Spotlight: Texas Christian University Schieffer School Partnership

Spotlight: Texas Christian University Schieffer School Partnership

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Maha Neouchy
April 21, 2014

Although TCU's political science department has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with TWC, the Schieffer School in Washington program for journalism and strategic communications majors has only been in place since 2010.


John Lumpkin has coordinated the program since its inception and became an official TWC liaison in 2013. He notes that entry to the Schieffer School program is no small feat. Journalism and strategic communication majors must have junior standing when they apply - a process that begins at least a year in advance of their program start date. Then, students must enroll in classes on campus that will help them graduate on time despite the fact they will spend an entire semester of their senior year in another location. For example: Students who applied for the fall 2013 Schieffer program needed a 3.0 GPA and the ability to graduate in either fall 2014 or spring 2015 to be eligible.


The challenges don't ebb with acceptance. Selected students arrived in Washington, D.C., two weeks before their internships began to a three-credit-hour course called "Media in Washington." Students studied how media organizations affect the political process through research, seminar discussions and site visits. The course - including its deadlines for research papers and other assignments - continued during students' internship terms.


But the rewards are great: at the end of the program, the Schieffer School students participate in a final exercise with CBS's Bob Schieffer. He moderates a televised discussion with the students, during which they demonstrate what they learned about communications, politics and what it's like to live and work in D.C. Because Lumpkin has been part of the program since the beginning, he has witnessed the transformation that the TWC experience has had on every class of Schieffer School program participants: "We have a growing alumni base in Washington at places like POLITICO, National Geographic, Capitol Hill, Face the Nation, and Public Strategies in Washington. In a broader sense, the students have learned how to flourish in a fast-paced, competitive environment in media organizations and/or offices involved in communications. They have been exposed to students from other campuses and other countries. They have assumed responsibility for both full-time work and full-time academics, raising their work ethic to a new standard. They have begun to make connections that may help them when they enter professional life."


Fall 2013 Schieffer School in Washington Interns Share Their Stories


Jake Harris, who interned at The Daily Caller, was excited to spend time in the nation's capital before graduating. He wanted to "see what it was like to live and work in a fast-paced environment" and is considering a move to Washington in the near future. "Coming to TWC presented me with many opportunities that I don't feel I would have had back at TCU. I've been able to sit in on White House press briefings, listen in on conference calls with senators and interview high profile politicians," Harris said. "I feel more prepared for the world as a result of my experience.”


Sam Hassler, a strategic communications major who interned at Public Strategies Washington, says the wonderful things he heard from TCU-TWC alumni were right on target. His favorite part about the experience was having access to a diverse array of neighborhoods and life-changing events such as last August's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington. "Never in my life will I have the opportunity to participate in something so historic," he said, adding that "being plunged into D.C. has sparked a flame of civic duty and national pride that I hope continues to grow as I mature. Evenwhen Congress or the President is acting in a manner with which I do not agree, I now realize how important it is to be engaged and educated on various matters."


TCU has sent more 34 Schieffer School and political science students to participate in TWC's regular internship program, through which they worked with organizations such as the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the U.S. Navy, and CBS News' Washington Bureau. Many of these alumni have graduated and now work in government positions with senators and representatives, for media organizations such as Politico and CBS and for corporations such as Deloitte.


TCU Students Sound Off on Seminars


In past years, TCU students have also taken advantage of TWC’s academic seminars, which are two-week intensive learning experiences that offer in-depth looks into timely issues in public policy, the media, international affairs, national security and electoral politics. For two TCU seminar participants, the opportunity had asting impacts.


Andrew Black is a 1991 TCU graduate and currently the president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL). He participated in a 1988 TWC program associated with the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Black completed a field internship in the press office of Speaker Jim Wright and says that his "experience was an enjoyable eye-opener into the business of politics and elections." He has spent much of his post-TCU career in Washington, D.C., holding roles in both government and business organizations and making an impact on major policy decisions such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011. His advice for both current and future students completing either an internship or academic seminar: "Keep your eyes open, learn about new things, work hard to prove yourself and play well with others. You never know who you might work for or want to hire later. I always remember Dr. Gene Alpert advising the 1988 delegation from TCU to 'become an expert in something,' and he was right. I have implemented that by trying to develop skills and experiences in two or more subject matters or venues.”


Jay Warren is a two-time TWC seminar and internship alumnus. He completed his first experience in July 1992 when he participated in the Democratic National Convention in New York City, assisting in the production of Larry King's daily show on CNN.  Warren met Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson and Tom Brokaw and "had behind the scenes access to one of the most electric and momentous conventions of modern history."


He attended a TWC program again in the fall of 1993 when he interned in the White House Media Affairs Department. Warren aided in the development of a Radio Talk Show event on the north lawn, assisting with the president's weekly radio address and setting up interviews with elected officials to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement. Other highlights of Warren's experience included being in the Health Care War Room after President Clinton's address to Congress ron the topic, standing in the main hall of the White House when President bill Clinton announced that Congress had passed NAFTA, and being on the South Lawn the morning that the Middle East Peace Accord was signed and Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands. Warren not only saw these events take place, "but I had a hand in helping make them happen. These are experiences I will carry with me for life."


Warren's TWC experiences formed a foundation for his a long prestigious media career. He recently began working as the communications director for the City of Arlington, Texas. Before that, Warren spent almost two decades as a broadcast journalist in three different states. He covered national and statewide elections, moderated nationally televised debates, chronicled Queen Elizabeth II's historic trip to Virginia, and covered Hurricane Isabel. Warren also has stayed engaged and active in the TWC community. He worked at the organization for a year as the director of the Campaign 1996 academic seminar programs and started the Media and Communications (formerly known as Mass Communications) internship program. Since leaving TWC Headquarters in 1996, he has returned several times to speak with students and staff and was TWC's alumni speaker during fall 2012 commencement.


Ten TCU students from the Schieffer School of Journalism participated in the Fall 2013 Washington program, including:


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

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