Washington Semester students at the Freedom Forum InstituteMadison Parker
Public Health policy

February 13, 2019 | Hello everyone! My name is Madison and my passion for healthcare led me to study Public Health at Clemson. I knew I wanted to spend a semester at American University after my parents and I visited DC this summer. Despite the fact that we were only here for less than 48 hours, I absolutely fell in love with the city. I came to Washington this semester to immerse myself in the rich culture as well as the political atmosphere to learn about the policy side of healthcare.

The Washington Semester Program is unique in that we intern three days a week while maintaining status as full-time students. The curriculum in WSP consists of two seminar classes, an internship class, and an optional elective class. As a Public Health Policy concentration, my seminar classes are U.S. Politics and Policy and Human Development and Global Issues, and I am also enrolled in the Political Communication elective.

A big focus of the Washington Semester Program is going on site visits. For my Political Communication class, we went to the Newseum for a panel discussion on the United States paying ransom for journalists. Diane Foley, whose son was beheaded by the Islamic state, and David Rohde, who was kidnapped by the Taliban, were two of the guests of the night. At the end of the panel discussion, I went up to Mr. Rohde to introduce both myself and my class. Mr. Rohde and Ms. Foley were excited to meet us and even gladly posed for a group photo with us. Through experiences like this one, I have learned that everyone in Washington got to where they are with help, and usually they are so kind and willing as to return the favor to you.

Washington Semester student Madison Parker at the Women's MarchOne of the experiences I have found most unique to DC was the events the day of the Women’s March. I was ecstatic to go to the Women’s March as I have wanted to go every year since the first march three years ago but never had the opportunity. It was empowering to be surrounded by so many strong women standing up for a better future. My roommates and I marched with arms linked, laughing, crying, smiling, and dancing.

This adventure so far has been an amazing one. I cannot believe it has already been four weeks since I moved in. I have learned so much about the city, policy, and even myself, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store. Until next time!