Braving new challenges, Miami's Inside Washington Program concludes a successful summer in Washington DC

Inside Washington students outside the U.S. Capitol Building, summer 2021

This summer, 19 Miami undergraduates from a spectrum of majors spent an exhilarating ten weeks in Washington, DC for the university’s renowned Inside Washington Program -- one of the few such Miami programs that was able to proceed this year despite the ongoing pandemic.

Since 2019 the program has been run by Annie Blair, senior clinical lecturer of journalism in the Department of Media, Journalism & Film (MJF). She also served as the instructor this summer.

Inside Washington engages students all summer on numerous field trips, research experiences, and small-group interactions with an array of Washington insiders, many of whom are Miami alumni. This summer, the discussions included such figures as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Communications Director at Office of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) Annie Clark ’12, House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, The Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, U.S. Dept of Justice attorney Andrew Doyle ‘93, and Acting Chief Policy Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission Kate Black ‘06.

Students meet with Miami alums Rhys Williams, acting director of DOD Threat Reduction Agency, and his wife, Cherylynne Williams, COVID-19 director for DOE.

Students held internships four days a week all summer throughout DC -- at congressional offices, think tanks, news media and political consulting agencies, nonprofits, and lobbying firms.

“Fifteen internship hosts noted on final evaluations that, if a job were open right now, it’s ‘highly likely’ they would hire their intern,” said Blair.

This summer’s Inside Washington student participants were:

  • Joseph Burtzlaff (Strategic Communication; Political Science) - interned at American Counseling Association
  • Kailey Dean (Strategic Communication; Political Science) - interned at American Legislative Exchange Council
  • Lauren Doepke (Environmental Earth Science; M.En Program) - interned at Ferox Strategies
  • Waverly Dooling (Economics; Political Science) - interned at Partnership for Responsible Growth
  • Nicolas Hollander Tineo (Political Science; East Asian Languages & Cultures) - interned at Organization of American States
  • Michael Inguanta (Accountancy; Political Science) - interned at U.S. Rep Brian Mast, R-Florida
  • Corrine Jeffries (Public Administration; Urban & Regional Planning) - interned at Miami ASPIRE and Walker’s Legacy Foundation
  • Caitlin Johnson (History; Political Science) - interned at The Ripon Society
  • Wilson Maier (Combined BA-MA Program in Political Science) - interned at Thrasio
  • Emmi Mattern (Psychology) - interned at Miami ASPIRE and Walker’s Legacy Foundation
  • Addison Murtha (Political Science; Urban & Regional Planning) - interned at Hance Scarborough LLP
  • Ruku Pal (Business Economics) - interned at Hart Research Associates
  • Jake Pankoff (Business Marketing) - interned at American Legislative Exchange Council
  • Ashleigh Reichert (Philosophy; Sustainability co-major) - interned at Miami ASPIRE and Walker’s Legacy Foundation
  • Caroline Riley (Strategic Communication; International Relations) - interned at Capital Area Food Bank
  • Halle Sarkisian (Diplomacy & Global Politics; Political Science) - interned at U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Morgan Schneider (Journalism; Environmental Science) - interned at Voice of America
  • Ameen Seck (Public Administration) - interned at Judge Nancy Gertner of Harvard Law School; Guttman, Buschner and Brooks LLC
  • Logan Sicker (Political Science) - interned at U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona

Students talk with U.S. Rep Jim Clyburn, House Majority Whip, in the Lincoln Room of the U.S. Capitol building.

Inside Washington partnered with Miami’s Digital Innovation Centers debut program in DC to facilitate shared programming, student housing, and faculty interdisciplinary collaboration.

“It took an absolute village to help students get internships this summer, as due to the pandemic most DC agencies and even senators are able to hire few if any interns,” Blair said.

She gave special thanks to Randi Thomas and Sara Linder (from Miami’s ASPIRE office), College of Arts and Science Dean Chris Makaroff, Senior Director of Development Mike Scott, Education Abroad Director Ryan Dye, MJF chair Bruce Drushel, and Political Science chair Bryan Marshall, all for their unwavering support.

“Throughout the whole experience, one thing has been constant: a concerted effort to push beyond my comfort zone,” said Ruku Pal, a senior majoring in Business Economics, and minoring in Political Science and Global Health.

Waverly Dooling, a Political Science and Economics double major, said of her summer in D.C.: “Overall, Inside Washington has reduced my future uncertainty by at least 90%. I am more aware now than ever that I can pursue many passions over the tenure of my life.”

The next Inside Washington program will be held in spring 2022 and taught by Associate Professor of Journalism Rosemary Pennington.