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Frequently Asked Questions

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Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS)
202-895-4879
Fax: 202-895-4884
wins@american.edu

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS)
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
WSP WINS Hero

"I feel that this experience is a vital part of the circle known as my life."
Beatriz Reyes
Navajo/University of Oklahoma

Question: What classes will I take?

Answer: WINS undergraduate students take a course on Indigenous Affairs- focusing on innovative academic research and policy debates on indigenous peoples' issues. The course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach and incorporates lectures and workshops, and is completed by visits and speakers from the United Nations and indigenous peoples' and state institutions.

WINS undergraduate students also take an internship seminar course that supports the internship. The undergraduate internship seminar is designed as a complement to the internship experience, providing an academic framework, learning objectives, career research, and an opportunity for personal and professional reflective thought. You will integrate knowledge derived from your academic studies with the experiences gained from real-world work settings and professional development. This calss will support these work experiences bu fostering analytical, interpersonal, and communications skills.

WINS graduate students take a course on Indigenous Development- focusing on the manner in which indigenous knowledge and experience can ehp shape a sustainable path for development, rooted in culture and identity. The course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach an incorporates lectures and workshops, and is complemented by visits and speakers form the united Nations and indigenous peoples' and state institutions.

WINS graduate students also take an internship seminar course that supports teh internship. The graduate internship seminar is designed as a complement to the internship experience, providing an academic framework, learning objective, career research, and an opportunity for personal and professional reflective thought. You will integrate knowledge derived from your academic studies with the experiences gained from real-world work settings and professional development. This class will support these work experiences by fostering analytical, interpersonal, and communications skills.

Question: Where will I live?

Answer: WINS students live in a university residence hall at American University. The campus is located near the Tenleytown/AU Metro station (on the red line) in northwest Washington, DC.

Question: What program costs will I have to pay?

Answer: If we are able to match you with a sponsoring internship office, you will only be required to pay a non-refundable $200 program deposit. If you have extra expenses that you cannot meet with your stipend, you may wish to bring supplemental funds or apply for a summer school scholarship from your Tribe (if applicable) as Washington DC is an expensive city. For students not receiving the full scholarship, a current rate sheet will be sent to you.

Question: Your WINS start date is late May/ early June, but my semester is not over until mid-June. Can I still participate in the program?

Answer: Because we require all students to begin the program on time, as the orientation session at the start of the program is an important part of setting you up for success. Therefore, we are unable to accommodate late starts to the program.

Question: If I am chosen for the WINS program, can I intern at the White House or on Capitol Hill?

Answer: At the moment we do not have fully funded internship opportunities at the White House or on Capitol Hill. (Students who do not receive sponsorship can intern anywhere through the Washington Semester Program.) However, some of our students work in the Legislative Liaison or Legislative Affairs office for a federal agency. Thus, they interact with Congress and the White House, monitor legislation, attend hearings, and perform duties similar to a White House or Capitol Hill internship.

Question: How should I prove membership in an AI/AN Tribe?

Answer: Our program is designed to help prepare the future leaders and descendants of Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians. In terms of eligibility, you must be a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe (1), as listed in Federal Register: August 11, 2009 (Volume 74, #153, Notices), a "Native" as defined by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 43 USC 1602(b) (2), or Native Hawaiian as defined by 25 USC 4221, Sec 9 (3), as follows:

1. A member of a federally recognized tribe. (Federal Register: January 14, 2015 (Volume 80 , # 9 Notices] [Page 1943-1948). 

2. A "Native" as defined by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 43 USC 1602(b) ["Native'' means a citizen of the United States who is a person of one-fourth degree or more Alaska Indian (including Tsimshian Indians not enrolled in the Metlaktla Indian Community) Eskimo, or Aleut blood, or combination thereof. The term includes any Native as so defined either or both of whose adoptive parents are not Natives. It also includes, in the absence of proof of a minimum blood quantum, any citizen of the United States who is regarded as an Alaska Native by the Native village or Native group of which he claims to be a member and whose father or mother is (or, if deceased, was) regarded as Native by any village or group. Any decision of the Secretary regarding eligibility for enrollment shall be final]

