Marist's Semester in Washington, D.C. Program

Offering Real-World Experiences and Internships in the Nation's Capital

When I started at Marist as a first-year student, I never intended to study abroad. I knew it was a great opportunity and incredibly common for Marist students, but at the time, I was nervous about such a big transition. However, by my junior year, I had watched almost everyone around me go abroad and I found myself craving my own sort of adventure.

A Semester in Washington By Sarah Gabrielli '18

Through a political science professor, I learned about the Semester in Washington Program. It is a partnership between Marist and American University which allows students to study at American in Washington, D.C. It's ideal for majors that are relevant to the city - like journalism, American politics, and sustainable development - and you're matched with an internship and a special seminar for the semester. I am a journalism major so I applied for the Journalism and New Media concentration and found an internship at an NPR program called “1A” at the local public radio station WAMU.

The seminar met twice a week for an entire day and was so much more than lectures or formal lessons. Instead, we totally dedicated our time to exploring the city and all of the resources around us. My professor brought in guest speakers from organizations like the Daily Beast, The Atlantic, and Yahoo! News (the Yahoo! speaker was actually the reporter who originally broke the Monica Lewinski story). We also went on field trips to notable publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, and NPR. These experiences gave me a better understanding of the journalism field and where I might fit into that after graduation.

I have always loved NPR and public radio so it was kind of a dream come true to be able to work on a show like 1A for my internship. The program aired live every morning and invited guests to discuss topics from breaking news to social issues to public policy. The show had one host and nine producers with whom I spent most of my day collaborating. Until this internship, I knew that I might be able to someday work as a producer but I never really understood their role in broadcast journalism. The producers at 1A were constantly preparing for future stories and I would work with them on research, booking guests and pulling sound files for the show.

One of my most memorable experiences from the semester came out of a writing assignment for my journalism seminar. I had to write a profile on someone in the D.C. area and I decided to really challenge myself. I reached out to Diane Rehm, the national talk radio host from The Diane Rehm Show, who went off the air last year but still works on a podcast at the WAMU station. Diane has interviewed notable figures from Julie Andrews to Bernie Sanders to every living former United States president. She is regarded as one of the greatest interviewers in the world and she agreed to meet with me to answer my questions! I was incredibly nervous, spent a week researching her career and personal life, and the interview ended up going incredibly well. My research paid off and the conversation went smoothly and intuitively. As I left, Diane praised the interview, saying that I did well and she would love to meet with me again. We never ended up coordinating another time, but I will always remember her kind words and that one hour together.

Though I never left the country for my “abroad” semester, I still felt like I gained a completely new college experience in a completely different culture. The D.C. program attracts international students from all over the world and some of my best friends ended up being students from Germany and Austria who constantly taught me about life in Europe. Additionally, being in a city like D.C. provided so many opportunities both professional and social. For fun, my friends and I would visit museums, monuments, and other historical sights. We got dinner at the restaurant from the “pizzagate” scandal, attended a gala and spent many evenings hanging out at the Lincoln and Washington Memorials.

While I had been nervous about leaving Marist, my time in Washington, D.C. ended up being the best few months of my life. Traveling overseas wasn't the right choice for me right now, but I was still able to gain professional experience, cultural insight, and create amazing memories and life-long friends.

Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18