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Part-Time Grad Student Works Full-Time in Senate

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Dan Chaison

Dan Chaison has a packed schedule. He is the military legislative correspondent in Senator Gary C. Peters’ office, taking classes part-time at American University School of Communication (AU SOC) in the political communication master’s program, and as one of four Simpson fellows at SOC, Chaison helps manage an online database for quotations on a number of topics like politics, business, and entertainment.

Chaison said he enjoys working on a wide range of issues on any given day in Senator Peters’ office, from combat vehicles and cyber security to human rights and supporting refugees. He said as an Army veteran, he wanted to work for a Senator who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I get to stay abreast of a lot of ongoing global events, but I also dive really deep on certain things, and I’m lucky to hear directly from subject matter experts,” Chaison said.

Chaison said as someone who is both working full-time and going to school, he appreciates that the political communication program offers a lot of different classes at a variety of times allowing him to fit it into a busy schedule.

Chaison and the other Simpson fellows worked together to revamp the website this semester, he said.

“It’s a lot of fun to work with such a talented group,” Chaison said. “We designed a new format and visual aesthetic for the site to make it more accessible.”

He said he feels lucky to have “really great professors” for his first semester at AU.

“My Public Policy professor is a former Senate staffer, so it's really awesome to learn from someone who has been on the same path I'm on. My Research for Strategic Communications professor has a ton of marketing and strategic communications experience in the private sector and in government, so she's been fascinating to listen to,” Chaison said.

Chaison said he likes the political communication program because it directly relates to his work in the Senate. He is looking forward to taking a speech writing class next semester.

“A huge part of my job, as well as this degree, is taking data or really complex policy issues and turning them into relatable content that connects well for memos, statements, and letters,” Chaison said.

He said one aspect of the program he likes in particular is that if he does leave DC, he knows the skills he’s gained from the program will apply to other career paths, like working in the private sector or on a campaign.