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Mission, Vision & Philosophy


"Not only do I feel as if I have a greater awareness of opportunities available to me and to Native students, but I feel better prepared to take advantage of those opportunities, which is just as important, if not more."

Bobby Joe Smith III
Hunkpapa/Middlebury College

The Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) program has been suspended. The information below is intended for archival purposes only.

WINS Purpose

The purpose of American University’s Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) is educate students experientially, through sponsored academic internship program opportunities, for leadership in service to Native Communities and the world in the new millennium.     

WINS Vision

We will transform the careers and lives of our WINS students, while remaining sensitive to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian issues, by training them for leadership positions through professional internship experiences, academic seminars, and community activities. WINS will develop a pool of inter-culturally effective professionals available for possible future hire, capable of success in the workplace in public, private, and tribal sectors.

WINS Mission

Through our non-degree internship and seminar program each semester, WINS develops students who understand American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian leadership and are prepared to earn their home school degrees and then work to serve society in diverse professional fields. Emphasizing American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian cultures, WINS provides students, alumni, internship sites, and faculty with learning opportunities, best practices in experiential education, current internship information and resources, expert advising, and networking events on and off campus, as well as online. WINS actively draws on Washington, DC as a learning laboratory.

WINS History

WINS grew out of a small summer program founded at AU in 1994. The program expanded in 1999, becoming part of American University’s world-renowned Washington Semester Program, which provides a strong academic foundation for experiential learning. Now, WINS serves approximately 100 students each year, in large numbers in the summer, and with smaller enrollment each fall and spring semesters. This program is open to university students interested in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian issues, 2nd semester sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Details on the WINS application are here:

WINS Native Focus

In WINS, we believe leadership education relies upon a multidisciplinary, experiential, and supportive program. WINS attracts experts with backgrounds in diverse academic fields– from the social sciences to the hard sciences—who care about American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian issues. WINS utilizes the knowledge and talents of the American University community as well as the greater Washington DC area, as an integral, extended WINS classroom. The internship site serves as a real-world learning laboratory for new and creative educational opportunities. In seminars, students reflect on ideas and discuss experiences so that they may integrate practical points of reference with theories and research. Throughout program activities, WINS students develop interpersonal skills.

To fulfill our WINS purpose we will strive to help students develop professional knowledge, earn academic credit, and learn leadership skills, while we emphasize communal backgrounds of American Indians/Alaska Natives/Native Hawaiians and the ties that bind diverse cultures together. WINS seeks to motivate students to use their abilities to serve Indian Country and the world in a variety of ways. WINS responds to employer needs by developing a talent pool of individuals available for possible future hire.
WINS is committed to fully participating in the American University community and supporting the institution’s strategic goals. We adhere to the values and plans of AU and share its resources to achieve larger, institutional goals.