Luther Students study politics in Washington D.C.
December 4, 2016
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Three students from Luther have spent the fall semester in Washington, D.C. as a part of Lutheran College Washington Consortium: Bakhita Goncalves Soares (‘18), Cierra Buckner (‘18) and Brigid Burke (‘18).
Despite the fact that the Washington Semester is not necessarily oriented towards academic studies, according to Soares, the classes she took at Luther helped her in Washington, D.C.
“There are so many lessons that we learned in the classes,” Soares said. “I have an idea of what is going on when my bosses are talking about something because I had previous knowledge about it, about the process of a policy and what the issue is about.”
According to Soares, during the Washington Semester program, Lutheran College Washington Consortium offers relate to the interests of a particular student. Soares has an internship in the field of environmental policy, whereas other students may participate in the internships related to various advocacy and governmental groups.
While the program is primarily for political science majors, students had different reasons for enrolling into the program. Buckner wanted to spend a semester at Howard University, but for a variety of reasons the Lutheran College Washington Semester was a good compromise.
“I was so excited about the prospect of having an internship in the nation’s capital,” Buckner said. “I am working as the arts intern at the D.C. Center for the LGBT community. The position has given me countless opportunities to apply different social work skills to real life situations.”
According to Burke her major partially influenced her decision to go to Washington for a semester.
“I am a political science major, so it just made sense for me to go to D.C.,” Burke said. “Additionally, I wanted to be in D.C. for the election.”
Students study, participate in internships and interact with people integral in their political fields as part of the consortium.
“[The] internship is a big chunk of the program,” Soares said. “Also we have field trips every week and different activities that we do. All of them very informative. [The people we meet] are people who are experts in their fields. We had a woman who was in Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement, so it was interesting [to look] at her experience.”
Burke elaborated on how the academic environment at Washington, D.C. differs from Luther.
“There is not really an academic environment,” Burke said. “The program focuses on the work experience with the internship.”
Buckner further explained the way academics are organized during the semester in Washington, D.C.
“Our classes only meet once a week and many of us come from different academic backgrounds,” Bucker said. “That said, although I think diversity of thought is incredibly important, it has been a challenge to have a cohesive learning environment. The work experience I have gained through my internship is incomparable.”