by Colin Colter, Duke Federal Relations
President Trump is not the only one rounding out 100 days in a new city. Students in the Duke in DC study-away program also have been hard at work finding their feet in the nation’s capital.
Begun in 2013 under the direction of Kristin Goss, associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, the undergraduate program offers students the chance to translate their academic work into policy work through a combination of coursework and part-time internships.
For many students, it has been their first time in the whirlwind of American politics. “Before this semester, I had not spent any time working in D.C. or in government/politics,” said public policy major Anna Huck (T ’18). “I was thrilled that Duke offered the Duke in DC program so I could not only gain experience working in politics but also closely examine the day to day happenings in Washington through our classes.”
The program’s structure and its high-demand environment makes for “an incredible lens through which to examine the academic and practical components of public policy,” Huck said.
The students have become well-versed in the varieties of learning opportunities that make DC unusual.
“Everyone in D.C. is so aware of what is going on in the White House and Congress,” said public policy major Anna Huck (T ’18). “With such an unconventional and unpredictable administration, I’ve learned so much by simply listening to the reactions of my co-workers, our guest speakers and my peers. During the first 100 days of this administration, there has certainly always been something to talk about.”
For many of the students, the recent election has set off a storm of activity and interest. Wright said, “I think that the recent election sparked a sense of urgency for those who want to help improve our government in addition to those who are excited to have the chance to work under the Trump administration. I don't think there's been a better time to be in Washington.”
“It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you are on, there's always been something to learn about or teach others about.”
Finding the center of the action in D.C. can be challenging at times. But a front-row seat in Capitol Hill offices gave several students a memorable experience. For political science major Nick Young (T ’18), who interned for West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (T ’75), “working during Trump’s first 100 days… offers a new set of differences but it is all very exciting. You never know what the president is going to say that’s going to set off the next wave of phone calls and give you an opportunity to research the subject and write a form letter to reply to them all.
“Talking to the constituents during this period has provided me with an insight on how people feel about very relevant issues such as healthcare and various Cabinet nominees…My whole life I will be able to say that I worked in the government during Trump’s first 100 days.”
More about the Duke in DC program