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Washington Center Internships Engage Three Civic-Minded Friends

Posted on 12/6/2016 9:18:23 AM

In fall, three Cabrini friends interned at the Washington Center in Washington, DC: Criminology major Samantha Negron (’18), History major Sara Smith (’18), and Political Science major Owen Johnson (’18).

Like Cabrini, the Washington Center encourages students to be socially engaged leaders who are eager to make a difference in their communities—one of the reasons why Cabrini faculty foster a partnership with the Center and incite students to intern there. Through internships at the Washington Center, students receive an integrated academic and work experience, taking classes, interning, and participating in activities.

All three students heard about the opportunity through Cabrini professors; Negron through Associate Professor of Social Justice Nancy Watterson, PhD; Smith through Professor of History Jim Hedtke, PhD; and Johnson through Professor Hedtke and Professor of History and Political Science Darryl Mace, PhD, both of whom helped with his application process for the internship.

Students at the Lincoln MemorialSara Smith ('18), Owen Johnson ('18), and Samantha Negron

“We encouraged each other to go, knowing that is a great opportunity to hopefully decide what we would like to do within our majors,” said Negron, who was placed with the Internal Affairs Division with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

At her internship, she acted as a liaison to the United States Attorney’s Office by receiving and responding to requests for administrative and confidential investigations. She spent her days reviewing, researching, and uploading investigations onto a secure database—when she wasn't going on a MPD helicopter ride or a harbor patrol boat ride, that is.

“I learned how to master the office scanner and how to give a firm handshake,” Negron jokes. But she also learned the camaraderie among the department and was welcomed as an equal by everyone in the office.

“I have taken advice from a few officers about not settling and going for what I want most in life, whether that means going for my master’s degree or trying to get a job in the federal government,” she said.

“I chose to apply because I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to be in a city with such influential power,” said Smith, who was placed at the Ethiopian Community Development Council, a refugee resettlement agency in Silver Spring, MD. Her responsibilities included taking clients to and from appointments all throughout Maryland, teaching them the transit system so that they can quickly become self-sufficient, and helping to ensure that their children are enrolled in school and have uniforms.

“What has surprised me the most is how quickly I adapted to life in the city and how much I love my internship,” Smith said. “I was nervous with the immediate responsibility, but I embraced the experience. I worked with people from all over the world and every single person I've met, I love.”

Johnson’s position with the Palladium Group—a development management firm providing foreign aid in a number of sectors including health and nutrition, governance, economic development, environment, and gender inclusion—taught him the complexity of a large global company. At his internship, he researched information for current and future projects that Palladium is seeking, attended think tank events, and staged meetings, among other responsibilities.

“It was such a fast pace,” Johnson said. “Both the city and my internship was a whirlwind.”

The fast-paced environment of the students’ internships drove them to stay on their toes, be flexible, and roll with the punches.

“Sometimes, you ended up on the wrong bus going in the opposite direction,” Smith said. “Sometimes, you gave up part of your nights to make sure the clients get home safely. I've definitely learned to have more patience, how to be quick on my feet, and to be prepared.”

Students in Washington, DC

Negron and Smith shared an apartment together during their internship, and they often got together with Johnson to explore DC, including all the free museums.

“Exploring the city with your best friends and meeting new people is the most amazing experience I could have ever asked for,” Smith said.

“Getting to live in DC has been one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had, and being able to spend my time with my good friends Sara and Sam made this experience even better,” Johnson said. “If anyone is ever given this opportunity, I would highly suggest doing it.”