newsId: 3473E2DD-5056-AF26-BEAA52885D1FFCAF
Title: Career Interests Heightened Due to the WSP Experience
Author: Ryan Jordan
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Abstract: Hannah Vecseri was home schooled from kindergarten through her high school graduation. During her sophomore year at Baylor University, she discovered that the Washington Semester Program offered a Justice and Law concentration, which peaked her interest.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/28/2017
Content:

Hannah Vecseri was home schooled from kindergarten through her high school graduation. During her sophomore year at Baylor University, she discovered that the Washington Semester Program offered a Justice and Law concentration, which peaked her interest.

"The program gave me the opportunity to connect with people who do what I want to do," said Vecseri. "I really loved the program because I am interested in going to law school. The program helped shape the rest of my studies at Baylor."

Vecseri appreciated the WSP learning environment, which reflected the home school design with which she was familiar. She was also happy to be back in a big city.

During her time in DC, Vecseri interned as an assistant researcher with the Federalist Society where she had the opportunity to further explore constitutional law, which is exactly what she wants to do in her career. Vecseri read an entire 600-page book on constitutional law theory. She also helped in the organization of Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral, which was hosted by the Federalist Society. In addition, Vecseri had the opportunity to attend a Supreme Court hearing.

During the Washington Semester Program, Vecseri gained a more in-depth understanding of how government and the law work. She learned from both professors and working professionals in the classroom.

"We got to see a day in the life," said Vecseri. "We also had the opportunity to network and ask questions."

Since leaving the program, Vecseri has stayed in touch with all of her professors. She said that they have been an asset in her professional growth and development. Her experience in the Washington Semester Program confirmed her interest in pursuing a law career.

"Be intentional about your growth, and be engaged everywhere you can" is the advice Hannah Vecseri gaveto students interested in the program. "Take charge of your experience."

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Title: Full Circle: Current WSP Students Visit with '94 Alum
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kasper Zeuthen is the Senior Media Advisor for the European Union Delegation to the United States. He made time to visit with current Washington Semester Program students who are in the same program he was in over 20 years prior.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/07/2017
Content:

Kasper Zeuthen is the Senior Media Advisor for the European Union Delegation to the United States. His position gives him the opportunity to meet prominent leaders and diplomats across the globe, but he still made time to visit with current Washington Semester Program students who are in the same program he was in over 20 years prior.

"When I was a Washington Semester student myself, it always amazed me to see how many people would take time out of their busy schedules to talk to us, and I still rely on tips and advice given to me all those years ago," said Zeuthen. "So, I'm always ready to talk to new generations of Washington Semester students."

Zeuthen attended the Washington Semester Program in 1994 with a concentration in journalism. He had received a scholarship from the Danish-American Foundation that directly tied him to the Washington Semester Program. During the program, Zeuthen interned with CNN's D.C. bureau, and he had the opportunity to rotate between different departments and programs.

Being a part of the Washington Semester Program solidified Zeuthen's interest in pursuing a career in journalism. He enjoyed DC so much that he returned to American University to receive a master's in journalism and public affairs.

"After I graduated with my MA from AU, I stayed in D.C. and worked as a reporter for a number of different outlets," said Zeuthen. "It is a great advantage to be located in the nation's capital and have access to all these speakers and resources."

Kasper Zeuthen strongly recommends the Washington Semester Program to students looking to advance within their fields of interest.

"The combination of a hands-on internship and using all of D.C. as a classroom works really well."

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Title: Washington Semester Program Student Interns at the World Bank
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Sebastian Urthaler heard about the Washington Semester Program from an alumni he knew in Germany. During his time in DC, Urthaler had the opportunity to intern at the World Bank.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/21/2017
Content:

Sebastian Urthaler heard about the Washington Semester Program from an alumnus he played soccer with at his home school in Germany. At Zeppelin University, American University's partner school in Germany, Urthaler is majoring in politics, administration, and international relations. During the Washington Semester Program, he chose the Global Economics and Business concentration because of his interest in the inter-connectedness between politics and the economy. During his time in DC, Urthaler had the opportunity to intern at the World Bank.

"I am convinced that participating in the program, and especially being at the World Bank for four months, will help me to be more analytical and reasoned when it comes to understanding and solving certain problems," said Urthaler.

Urthaler explained that the complex, multicultural environment of his internship has helped him build his communication and other professional skills.

