Spotlight: Texas Christian University Political Science Partnership

Spotlight: Texas Christian University Political Science Partnership

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Maha Neouchy
April 21, 2014

Founded in 1873, Texas Christian University (TCU) is home to 83,000 alumni and the Horned Frogs. Enrolling nearly 10,000 undergraduates and graduates every year, the university works toward educating individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. As a part of fulfilling that mission, TCU’s political science department partnered with The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) to provide students with competitive internship and academic seminar opportunities.


How did the partnership begin?


Rewind back to 1977 when Dr. Eugene Alpert, a former TWC Senior Vice President, was teaching as a political science professor at TCU. He learned about the program after receiving a pamphlet from TWC's founder William Burke. TWC's internship program appealed to the university because of all the services offered: academic courses, guaranteed housing in the heart of Washington, D.C., and tailored internship placements with federal, media, nonprofit and corporate sector organizations. In addition, the internship program would give students attending TCU the opportunity to work and receive professional experience outside of the state of Texas.


By the fall of 1978, TCU sent its first group of students to TWC - and each fall since then, the institution has sent more. TCU's top juniors and seniors enjoy professional experiences in the nation's capital, and for many, the experience prove transformational.


Partnership with TCU’s Political Science Department


More than three decades ago, and Dr. Adam Schiffer, now a TWC liaison, became one in a long line of TCU political science professors who have worked to keep the doors to TWC open to TCU students. But the door doesn't open for just anyone: an interested student must be chosen for TCU's intern class a full year in advance. In addition to needing a high GPA, students must be screened for writing ability and knowledge of politics. According to Dr. Schiffer, TCU's interns have a reputation for high levels of professionalism, intelligence and work ethic. When he visits his students at their internship sites in Washington, "it is not unusual for their supervisors to ask me to send future TCU interns their way."


Dr. Schiffer also discussed the special change he witnesses in his students, "both personally and professionally, during their semester in Washington. The internships serve as an invaluable tool for gaining skills and connections and for assessing whether the competitive world of politics suits their aptitudes and interests. Those who decide to pursue a political career have a leg up on the competition."


Fall 2013 Intern Reminisces About Her Time at TWC


Abby TerHaar is a political science major at TCU and completed an internship in the Office of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) last fall. She wanted to intern in Washington since she found her natural skill for lobbying at the age of eight. When she was a freshman at TCU, she traveled to Washington with representatives from TCU and heard Jim and Kate Lehrer speak during TWC's weekly Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series. After interning in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate the summer before her TWC program, she was extended an offer to stay with the Office of Senator Mary Landrieu. "It has been a great experience. I have been able to continue working with the legislative assistants in our office, specifically on adoption issues and human rights," TerHaar said, adding that her "experience on the Hill is more valuable than a lot of things I learn in a classroom. I'm so happy TCU has this partnership…I've made good friends and there are so many students from around the world. I love being able to get an international perspective."


The seven political science students from TCU who completed the fall 2013 TWC internship program include:


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

Learn More