Connection Trip

A group of diverse college students in professional business attire

Fourteen Rhodes international studies (IS) majors got a chance this summer to experience life in the nation’s capital as participants in the department’s annual D.C. Connection trip. The trip gives students a look at life inside the Beltway, where their academic endeavors come face to face with the real world. Joining the students were Dr. Jennifer Sciubba, associate professor of international studies; Dr. Barron Boyd, director of Rhodes’ Buckman Center for International Education; and Sandi George Tracy, director of career services. Robert Buckman and Joyce Mollerup sponsored the trip. 

D.C. Connection is a chance for students to network with professionals and meet with Rhodes alumni working in the District. Visits to places such as the Pew Research Center, Institute for Defense Analyses, Women’s History Museum, Organization of American States, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars were also on the agenda.

Sciubba says that while students learn a great deal about politics and international relations in their classes at Rhodes, “There’s nothing like physically seeing places where the big decisions we study and discuss in class actually take place, or meeting the people who make those decisions. D.C. is one of the most—if not the most—important cities in the world, and the opportunities there give IS students a chance to make a real impact on policy even fresh out of college.”

For students, the trip served as a sounding board for ideas about careers they might want to pursue in the District. “I went into this trip unsure about my career path and wanting to know more about potential job opportunities in D.C,” says Lily Flores ’19, of South Orleans, MA. “I asked tons of questions and listened to current professionals talk about their post-undergrad experiences, which helped me to narrow down my focus and better understand my job preferences.”

Others learned how organizations engage with policy issues in D.C., sometimes in surprising ways. Colorado Springs, CO, native Dylan Craddock ‘19, who spent time shadowing a professional at the American Institute of Architects, says, “I know nothing about architecture and frankly went in with low expectations, but the institution ended up doing some really cool things regarding sustainability and urban planning.”

Dominik Booth ’18, from Lexington, KY, found a wide variety of opportunities for working in his preferred area of study. “I hope to work in either the private, public, or non-profit sphere seeking new ways to address issues regarding gender equality, security, and prosperity. Be it through education, economic development, or public policy processes, there are a huge number of people in D.C. working in the area I’m passionate about.”

San Antonio, TX,  native India Nikotich ’19 adds, “I will never forget walking past the Watergate hotel, exploring the inner sanctums of think tanks, and approaching Capitol Hill for the first time. When I visited the National Archives and stood in front of the Constitution, a security guard noticed me tearing up. He leaned over and quietly told me the story of Jacob Shalice, the Constitutional scribe, who had been apprenticing his 16-year-old son. The son was tasked with the final calligraphy for the first and last words—"We the People" and "Done." That was a powerful reminder of the importance of our young generation, and the responsibility we have to uphold these near-sacred documents.”

By Katherine Hancock ’19

The group of young international studies program participants standing under hanging flags from various nations