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Scripps Semester in D.C. program wraps up inaugural year

Julia Brown | Apr 24, 2018

Students of the inaugural Scripps Semester in D.C. cohort meet Ohio University’s 21st President Duane Nellis at the Ohio University Federal Government Alumni Luncheon in Sept. 2017. / Photo by Stan Alost

Scripps Semester in D.C. program wraps up inaugural year

By Julia Brown

ATHENS, Ohio (April 24, 2018)—Washington, D.C., is known for many things: museums, memorials and the federal government. In fall 2017, the city also took on the role as host to the Scripps College of Communication students participating in the Scripps Semester in D.C. program. In its inaugural semester, the program allowed 10 students the opportunity to live, work and learn in the district.

The first four weeks were each spent with a different faculty member: Andrew Alexander (E.W. Scripps School of Journalism), Stan Alost (School of Visual Communication), Aimee Edmond (E.W. Scripps School of Journalism) and John Grimwade (School of Visual Communication). Each professor spent time with the students teaching about different aspects of the media specific to Washington, D.C.

The weekdays were also filled with networking trips to numerous media offices, including Vox, NPR, National Geographic, USA Today and the Peace Corps. The students were also able to meet with industry professionals like Pete Souza, President Obama’s former chief official White House photographer, and Juan Velasco, co-founder of 5W Infographics and former Art Director of National Geographic magazine.

During this first month, the students gained semester-long memberships to the National Press Club and attended the Sixth Annual Federal Government Ohio University Alumni Luncheon on Sept. 7.

For some students like senior strategic communications student Elaina Arsham, the networking trips were the most interesting part of the experience. Arsham was able to make a huge personal connection through an Ohio University alumnus.

“It was especially cool because after meeting an OHIO alumnus, Ken Klein, he introduced me to Anita Dunn, the former communications director for President Obama,” Arsham said. “Overall, the networking opportunities were so impressive.”

“The program provided me with a wide network of professionals whom I can connect with throughout my career,” said Lauren Settlemyre, a senior information design major.

After the first month of classes, participants moved on to individual internships. The internships varied greatly, pertaining to each person’s interests and abilities. Students worked in hands-on projects for the likes of National Geographic, USA Today, NPR and the Smithsonian. Joe Williamson Cooke, who worked as a Capitol Hill intern with McClatchy Washington Bureau, worked alongside seasoned reporters and government heavy hitters.

“I regularly saw and interviewed many of the senators and political figures I grew up watching on TV. Because of this, I was often at first intimidated by my surroundings, but I quickly learned how to manage this fear in order to my job,” Cooke said. “At the end of the day, senators put their pants on one leg at a time.”

According to Bob Stewart, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and co-director of this program, “The Scripps Semester in D.C. program gives students academic experience, taught by top faculty in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the School of Visual Communication, as well an internship in the nation’s capital—one of the most dynamic markets for jobs in our field. Getting this experience under their belt will improve our students’ chances of getting the job they want when they graduate.”

Outside of classes and internships, the students lived in Crystal City, Virginia, and spent time exploring all that D.C. has to offer. The program itself featured several cultural experiences like MLB and NHL games, eating at local restaurants and hearing prominent individuals speak.

For Selby Ginis, a junior photojournalism major, her time in D.C. was an eye-opening experience. “My favorite part of the program was living in D.C. I have fallen in love with the city and hope to live there after school one day,” Ginis said. “I learned more this semester than I did with all my semesters here at OHIO. Something about living the experiences made me grow up and figure out what I want to do.”

For Arsham, living in a new city not only allowed her to learn practical, career-oriented skills, but also more about herself. “When I came to Athens, I was in a new place, but everyone was in the same boat. Coming to D.C. was a completely new experience,” Arsham explained. “You really learn how to manage your time when you're working 9-5, but still having a life outside of the office. I joined a kickball team with no one I knew. It was really cool to be able to put myself out of my comfort zone.”

To follow the current cohort, check out the Scripps Semester in D.C. program’s Instagram and Twitter pages. For more information about the program itself visit the Office of Global Opportunities webpage.