Mitch Haag, a junior history major from Grand Rapids, Michigan, poses in the Russell Senate Office Building, where he interned during the fall 2019 D.C. semester.

D.C. Semester Ready to Reconvene

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by Heidie Raine, Student Public Relations Writer

Dr. Mark Caleb SmithThe COVID-19 pandemic left students without the classes, opportunities, and trips they’d been excitedly anticipating from Cedarville University’s D.C. semester program. But nearly a year after shifting to remote classes at the end of the 2020 spring semester, deferring ceremonies and canceling study abroad programs, some opportunities are being reinstated, ushering students back into the classroom … and the airport.

This upcoming August, Cedarville will send 15 students to Washington, D.C., to participate in the D.C. semester program. While there, students will work an internship catered to their particular career goals, take two D.C. semester exclusive seminar courses and richly experience the nation’s capital.

Open to all majors, the program runs every fall semester. The acceptance process varies in competitiveness based on the year, guided by a written application and formal interview.


Sage Showers, a sophomore political science major from Hammon, Oklahoma, and Hannah Dunham are pictured together. Both will be participating in the D.C. Semester this August.While in D.C., students serve in their internships Tuesdays through Fridays and meet for evening classes twice a week. Students live in the E.W. Richardson Building Intern Housing located at the Heritage Foundation, only 15 minutes from Capitol Hill

Monday nights are reserved for group activities, such as museum tours and visiting iconic locations like The Pentagon. They may also take in a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the famous Ford’s Theatre.

With support, wisdom and resources from the department of history and government, Dr. Mark Caleb Smith, professor of political science and director of the Center for Political Science, spearheaded Cedarville’s D.C. semester program in 2008. Smith had observed and participated in a similar program during his time teaching at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“The D.C. semester is the best tool we have to give our students a professional experience in a very difficult and competitive environment,” Smith said.

Accepted students are free to apply to field-related internships, allowing them to structure the program for their personal goals and needs.

In the past, students have interned for the White House, Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, law offices and think tanks.

The program also provides students a unique opportunity to bond with one another and their faculty advisors.

“As a faculty member, being with students through the semester as their only overseer, helping with internships, eating with them, teaching, counseling and caring for them — you really get to know them in a way you wouldn’t get to otherwise,” Smith added.

Though a significant factor, grades are not the only consideration for admittance.

“Our ideal candidate is someone who will represent the kingdom of God and Cedarville University well,” Smith noted. “We don’t necessarily need someone with a 4.0 and political experience, but someone who is mindful of who they are and what they represent.”

Hannah Dunham, a sophomore political science major from Southgate, Michigan, is among the 15 students accepted for the fall 2021 D.C. semester. She is currently applying to internships pertaining to the legislative process, hoping to land a position working with Congress.

“I feel a calling to missions in government specifically,” Dunham shared. “It’s a chance to share the Gospel and live out my faith with those who may be hostile or indifferent toward God. And that calling really leads me to government because the government determines the direction of a nation.”

As students prepare for their semester in the Capital this fall, they anticipate once-in-a-lifetime memories and opportunities. The benefits of the D.C. semester, though, reach far beyond the duration of the program.

“I think that if we have more winsome, reasonable believers in D.C., we’ll be better off,” Smith said. “My mindset has been and continues to be: If we can be salt and light, let’s do it.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science program, strong graduation, and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.