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Here are our Top Stories of 2018

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Washington Semester Program students on the set of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

This year at the School of Professional & Extended Studies, our students and alumni truly demonstrated what it means to have excellence from ages 17 to 70. Across our five undergraduate and graduate-level internship programs, students spent a total of 93,888 hours interning at congressional offices, NGOs, think tanks, nonprofits and other influential organizations across the Washington DC area.

2018 was also the year that our honorary alumni chair, Donna Shalala, was elected to Congress alongside 100+ women across the United States. Sonita Alizadeh, an English Language & Training Academy student, gained worldwide notoriety as a recipient of MTV’s first-ever Global Changemaker Award. And, if that wasn’t all, our students reported on the Kavanaugh hearings, wrote articles in professional publications about being first-time voters, and one even had the chance to interview Snoop Dog’s publicist.

2018 also marks our inaugural graduating class of online master's degree students. In just a couple of weeks, grad students of our Human Resources & Analytics, Sports Analytics & Management, and Healthcare Management programs will walk across the stage with fellow AU graduates at the College of Arts and Sciences.

We are proud of our students and our audience of readers who followed along. Need to catch up? Here are our 10 most-read articles of the year.

Our top story: “Women to Watch”

2018 was a bold year for women. From the halls of politics to the big screen, to the board rooms, courtrooms, newsrooms, and prominent organizations across the country - women called attention to abuses of power, diversified narratives, and occupied interdisciplinary leadership positions to stir meaningful change.

Here at American University, we too had our movement. For the first time in its 125 year history, our institution inaugurated its first woman president, Sylvia Burwell, a former President Obama cabinet member. In response, SPExS celebrated the achievements and milestones made by our own female trailblazers. Read more on the eight women at SPExS and AU who are making a difference in their communities today.

#2: American University Offers ICF-Accredited Executive Coaching Program

We take pride in the fact that our program offerings nurture students from ages 17 to 70 (and then some). Among our hybrid academic programs is our leadership coaching course for those seeking to deepen their skills or pivot into a different field. One part online and another part in person, the Executive Coaching program is designed to meet the needs of mid-career professionals who want to keep their day jobs while leveling up in their careers.

Executive Coaching at American University


Watch content from one of our SPExS Top Stories.

#3: American University Launches Career Directions Program for Online Students

In that same vein, we’re committed as a School to innovate our academic offerings to match the competitive needs of employers and industries. That’s why this year we launched a program to help our students develop their professional careers in lock-step with their academic curriculum. Learn more about how we do this.

#4: A Running Start: This WSP alumna is Helping Change the Face of Politics

Tracy Hanqing is like a lot of incredible students who pass through our halls: she’s bold, innovative, and wholly motivated to make a difference not only in Washington, DC, but in our country overall. While interning for Running Start and studying within the American Politics concentration of our hallmark Washington Semester program, Tracy learned a few things about forging her career path - and inspiring other women while she’s at it.

#5: From Washington to Montreal: A Fulfilling Career in Lifelong Learning

Sadly, this year also marked the departure of our founding dean, Dr. Carola Weil. Although our story featuring her was a bittersweet farewell, it was also a reminder of the path Dr. Weil paved for our School.

"We have created something here that cuts across disciplines, that cuts across different audiences, and that depends and builds upon relationships with others," Dr. Weil said.

Learn more about how Dr. Weil was part of a movement that continues to redefine the future of the workplace and of lifelong learning - both within and outside of American University.

#6: The American University GAP Program: A Launchpad for College and Lifelong Success

Even pre-college students, who have yet to decide where their academic or career paths will take them, have a place here at AU. Our GAP program is a competitive track for those across the country who are looking to get a jumpstart before setting off to college. Like so many of our undergraduate experiential learning programs, students of the GAP program make DC their classroom. Learn more about this offering for high school graduates.

#7: Three Ways Evaluation Skills can Boost Any Career

Our faculty offer expertise from a wide array of industries and academic thought. Dr. Mindelyn Anderson, a professor for our online graduate program in Measurement & Evaluation, used her know-how to define three ways that evaluation skills can help just about any professional along their career path. What is evaluation, you ask? Check out her article!

#8: From Online to In-Person: Inaugural Immersion Experience Offers Community and Connection

American University has many successful online programs, but for the first time our School let our digitally-driven students experience the campus and Washington, DC in person. Dr. Robert Stokes, our Human Resources analytics professor and program director, walks us through a play-by-play of this inaugural conference and how online students can join us in the future.

#9: American University Launches Pegasystems Training Course

This year, our school touched down on the tech world with the launch of the first training program of its kind in the DMV region. Pegasystems is a widely used software system, and our training program addresses the demand for specialized technology and development professionals.

"In the job market now, just learning to be a Java coder isn't enough. Now, you need to have [experience with] newer technology so you can build enterprise-ready applications," said Clay Richardson, our program instructor. Learn more about what we’ve been up to.

#10: Capstone Feature: Using Measurement & Evaluation to Improve Communities

Jillian Klarman, a master’s degree graduate and World Bank financial assistant, used the knowledge obtained from this program to inspire meaningful changes to how the organization Young Professionals in Foreign Policy operated. Learn more about how she and other M&E alumni are making a difference.