by Hannah Brady

Established in 2004, Cedarville's Center for Political Studies has worked hard to give students new opportunities. It is now offering the fall D.C. Semester as a chance for students to interact with professionals and alumni in an environment that enhances their career endeavors. This past fall marked the second year that Cedarville has offered its students the chance to spend a semester studying and working in Washington, D.C. Few Christian schools offer such a rigorous, real-world opportunity for students to explore their interests in a wide variety of disciplines, including history, communication, government, business and healthcare.

The D.C. Semester is made up of two parts. Students who participate in the program complete an internship worth 10 credits while also completing six credits of coursework from Cedarville faculty. In fall 2010, Frank Jenista, Ph.D., professor of international studies, lived in Washington, D.C., and taught the students’ courses.

During a typical week, students work at their internships on Tuesday through Friday and attend classes two nights per week. Every Monday, they participate in educational and cultural experiences, such as visits to government agencies for briefings and tours.

Cedarville alumni often help organize these tours and briefings that otherwise would not be accessible to students. This past fall, a Cedarville graduate who works at the FBI Academy, which does not offer tours, arranged a special visit for the students. Other highlights of the semester included visiting the Pentagon, the U.S. Department of State, International Justice Mission, and the National Association of Evangelicals, among others.

Joseph Crupi, a junior international studies major, spent the semester working at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a research organization focused on U.S. policy and politics in Latin America. Crupi assisted with the organization's finances, conducted research on contemporary issues in Latin America and wrote articles, some of which were published in the "Washington Report on the Hemisphere," a biweekly publication distributed to scholars and university libraries.

"Our site visits and class sessions with policy experts gave me an entirely different perspective on how the government operates," said Crupi. "It was fascinating to see how the information we were learning in our classes applied to real life."

Top students from a wide variety of majors spend their semester building connections and a reputation for future Cedarville students in Washington. Cedarville has partnered with The Heritage Foundation, which houses the students during their stay, and the organization is encouraging Cedarville to keep growing the program.

As students and faculty forge a reputation for Cedarville, they are also intentional about building Christlike relationships to foster ministry in a city that desperately needs to see the Gospel message lived out.