Western Carolina University


Image: As part of her Washington internship, senior Margaret
As part of her Washington internship, senior Margaret "Megan" McCollum recently had the chance to meet and interview Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Pentagon.

Four Western Carolina University students are spending the spring semester in Washington D.C., but they are not merely taking in the sights of the nation's capitol.  They are gaining valuable hands-on experience in their fields of study through the University of North Carolina Washington Internship Program.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for students,” Niall Michelsen, head of WCU's department of political science and public affairs, said.  “This gives students the chance to experience the political world both nationally and internationally.  It exposes them to the ‘nitty gritty' of political advocacy and policy making.”

WCU is among 14 of the 16 UNC campuses that participate in the program.  During their internship in Washington, students can earn up to 12 credit hours toward their degree. 

Rebecca Gardner of Sanford is a senior majoring in English with a minor in political science.  Gardner is an intern at C-SPAN's “BookTV”. “I'm participating in one of the most hands-on internships that one can imagine,” she said. “I spend all day every day working alongside the producers and completing the same tasks they complete.” Gardner is a 2002 graduate of Lee County Senior High School.

Margaret McCollum of Oakboro is a senior majoring in social science and history.  McCollum is an intern at the Hudson Institute, a policy research organization. “I am helping to produce and edit papers on Central Asia, Turkey, Russian nuclear forces and policy, U.S.-Australian relations, homeland security cooperation with foreign countries, the defense policies of other major countries and the possible futures for Pakistan,” she said.  McCollum is a 2003 graduate of West Stanly High School.

Maria Segovia Sims of Whittier is a senior majoring in political science and Spanish.  Sims is an intern at the Center for American Progress, a research and educational institution. “I am currently helping with a new project called Decent Work,” she said.  “The project is focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean.  I also attend events that relate to Latin America and write short summaries about what was said, as well as summarizing any morning news that relates to Latin America.” Sims is a 1998 graduate of the International School of Tomorrow in her native country of Paraguay.

Courtney Swartwout of Franklin is a senior majoring in communication and political science. 

Swartwout is working with the Washington office of N.C. Gov. Mike Easley.  “I assist a team of four as they work on behalf of North Carolina and the governor,” she said. “Some of the areas I'll be assisting on include entitlement reforms left over from the end of the 2005 session, early action on the fiscal year 2007 budget, appropriations matters, and tax and revenue issues.”  Swartwout is a 2002 graduate of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia.

The Washington Internship Program is open to juniors and seniors of every major in the UNC system.

For more information about the Washington Internship Program, contact Niall Michelsen, department head of political science and public affairs, at (828) 227-3862.

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Last modified: Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University