"At the World Bank, I am learning to be more flexible, work on several issues at the same time, and work with people with different backgrounds and expectations," said Urthaler. "I feel like I am being challenged in a positive way every day, making me better able to coordinate with different people and deal with a variety of tasks."

At the World Bank, Urthaler has worked on many projects, including collaborations with others. One project he is working on is drafting a toolkit for the Corporate Governance of State Owned Enterprises in South and East Asia. Another project he contributes to is the development of a Human Centered Business Model that concentrates on sustainability and social issues. Urthaler has done much research on the frameworks and principles of both projects to help the World Bank in their efforts. Urthaler said he would not recommend the Washington Semester Program to somebody who just wants to go abroad to have a good time.

"I think the Washington Semester Program can be a very valuable experience for hardworking people who are serious about it, people who will make the most of the opportunity to meet so many interesting people during their four months in DC," he added.

In January, Urthaler returned to his home school in Germany to finish his degree. He hopes to continue working part-time for the World Bank while he finishes his studies. He is thankful for his experience in the U.S., especially during an election year. He is grateful that the Washington Semester Program gave him the opportunity to come to DC, improve his English, and gain important insight and experience for his future career.   

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Title: Modern Day Renaissance Hybrid Woman
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kaylah “Kami” Simmons is a senior interested in theatre arts, media and television, entertainment, political science, and policy-making. The Washington Semester Program gave her the chance to reflect on her career plans while exploring her interests.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/07/2017
Content:

Kaylah "Kami" Simmons is a senior at Kalamazoo College with a major in Theatre Arts, Media Studies, and Economics. She is interested in theatre arts, media and television, entertainment, political science, and policy-making. In the summer of 2015, Simmons ventured to DC in search of internship experience through the Washington Semester Program.

"I wanted a program that had internship opportunities for students interested in news and broadcasting with an emphasis on public policy," said Simmons. "I knew that through this program, I would be able to take a course at American University while participating in an internship that aligned with the course and my interests."

Simmons interned at the Voice of America as their English Division Social Media intern. Throughout her time at the Washington Semester Program, she questioned how policy-making relates to fashion, pop culture, and her many other interests. Simmons learned so much from the Washington Semester Program and her summer internship that she was encouraged to apply to the White House for the fall 2015 semester.

"It allowed me to take skills from the Washington Semester Program and continue them in my policy role at the White House," said Simmons about her amazing experience as a White House intern.

During her time in the White House, Simmons worked on the "Let Girls Learn" initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama's Leadership and Mentoring Program. Simmons was able to gain more knowledge on policy-making concerning women and girls while learning about the inner-workings of the White House. This internship experience also broadened her possible career paths, including some she had not considered before.

This past summer, Simmons interned as the Planning and Programming intern at HLN with CNN. The role gave her the opportunity to practice using a television teleprompter. She was also able to pitch story ideas and help produce and write scripts for various shows produced by the HLN network.

"I want to be a journalist who not only gives people a voice by telling their story, but I also want to challenge my viewer's thinking of the world around them," said Simmons about her future career endeavors. "I am a modern-day renaissance hybrid woman with many interests and interning at the Voice of America, the White House, and CNN has helped me to continue to think about how I want to connect all of those interests to create my own career path."

After graduating this spring, Simmons plans to attend graduate school for journalism. She hopes to join a television network as an on-air personality and correspondent. Ultimately, she wants to create her own television and media production company, which will allow her to create content, tell stories, inform, and inspire. The Washington Semester Program gave her the chance to reflect on her career plans while exploring her interests.

"I credit this program for giving me the opportunity to think broadly about how I want to continue to combine my interests of policy making and journalism to inform, inspire, and shake up the world while also challenging the beliefs of my future audience."  

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Title: Alumni Witnesses WSP 30 Year Evolution
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: William Grover, a professor at Saint Michael’s College, has seen first-hand how the Washington Semester Program (WSP) has evolved over the past 30 years.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/31/2017
Content:

William Grover, a professor at Saint Michael's College, has seen first-hand how the Washington Semester Program (WSP) has evolved over the past 30 years. Professor Grover attended the program in the fall of 1978, during his senior year at Moravian College where he double majored in journalism and political science. While in DC, Grover studied International Development, a concentration no longer offered by the WSP.

"I became deeply interested in the politics of foreign aid," Grover said about his experience in the WSP. "I gained a much deeper knowledge of how DC politics works, particularly in Congress, which helped me tremendously years later when I, a young professor from Saint Michael's College in Vermont, became an American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellow."

