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Former WSP Student from Germany Recounts How the Program Launched Her Career

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Charlotte Potts, a journalism alum from the fall 2007 Washington Semester Program (WSP), stayed an additional spring semester in Washington to continue studying foreign policy. She says that coming to American University (AU) was the deciding factor in launching her career.

“I remember while growing up in Germany, I looked at Washington as the city where only the best in their fields worked,” Potts recently wrote. “I arrived with two suitcases and stayed—first for a year, then for another year, then another.”

“I found friends for life from all over the world,” she continued. “My friends from Norway, Denmark, Germany and the US recently attended my wedding in Spain—truly international.”

Potts said journalism professor Iris Krasnow was a great feature writer.

But even more importantly, this professor “told us not to be shy and to go for your dreams. From that point on, this defined my professional motto.”

When Potts began studying foreign policy in her second semester at AU, she found Professor John Calabrese to be very influential. Potts said that through him she had direct exposure to an array of think tanks, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a variety of diplomatic missions; all while interning at Al Jazeera English.

“WSP offered me the opportunity to experience the US capital in a way not many students can,” Potts wrote. “I got insights and perspectives from some of the very best in their fields. It made me grow, and made me appreciate and adapt to the ‘can-do’ spirit that comes with the city.

After graduating from WSP, Potts used the skills she developed from previous experiences and what she had learned from Professor Krasnow, to start writing for several German news outlets Potts missed Washington so much that she returned in 2008 to cover the presidential elections as a producer and later as a travel producer for ZDF and ARD German TV.

“I spent six years in Washington. I owe the fact that I stayed this long to the WSP, which gave me my career direction, practical training and academic grounding,” she noted.

During her six years in the nation’s capital, she wrote a Ph.D. thesis about the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements.

“Now I am back in Berlin, where I work as a political correspondent for Deutsche Welle TV,” Potts explained. “I cover German politics in English and German. Reporting in a language different from your own is another thing I wouldn’t have been able to do without my time at WSP.”