Each year, the Day on the Hill program takes students inside governmental organizations, non-profits, NGOs and other Washington, D.C. institutions for three days of experiential insight into politics, policy and more. And every year, says Associate Professor of Political Science DeWayne Lucas, “it seems this program gets better and better.
“Former students are now doing such exciting and important work in Washington and can’t wait to share their experiences and advice with us,” Lucas says. “From working in the CIA to resisting the status quo through CodePINK, our graduates play significant and important roles in the nation’s decision-making processes and hearing about their experiences was very inspiring and momentous to me as their former professor but more importantly to our students, as they plot their future careers. After nine years, I think that we cannot possibly top the previous year, yet we continue to do so.”
Day on the Hill 2015 kicked off Monday, Jan. 12 with a keynote lecture by John Sipher ’83, Project Lead at the McChrystal Group and retired member of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Senior Intelligence Service. Sipher’s lecture was followed by a day of panel discussions with HWS alums, covering everything from partisanship to defense and safety, to policy and advocacy, to life off the Hill.
The event — led by Lucas, Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman and Jackie Doyle, Associate Director of Employer Development at the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education — developed initially out of a suggestion from then-seniors Hadley Sosnoff ’06 and Will Cox ’06, “mostly because they thought it would have helped them,” says Deutchman, “and I often think how right they were! They deserve a lot of the credit for the initial idea. Now that we’re working on year 10, we can look at the program’s participants and see how many of them are themselves Day on the Hill alums. That about says it all.”
“We couldn’t do such a successful program without people like Jackie Doyle, Assistant Director for Employer Development Ami Cammarota Ford ’00, and Assistant Director for Regional Programming Kirsten Burrall, helping out,” Deutchman adds. “And the help and generosity of HWS President Mark D. Gearan, which makes everything possible!”
“This trip was not only enjoyable, but also informative and extremely helpful,” says Corinne Kenny ’17. “It was a once in a lifetime trip which helped me establish some great connections for use down the road.”
“Each year, I’m impressed with the students that participate in the program and it’s been extremely rewarding to see so many of those students transition to fascinating jobs in diverse fields in Washington, D.C.,” Sosnoff says. “We’re also very fortunate to have so many committed HWS alums willing to extend their experiences and counsel about Washington, D.C.”
Monday night at the Majority Group, a lobbying firm where Sosnoff is a partner and managing director, a reception was held for Day on the Hill participants, offering students an opportunity to connect with speakers from the day’s events, as well as alums and other students.
“The Day on the Hill program gives students a unique opportunity to socialize and learn about what it takes to succeed in D.C. from our fantastic alums,” says Nick Donovan ’15, a political science major and Middle Eastern studies minor. “Furthermore it allows for HWS to maintain a strong presence on Capitol Hill.”
The second day began with a tour of Secret Service Headquarters with Stuart Hillenbrand ’04, of the Vice Presidential Protective Division. During the site visits later in the day, students took an inside look at lobbying groups and think tanks, public relations firms and The Washington Post. They visited the moderate-Republican Ripon Society and the conservative Heritage Foundation, the UN Foundation and the Council on Foundations, and more.
“From a Career Services perspective, this program was designed for students to get an inside perspective of careers in politics and government to help them better formulate plans for their own path,” says Doyle. “Gaining clarity of career options leads to meaningful internships during their college years, which makes them more marketable to potential employers when they graduate.”
“It was awesome how hard Career Services worked organizing and putting together the program,” says Dom Miller ’15, a political science major and anthropology and Asian studies double minor. Miller was “interested in the connections I’d be able to make with strong alums that we have in D.C. The trip exceeded my expectations and gave me a lot of new opportunities to meet alums and options in terms of what I want to do next.”
Tuesday evening, the Alumni House Reception at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center offered students and alums the chance to interact in a more informal setting.
“Our students got insiders’ perspectives on Washington and D.C. jobs and demonstrated to alums their own intellectual insights and youthful enthusiasm,” says Lucas. “The significance of the Day on the Hill however is not just hearing talks and seeing the quality of our current students, but is connecting former students and current students with one another and finding ways for the graduates to help the current students along their way. All of our alums wanted to do that and all of our students were grateful for the assistance. Seeing that in action was the best part of the program to me.”
The final day concluded with a tour of the FBI Headquarters, hosted by Kris Graham ’00 and Beth Beers ’83. And thanks to Jennifer Lowe — whose husband Stephen Wishod ’87 is a Hobart grad — participants also had the opportunity to see a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in the Mellouli v. Holder case.