Grover has taught at Saint Michael's College for the past 30 years. His teaching focuses on the American presidency, Congress, and the political economy. Since the college became affiliated with the WSP over 25 years ago, Professor Grover has served as the faculty liaison. His college has sent many students down to DC, and not one has returned unsatisfied with their experience.

"The WSP still packs a punch for those students interested in the inner workings of American politics and international relations," said Grover. "If the WSP can continue to expand its topical offerings and continue to attract fine faculty, it should thrive into the future…" ,   

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Title: From Germany to Hillary: A WSP alum’s career in American politics
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Recent Washington Semester Program alumni credits his internship as the gateway to attaining the position in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/24/2017
Content:

It was part chance and part passion that led Johannes Trischler to the Washington Semester Program in 2013. Trischler is originally from Germany and had never been abroad, but after he completed his law degree at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, he heard about the program from a WSP alum.

"They told me that it was a unique opportunity to meet and speak with people in the field, people who know what they are talking about," said Trischler.

Trischler was eager to continue his studies and learn about foreign policy from a different perspective, so he ventured to DC to get a first-hand look at policy and politics. He was pleasantly surprised at how close he got to the action. During the Washington Semester Program, Trischler had the opportunity to meet John Kerry, work on an election campaign in Virginia, and listen to the U.S. foreign ambassador to Syria speak on a panel.

"It's so impressive to actually be at the place where very important decisions are being made," said Trischler.

Trischler appreciated that the program offered both classroom learning and real-world experience in the students' field of interest. While he attended the Washington Semester Program, Trischler interned at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. He credits that internship as the gateway that helped him attain a role in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

"I really like that you can talk with other people about what they discovered during their internships," Trischler said. "You can share information and experiences. You get more than just an internship; you also have access to amazingly interesting people during those classes."

While he was in DC for the program, Trischler was able to improve his English. He also appreciated the opportunity to see how policy is actually practiced. Due to his participation in the program, Trischler realized that his view of the world was not "broad enough."

"I don't know enough," he said. "I have to talk to people. I have to come to other countries' capitals and talk to the people who actually make the decisions to learn how other people and how other states work."

Johannes Trischler had always been interested in foreign policy and politics. When he finished the program, he had more than just a theoretical understanding of policymaking, and he had seen the process in action. Trischler recommends the program to those who want to see the reality of policymaking and how it can make a difference.

"If you want to see how real life policymaking works...go to WSP." 

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Title: Alumni Find Their Way Back to AU
Author: Ryan Jordan
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Abstract: Many WSP alumni eventually find their way back to DC, and some even find their way back to American University. That was the case for Kerwin Henderson, a current Research Associate in the Justice Programs Office of Public Affairs at AU.
Topic: Department Spotlight
Publication Date: 01/17/2017
Content:

Many Washington Semester Program (WSP) alumni eventually find their way back to DC, and some even find their way back to American University (AU). That was the case for Kerwin Henderson, a current Research Associate in the Justice Programs Office of Public Affairs at AU, who completed the WSP with a concentration in justice and law in the Spring of 2011.

"I had a phenomenal experience in the program," Henderson announced. "It exposed me to the full spectrum of the criminal justice system, and through my experience, I gained an understanding of how the system works."

While he participated in the WSP, Henderson interned with the Office of Community Orientated Policing at the Department of Justice and was able to meet a number of influential people in the local DC and federal governments. He recognized that he would not have had the opportunity to gain firsthand experience at a federal agency if he had not participated in the program.

Henderson states that the program helped him become an advocate for criminal justice reform. He says that the program prepared him for his graduate school experience at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a master's in criminal justice.

"My experience in the program has helped me in every professional position I've held since graduating from grad school," said Henderson. "I've worked as a practitioner at a children's home and as a researcher in academia, and the broad experience I was afforded in the program helped me excel at both."

Like many other WSP alumni, Henderson recognized the invaluable experience he received through his participation in the Washington Semester Program. He commented that it is rare for a program to have both a rich learning environment and the opportunity to intern at influential institutions.

"Prospective students should not pass up the opportunity to participate in the program."

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Title: WSP Alumna Casey Mendoza: Living the Life of a True Journalist
Author: Ryan Jordan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Casey Mendoza, a former Washington Semester Program student, has started her journalism career off strong.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/10/2017
Content:

Talent can be limited by limited resources, but that was not the case for Casey Mendoza.

