Political Science Internships Open Doors to Opportunity

At JWU, we're rethinking issues that impact people’s lives, and we’re studying the way leaders and forms of government contribute to the well-being of societies. The Political Science program is a perfect example of this approach. In addition to work inside the classroom, students are given access to life-changing internships and study abroad trips that further influence their careers.

Katia-Lavannah Scott in chambers.

“We want students at the cutting edge,” says Kevin DeJesus, assistant professor of Political Science. “The JWU formula works — innovative educational preparation that matters in careers and industry, with real-time opportunity. JWU is the place for ambitious students. These accomplished political science students are the proof this is the approach that delivers, setting us apart in the higher education landscape. JWU is the opportunity university — and these students exemplify how life-changing it is to pursue those opportunities!”

The following four students are a small sample of the Political Science majors who are using JWU's internships and study abroad trips to their advantage for their future careers.

Mark Tabala ’19

During his time at JWU, Mark Tabala completed two internships and a study abroad trip to Berlin. All of these experiences helped guide him toward his ultimate career destination: environmental law, specifically admiralty law.

"JWU is the opportunity university — and these students exemplify how life-changing it is to pursue those opportunities!"

Tabala's first internship was at the local non-profit Save the Bay. At first, he was tasked with typical internship tasks: filing papers, data entry, and the like. However, as time went on, Tabala began to make connections within the organization, and the relationships he built helped land him his next internship.

Tabala is currently interning for the Rhode Island Attorney General's office in the environmental unit. “Usually they don’t take undergraduate students for this unit,” Tabala explains, “but the Director of Advocacy at Save the Bay helped get me in.” On his first day, Tabala met with the Attorney General for three hours, where they spent time talking about how the office functions, projects to work on, and more. He is involved in several heavy (and sometimes classified) research projects, earning real hands-on experience in environmental law and policy.

Mark Tabala in Berlin.

His experiences don't end there. For nearly four months, Tabala participated in the study abroad program to Berlin. “JWU has a partnership with CIEE [Council on International Educational Exchange], and because of that we got a lot of perks that other students didn’t get.” These perks included not only the cost of the trip, but the various places students were able to visit. Tabala and his study abroad group visited Hamburg, Amsterdam, London, and Switzerland.

Megina Elysee ’20

As a political science major, Megina Elysee wasn't sure that a study abroad trip based in leadership, hospitality, and tourism would do much for her. However, once she arrived to South Africa, her perspective changed.

Megina Elysee in South Africa.

“It's one of those things that you learn something new every day,” Elysee says. “The world around you, how you contribute, and things about yourself.”

"This is where the fight for freedom began. I was blessed to be able to see this."

Highlights of the trip included a visit to Nelson Mandela's home, a tour of a gold mine and the history of gold in Africa, safaris, working in a children's camp, and visiting local markets, wineries, and more. One of Elysee's favorite stops was Robbeneiland, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served before the fall of apartheid. “What an opportunity it was to step foot in the place where history was made,” Elysee says. “There was a sense of humility, gratefulness, and appreciation that took over me. It was the place where the ideas, plans, and movement regarding reform began. At this very location, these history makers, fighters, and leaders met. This is where the fight for freedom began. I was blessed to be able to see this, and also to hear from a former prisoner kept at the location.”

Katiah-Lavahnna Scott ’22

Hailing from Boston, Katiah-Lavahnna Scott first found JWU appealing because of its diversity and volleyball team. The discovery of the Political Science program sealed the deal for her, especially with the 3+3 program, a partnership with Roger William University Law. “I want to go into law, for sure,” she says. “My biggest thing has been helping people, and I think I’ve finally found a way to do that.”

Katiah-Lavahnna Scott.

Scott has had two internships during her time at JWU, which is especially impressive considering that she is still an underclassman. Her first internship was in the statehouse in Boston, working for Senator Jehlen. “It was the best experience I’ve had in my life,” Scott says. She was able to meet with many political figures, including Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Governor Charlie Baker. “In the program you get to talk and ask real questions,” Scott says. “I got to work on my networking, I met different people from totally different areas, and I found a mentor.”

My biggest thing has been helping people, and I think I’ve finally found a way to do that.”

Scott's next internship was working on a campaign to reelect mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke. Although she had never done campaign work before, she dove right in and got to work with the one other intern on the campaign. For six days a week, they held fundraisers, worked phone banks, held signs, handed out campaign materials, and canvassed neighborhoods with a door-knocking campaign. “I love debating for things that I believe in and being able to open other people’s minds a little bit, and it opened my eyes too,” she says. “Having a genuine conversation with neighbors that I had never seen before was awesome.”

Mackenzie Carroll ’21

Mackenzie Carroll's JWU experience includes playing for the women's tennis team, serving on the E-Board for the Women: Speak and Be Heard club, participating in Alpha Sigma Tau, and leading the JWU Model United Nations club as President. Still, she found time to intern with the Global Fund for Widows, and she is very glad she did.

Mackenzie Carroll.

Carroll’s primary responsibilities with the Global Fund for Widows included running their social media channels (check out their Instagram and Facebook), as well as creating blog posts for the nonprofit. The Global Fund for Widows is dedicated to empowering widows and female heads of households to overcome poverty through skills-based training, job creation, and micro-finance. The organization applies its programs throughout the developing world by forming strategic partnerships with local NGOs, which are dedicated to the empowerment of widows.

Through this internship, Carroll was not only able to learn the ins and outs of a nonprofit organization, but had the unique opportunity to attend meetings during the High Level Political Forum at the UN. And she not only attended a meeting – she spoke on behalf of the Global Fund for Widows during a meeting on inclusive finance at the UN conference. “This internship taught me so much about the issue of widowhood internationally. Widows lack inheritance rights, face harmful traditional practices, and discrimination.”

"The political science program at Johnson & Wales has truly influenced my success during my internship."

Carroll was also able to attend a movie screening of “The Last Color” by Vikas Khanna, which deals with inequality in India following the story of a widow and a young girl labeled as “untouchable.” “Overall the experience has been incredibly eye-opening and provided me with a stronger understanding of the role of NGO's in the international system,” Carroll says. “The political science program at Johnson and Wales has truly influenced my success during my internship as I have taken many impactful courses involving the international system.”