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WMP Helps Students Transition into College Life

By Ryan Jordan

Elizabeth Williams

The Washington Mentorship Program is a great opportunity for anyone who takes advantage of all it has to offer. Elizabeth Williams entered the program as a freshman at American University in the fall of 2012. She had not heard of the program before that fall, but she was delighted to have been chosen to participate.

"The Mentorship Program wasn't something I had initially planned to participate in, but it turned out to be one of the most influential semesters at American," said Williams.

Williams attended a very small high school, with only 54 students in her graduating class. She admitted that she was nervous to enter college in a big city, but the Mentorship Program helped her transition. With the 16-1 student-professor ratio, the Mentorship Program provided Williams with the personal connection she was used to having in her classrooms.

"During my first semester, I bonded with professors and really delved into my classes," Williams said. "I also built a close group of friends, which was great after leaving my hometown for college."

The program consisted of classroom lectures and weekly on-site visits to museums, organizations, and agencies across DC, and its structure allowed Williams a one-on-one connection with both the professors and other participants. This experience also gave her the opportunity to intern as a freshman, an automatic competitive edge over her peers when applying for future positions since it is rare for first-semester college freshmen to complete internships.

"I would highly recommend this program," said Williams. "It helped me learn how to balance my college courses, internship, and personal life all at the same time. I was able to learn this balance during my first semester and extended this time management to all of my semesters at American. I even graduated early."

Williams interned at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST), which is onsite at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia. Her internship experience helped solidify her interest in international studies, and she majored in International Studies and minored in International Business at American University. During the internship, she interviewed foreign servants, edited and wrote articles that were published online, and attended lectures at the State Department (one of which was led by presidential nominee Hillary Clinton). The internship also gave Williams the opportunity to network within the industry in which she hoped to make a career. She loved her experience at ADST so much that she interned there again during her sophomore year.

"It is such a unique program. It challenged me to grow and helps first-semester freshman to get out of their high school, hometown mindset and transition to college and professional life in DC at American," said Williams. "I owe a lot to this program."