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Winter seminar gives students immersive experience in the nation’s capital

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Category: academics Video duration: Winter seminar gives students immersive experience in the nation’s capital

The US Congressional Oversight in Action course gave undergraduates real world exposure into the careers and actions of government oversight in Washington, D.C. Students met with almost 50 professionals employed by more than 20 organizations during two weeks of the winter session. 

We had about two weeks here in January, and we are using that time to bring folks who are based in Blacksburg during the academic year to Washington DC. And to expose them to all of the really interesting stuff that's going on. We went all around DC to the Congressional offices and to different places like American Enterprise institutes, CREW, a lot of like big think tanks and organizations. And we heard from people from like the INR, We went to NASA headquarters. So that was amazing, Touring the NBC studios was really cool for me, you get to experience all these organizations firsthand, up close. It was a really valuable experience. You can learn about American government from an intro to government class or a presidency class. But that sort of textbook learning doesn't really tell you how interesting government is in action. And so we called this US Congressional Oversight in Action. The idea is that people every day are showing up to different types of jobs around Washington DC, and NGO's and government agencies on the hill. And they're doing public service, many varieties of public service that people don't in college wouldn't necessarily have had a chance to learn about. There's so much more to the federal government and to Congress than like we really even know. I knew this class would definitely offer something more unique. The experience has been great because I never thought I would meet these high ranking officials from different agencies and talk about Congressional oversight. So being able to talk to them and interact with them was really like, truly powerful and also like it encouraged me. And it made me think of all these career opportunities that I hadn't thought of before and see them as a possibility for myself. It really is a very busy two weeks, but I don't remember the last time I learned this much in two weeks and had this much professional experience like one on one with some really important people. Virginia Tech is a land grant university and I take that to heart. I like many of my colleagues in the Center for Public Administration Policy, in the School of Public International Affairs, really feel that we embrace the university mission of service. And that this is a version of that. That building bridges to public service careers through experiences like this. That is really, to me, a critical part of the land grant mission.