“When we filmed, we were using our own cameras, our own mics, and one other camera borrowed from a professor,” said Mendoza. “Meanwhile, schools like DePaul or Northwestern were working with equipment that equaled our budgets for the year.”

A video on undocumented students at Knox College that she shot and edited with a fellow student reporter won First Place in Multimedia Reporting from the Illinois Collegiate Press Association. The win was completely unexpected, and not the reason she began the project in the first place. As editor-in-chief of her home school’s newspaper, The Knox Student, Mendoza simply wanted to create videos of stories that resonated with the community. She learned those skills while studying Journalism and New Media in the Washington Semester Program (WSP).

Mendoza entered the WSP in the spring of 2015 to pursue her interest in journalism. She had only minored in the subject at Knox College due to the small size of its journalism program. As a student of political science, she decided that entering the Washington Semester Program was her best option for immersing herself in both disciplines.

Referring to American University, Mendoza said, “AU was able to introduce me to so many different people active in the industry. It helped me understand better how the industry is evolving and transitioning to include multimedia and new technologies.”

While in DC, Mendoza also honed her pre- and post-production skills while interning at a documentary film company called The Biscuit Factory. Through this WSP required internship experience she acquired the necessary skills and platform to tell the stories of people who are regularly denied attention and air time.

Her introduction to multimedia and real-world film work started with her decision to attend the Washington Semester Program. Mendoza acknowledged that Professors Klein and Ivory at American University showed her that young people have the power to change how journalism works.

“They taught me not to be scared of change, even though other people are,” said Mendoza “They see that technology, video, and social media can help journalism become more accessible and democratic for audiences and readers.”

Mendoza hopes to make her career in video production for news organizations and documentaries. Currently, she is the post- baccalaureate fellow at Knox College’s journalism department. She is working on an oral history project and doing freelance work for her local newspaper, The Register-Mail.

“I would never have been on this track if it weren't for Klein and Ivory,” Mendoza said. “The fact that I have their support and advice helps me keep going as well."

Casey Mendoza illustrates that talent contributes toward person’s success, but she also demonstrates that support and building a professional network are essential for long-term career development. The Washington Semester Program provides a nurturing environment for all this and more.


Casey Mendoza was awarded First Place in Multimedia Reporting by the Illinois Collegiate Press Association for a video she shot and edited on undocumented students at Knox College.

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Title: Fulbright Scholar Gets Her Start at AU
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Abstract: Lilly Maier fell in love with U.S. politics after watching Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing, so she left the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich to gain experience in DC through the Washington Semester Program (WSP).
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 12/06/2016
Content:

Lilly Maier fell in love with U.S. politics after watching Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing, so she left the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich to gain experience in DC through the Washington Semester Program (WSP).

“It seemed like the perfect mix of an internship, classes, and visiting interesting places, and it was,” Maier said. “I got to meet many interesting people and learn a lot about how the different institutions in Washington work. And, thanks to Iris Krasnow’s teaching, my writing improved dramatically.”

Maier also recognized Gil Klein, the director of the journalism and new media concentration from the WSP, for helping her find internships and jobs, even after she left DC. It was through Klein’s network that Maier was able to promote some of her work. A recent feature story she posted on Medium entitled “From Organized Chaos to Paid Trips,” is a perfect example of Maier’s political insight and maturing journalism skills. The feature is an in-depth look into the differences between volunteers that worked on the Sanders, Clinton, and Trump campaigns in New York. Some insights she gained from her reporting included:

“Clinton’s volunteers are the most experienced and the most loyal. They are also closely tied to the official campaign and work hand-in-hand with paid Clinton workers. The ones for Sanders were highly motivated, but they loudly and vehemently demanded their independence, so much so that it often seemed they were working against the wishes of the official campaign. Trump has a much smaller number of volunteers, but they were just as outspoken and spur-of-the-moment as the real estate mogul himself (shouting matches between volunteers and staffers included).”

Maier attended the WSP in 2013. During the program, she interned at PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website in DC. Her article about an Obamacare chain email was the site’s second most read article that year and was shared on Facebook over 50,000 times. Maier, originally from Europe, is a gifted writer in both English and German. She has written for American, German, and Austrian magazines and newspapers, including The Huffington Post, The Columbus Dispatch, Quartz, Presse, FOCUS Online, and currently the Jewish Daily Forward.