3. A Native Hawaiian as defined by 25USC4221, Sec 9 (9) Native Hawaiian The term ``Native Hawaiian'' means any individual who is—(A) a citizen of the United States;and (B) a descendant of the aboriginal people, who, prior to 1778, occupied and exercised sovereignty in the area that currently constitutes the State of Hawaii, as evidenced by—(i) genealogical records;(ii) verification by kupuna (elders) or kama`aina (longterm community residents);or (iii) birth records of the State of Hawaii. (Pub. L. 104-330, title VIII, Sec. 801, as added Pub. L. 106-568, title II, Sec. 203, Dec. 27, 2000, 114 Stat. 2876, and Pub. L. 106-569, title V, Sec. 513, Dec. 27, 2000, 114 Stat. 2969.) With regard to acceptable documents, we accept copies of the enrollment card, Tribally Issued Identification card, Certificate of Enrollment, or similar as proof of tribal membership. Each American Indian and Alaska Native nation has its own requirements for enrollment. If you are not already enrolled as a member of a Tribe, this would be the first step to take before applying to WINS. You should contact the Tribe directly for enrollment application and procedures.If you are a descendent of an enrolled tribal member but are not eligible for enrollment (for instance if your father is enrolled but enrollment is matrilineal) we may still consider your application if your Tribe is willing to write a letter of support. For Native Hawaiians, we will accept any birth records that documents your connection to the Native Hawaiian community. Please check with the WINS office about your specific situation before applying.

Question: Is there a minimum Degree of Blood requirement to participate in the WINS Program?

Answer: No. We only require membership in/affiliation with a Tribe or group. Each Tribe, as a sovereign nation, sets its own membership requirements. We accept a copy of a Tribal enrollment card, Tribally Issued Identification card, Certificate of Enrollment, or similar identification as proof of tribal membership. For Native Hawaiians, we will accept any birth records that documents your connection to the Native Hawaiian community.

Question: How can I get the Tribal nomination letter?

Answer: A member of the Tribal Council or Director of a Tribal government office (usually the Higher Education office) writes this letter of recommendation. It can be general or specific, and is required to demonstrate to the WINS program that you maintain a connection with your tribal government beyond enrollment.

Question: Do you accept letters from other American Indian or Alaska Native organizations?

Answer: We prefer a letter from your Tribal government, but if for some reason you cannot get a letter, please include a short note on your application explaining this. We may be able to accept another letter of recommendation from an Indian organization, such as a Native Student college advisor or an official at an Urban Indian center. However, these letters are not weighed as heavily as one from your nation. We have found that most Tribal Nations tend to be happy to write a nomination letter for their members so long as you give them adequate notice and do not forget to include information that they may not know, such as your current major and grade point average, or your career goals.

Question: Are freshmen eligible for the program?

Answer: No. In general we do not accept applicants who still have sophomore standing during the period of their enrollment in the WINS program. We are able to make exceptions for students who will be a few credits shy of junior standing if they have special skills or significant work experience that will help them compete for internships on an equal footing with other applicants.

Question: How am I matched with an internship office?

Answer: The type of internships available depends on both funding available by the host office and intern office work needs. Offices review candidate resumes, transcripts, and essays to determine if your skills match their work needs. Offices will then make an offer to a potential intern, either directly or via the WINS staff.

Question: What happens if I do not receive an internship placement?

Answer: Students who are not chosen by an office in effect do not have full funding to attend, so they cannot continue in the program unless they pay program costs on their own. However, if you decide to pay the program costs on your own, you are still required to have an internship, and we will continue to work with you to find a placement.

Question: Can married students participate?

Answer: There are no restrictions against married participants or students with children participating. However, the housing available and the amount of money available for housing make it impossible for WINS to cover the housing cost for anyone not enrolled as a WINS participant. (Eligible spouses can both apply and if both are accepted can participate together in the program.) Individuals wishing to bring spouses can pay the additional occupancy cost, if space is available. Children are not allowed in the dorms, however the WINS office can help with referrals to off-campus housing that can accommodate your specific situation. If you choose not to accept the standard WINS accommodation, additional costs and housing arrangements are solely the responsibility of the participant. Please contact the WINS office if you need further details on finding accommodations for family members. In general, the program is so time-consuming that we recommend students plan to attend on their own. Students work five days a week, attend rigorous classes three evenings a week, and must spend additional hours doing class preparation and homework.

Question: What types of internships are available for students interested in pursuing science or health-related careers?

Answer: We have a variety of placements for science, pre-med, or health-related majors. Applicable internships could include:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Indian Health Service
  • Office of Minority Health
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans Health Administration
  • VA Medical Center
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Food and Nutrition Service
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service
  • Food and Drug Administration

Question: Is there a maximum number of times a student can participate in the program?

Answer: Students may participate no more than twice;once, as an undergraduate, and, once, as a graduate student. Candidates can only apply for a second WINS program as long as they are still enrolled in an academic program within the last 6 months, and have satisfactorily completed their internship and academic course work during their first WINS program.