Inside Washington Seminar Sparks Student’s Passion for Politics

Inside Washington Seminar Sparks Student’s Passion for Politics

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Heather Swicke
January 05, 2012

Heather Swicke, a student from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, attended the 2012 Inside Washington Seminar to get a taste of the nation’s capital during the presidential season. Not sure what was in store for her, she took a leap of faith and discovered that Washington, D.C. agreed with her. She provides her perspective on her experience during the two-week seminar.


A Unique, Unmatched Experience in the Nation’s Capital

I was never a political junkie; far from it. I wanted to be more involved with the American political scene, but it rarely kept my attention. So when my university asked me to head to The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) for a two-week academic seminar, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know how well I’d fare among a hundred or so political science majors as a journalism major. But I accepted. I took a chance, hopped on a plane, and landed in D. C. two days into the New Year.


After a few days, I realized that the seminar was nothing like I had imagined. The students were friendly, the faculty was welcoming, and the Metro was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I participated in group discussions and gave my opinion on topics I had been clueless about prior to my arrival in D. C. I even got up and asked Ann Compton a question, someone I have always admired. She’s just as fabulous in person.


TWC’s programs are unlike anything else I had come across in the seminar realm because it is smack dab in the middle of D. C. It’s not hundreds of miles away, discussing what’s going on in Capitol Hill. It’s right here, close to some of the most important buildings and political figures in our nation. The speakers we heard from and the sights we saw were incredible, and it could have only happened in D. C.


Something Special for Everyone

I met students from every corner of the country and from all around the world. Everyone from freshmen to graduate students participated, and every single one of them could take away something from the experience:


  • For me, the benefits of hearing famous political journalists talk about their passions made me realize that despite the shaky landscape of the field, a job in the media is something I want to pursue. As a junior, that was a refreshing realization.
  • For someone on the brink of graduating, a two-week seminar is the perfect opportunity to get a feel for another city, especially if D. C. is where he or she hopes to migrate after school.
  • For someone just starting out, Inside Washington is a great way to test the political waters, especially if he or she is teetering on becoming a political science major.

Sometimes All It Takes Is a Spark

In addition to the memorable sights we visited and the big-name speakers we met, I will always have the strong relationships that I created with my roommates. They were three girls from all over the country who I bonded with instantly. We talked about our opinions, our government, and our futures. We were from all over the political spectrum, but we became great friends by the end of the trip. For me, that represented the beauty of this country and of this government. Our differences made the trip that much richer, just as it does in our country.


The air in D. C. felt charged with possibility, with history and with determination. Especially in the midst of a presidential campaign season, the whole city seemed to be holding its breath in anticipation of what’s to come. And it was tangible, palpable. Like nothing I had ever felt before. And that’s something that a political science major, an engineering major, and everyone in between should and can experience.


In a span of two weeks, my eyes were opened to topics I had never heard about, interests I never knew I had, and friendships I would never forget. And I’m proud to say that on the last day of the trip, I changed my minor to political science. Sometimes all it takes is a spark.


[View photos from Inside Washington '12 Week 1 on our Flickr channel]

[View photos from Inside Washington '12 Week 2 on our Flickr channel]


Heather Swicke is a junior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She is a journalism major and a political science minor. Swicke is the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and in her spare time tutors students at a local high school.

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More