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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Students live, work and study in the nation’s capital

After completing an internship in Washington D.C. with Fox News, Amanda Wayne was offered a job at the company. She returned to UC Davis to finish her double major in history and Italian in spring 2007, and is now living in the nation’s capital as an assignment desk and production assistant at Fox News.

Wayne’s story and career began with the UC Davis Washington program.

Selected through an application process, an average of about 40 UC Davis students participate in the Washington program each academic quarter.

The program offers a combined academic and internship program during the school year. During the summer, students can chose to opt out of the classes and solely do the internship.

During the academic year, students take one elective course and one research seminar, which involves writing an extensive research paper.

“[The paper required] an argument that we could defend,” said Wayne, who wrote her paper on the Iraq war and Islamic Jihad, a topic she came up with through her internship at Fox.

In addition to taking classes, the students are required to work three to four days per week in an internship.

“[The] internships are only limited by a student’s imagination,” said Sara Lombardo, senior program manager of the UC Davis Washington Program.

Jane Marie Ford interned at Bread for the World, a Christian citizens’ movement focused on ending hunger, during her stay in Washington in fall of 2007. She is currently a student adviser for the Washington program.

“[The internship] opened up a new avenue for me,” said Ford, a senior community and regional development major. “I was already interested in public health but it shifted a little bit to another area I might be interested in – nutrition and how that relates to poverty and legislation.”

While the program does not place students in internships, the staff offers a variety of resources to help students secure positions once they’re accepted into the program.

“We give [students] the tools to be able to obtain the internship,” said Sandra Rodriguez, program assistant at the UC Davis Washington Program. “[We] try to prepare them for their entire process, [including] how to find an internship, how to look for the organization that they’re interested in [and] how to write their cover letter and résumé tailored to that internship.”

The academic demographic of the students involved in the program is diverse, and is becoming increasingly so each year.

“One of the biggest misconceptions that we are trying to break is that the Washington Program is only for political science majors. There are actually internships available for students from all majors in all types of different fields,” Rodriguez said.

In order to participate in the UC Davis Washington Program, students are required to submit an application that includes two letters of recommendation, a review of both transcripts and experience in the intended field and an essay. All applicants are also required to be of at least junior level standing and a 3.0 minimum GPA is encouraged.

UC Davis also provides financial aid packages for students in the Washington program. The financial aid office accommodates for the increase in living expenses in D.C. by adding an additional $2,500 in loans, according to Trina Wiggins, assistant director of student services in the UC Davis financial aid office.

The current policy will not be affected this year by the UC budget changes, Wiggins said.

There are also several scholarships available to students through the Washington Program.

“In the program we really don’t want students not to apply because they’re afraid they won’t be able to afford it,” Ford said. “That’s what we’re here for is resources … so anyone who wants to go and gets [accepted] in the program can go.”

The UC Washington Center, which contains all student living arrangements and program classrooms, was completed in September of 2001. The 11-story building is located less than a mile from the White House.

“I went on a run every day past the White House [when I was in the program],” Wayne said. “I still do now that I live [in Washington D.C.]”

The Center features apartment-style living as well as a variety of social programs designed to enrich the experience of the students.

Wayne recalled participating in a scheduled trip to Mount Vernon. During Ford’s stay in D.C., Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, came to the center to speak.

As the center is operated by the UC system as a whole, students involved in the program have the opportunity to meet students from other campuses in addition to UC Davis.

“[The students were] a group of really driven people who had had some pretty amazing experiences,” Ford said. “It was neat to learn from them and to share with each other.”

During her time at the center, Ford established a tradition of Sunday night dinners with some of the students in the program, something they have done their best to continue since returning to UC Davis.

And Wayne’s stay in D.C. was life changing in other ways, as well.

While researching her paper, Wayne got in touch with Cameron Marshall through contacts in the Washington program.

“I met the love of my life,” Wayne said. “I interviewed my now boyfriend, [and] the second that we both walked in that was it…we fell in love with each other in an hour.”

Wayne and Marshall are planning to get married once he completes his time in the United States Naval Academy.

In the end, both Ford and Wayne agree about the overall impact of the program.

“[I was] exposed to a lot more than I had been in California,” Wayne said. “[The management at Fox] train you as if you were going to work [there].”

Ford said the program also helped her grow up.

“The longer you’re there the more it becomes home, the more you feel like ‘Oh, I can do this, I could make it in the real world,'” Ford said. “All of these people who are making our nation’s decisions and who are working in top positions – they’re also people. We’re the next generation coming up.… Eventually we become the people who are making the top decisions.”


SARA JOHNSON can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com


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