“After the WSP, I realized two things: a) I really wanted to return to the States and b) I wanted to earn a journalism degree,” Maier said.

Maier is currently working on her MA in Magazine Journalism as a Fulbright scholar at NYU. Her blog, “Lady Liberty Votes,” an election blog from a New York perspective based on the premise that New York usually votes for democrats, started as a class project. The blog has gained interest this past presidential election since both candidates were from New York. As she continues her master’s degree in journalism in New York, Maier remembers all she learned during the WSP. “It was an amazing experience. I would recommend it to anyone.”

To check out Lilly Maier’s work: https://ladylibertyvotes.wordpress.com/

To learn more about the Washington Semester Program, visit our website.

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Title: Current WSP Student is Enjoying Her Internship on the Hill
Author: Ryan Jordan
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Abstract: Current Washington Semester Program student is taking full advantage of her time here in DC
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 11/15/2016
Content:

Since beginning the Washington Semester Program this fall, Lauren Hince has gotten valuable insight into her academic and professional career. At her home institution she is a double major in Communication and Politics and Government, and here at AU she has a concentration in Journalism and New Media. She credits WSP for giving her clarity in combining the two courses of study.

“I was worried that I chose the wrong concentration because I don't want to be journalist,” said Hince. “I still don't want to, but this program has helped me to understand the journalist's perspectives and how that intersects with the field of communication.”

This semester she is also interning on the Hill with Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. While on the Hill, Hince has had the opportunity to speak with many communications professionals. Many of them have suggested that working right after college is the best choice for young professionals. Hince now believes she can wait a while before attending a graduate school program. 

Hince is happy she chose to attend this program, especially since she knows she wants to live in D.C. once she graduates. By attending WSP, she gets a head start on gaining professional connections in the city where she wants to start her career. 

“If you are serious about living in D.C. or getting a jump start on your career than you should definitely try this program,” said Hince. “This program is a very different kind of study abroad. It's a professional study abroad.”

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Title: Alumna and Trustee Margery Kraus honored by Association of Former Members of Congress
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, received the FMC's “Corporate Statesmanship Award.”
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/06/2013
Content:

Alumna and trustee, Margery Kraus, SPA/BA ’67, SPA/MA ’71, was recently honored with the “Corporate Statesmanship Award” from the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) in recognition of her leadership in the philanthropic community. Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, was recognized at FMC’s 16th Annual Statesmanship Award Dinner.

Kraus says that fellow AU alumna and former Congresswoman Connie Morella, CAS/MA ’67, gave her the news that she would receive the award, “and that was as exciting to me as getting the award.” She says the event was a great reunion for her with many members of Congress whom she had known since they were freshmen on the Hill. “This was especially meaningful because it wasn’t just a group giving me an award. These were people I knew,” she says. “Having people rooting for you and on your side is a very special feeling.”

APCO Worldwide is an independent, global communication, stakeholder engagement, and business strategy firm with more than 600 experts in 30 offices around the globe. Calling her one of AU’s most successful alumni, Distinguished Professor Jim Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, says, “She is a wonderful example to all of our students, but especially women.” 

Kraus, who is keenly focused on empowering young women as she runs one of the largest independently-owned communication consultancies, says that her family is her support system. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, she says that her personal brand of work-life balance would not work for everyone. “I try to be there for the most important things and make up for with experience what I lack in time,” she says. To that end, she has built a family tradition of taking each grandchild on an international trip with her when they turn 10 years old. 

Not surprisingly, Kraus says no day is ever the same for her. “I am up at 5:30. I check everything at home,” she says. “Since we’re a global company, I spend the morning catching up on what’s happening in Asia and Europe, then have meetings all day, and usually attend evening receptions.”  

Despite her intensely busy schedule, which sometimes includes weeks on end away from home, Kraus finds time to give back to AU. “Margery Kraus has been a strong and long-term supporter of American University, the School of Public Affairs, and especially the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies through her generous contribution to our benefactor’s awards, her guidance, and by sharing her wisdom and knowledge with our students and faculty,” says Professor Thurber. He adds that she speaks to students, opens her offices to them as interns and employees, and “has changed the lives of many students in countless ways.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Update,Board of Trustees,Capitol Hill,Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies,Congress,International Business,Political Science,School of Public Affairs,Washington DC,Washington Semester
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