JWU Students Live, Learn and Lead in Washington, D.C.

Author Hillary Thilavong ’23 is a Media & Communication Studies major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News, video content and social media.

Imagine participating in an interactive experience in Washington, D.C., where you discover career possibilities in cybersecurity, national security, law, government, international affairs, politics and beyond. When you’re a passionate student looking to take the next step in your academic career, an immersive week-long experience at The Washington Center will prepare you for your next step. You’ll explore the U.S. Capitol, discover a multitude of career opportunities, and strengthen your network with industry professionals and other driven peers.

Discovering Career Opportunities

“In the beginning stages of career building, some students may even be already working in their field, and they're becoming more advanced in that career building as their experience expands over time,” shares Associate Professor Kevin DeJesus. As the liaison between JWU and The Washington Center, he takes pride in faculty-student camaraderie. “The main idea to remember is that we seek to cultivate a place for students where they supportively practice what they do. So, whether that is in the classroom and doing collaborative research, going to The Washington Center and attending seminars to immerse yourselves in your fields, or working every day at a federal agency or nonprofit, the idea of a supportive place to practice was always distinct about JWU. We want students to be invested in their own success. Our long and distinctive track record in this area affirms our emphasis on the notion of the ‘supportive place to practice’ as our priority for cultivating student opportunities.” 

Volunteers from different government sectors in the greater D.C. metro area lead seminars and sessions on industry-relevant topics. These experts not only share their knowledge with students, but help connect them to other professionals related to their career paths.

Criminal Justice major Zachary Bilodeau ’21 participated in the National Security Seminar remotely during COVID-19. As a result, he was inspired to work on a research project with Associate Professor DeJesus and his outstanding contributions were recognized by JWU’s Academic Symposium of Undergraduate Scholarship. “The research project was about the Kurdish diaspora and their quest for a homeland, how the international community views the Kurdish people, and their military impact on and alliance with us, the United States,” Zachary shared. His past career as a law enforcement officer and service in the military with numerous deployments overseas in places such as Afghanistan and Syria helped him frame the research project. 

JWU student Jazmin Pacheco standing in front of US Department of Homeland Security logoJazmin Pacheco '22 visiting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Exploring the D.C. Scene

The Washington Center participants get to make the city theirs with ample activities, from visiting museums and monuments to getting immersed in the arts, food and culture scene. “I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., before and D.C. has so much culture, diversity and history to explore that you could do something every day of the week and never get bored,” shared Jazmin Pacheco ’22, a participant in the National Security Seminar who majored in Criminal Justice. 

After exploring the district, students wind down in the comfort of apartment-styled resident halls provided by The Washington Center. “I remember scanning my room, opening the door, and being absolutely floored by the beautiful apartment-style dorms we were going to live in,” marveled Political Science student Amanda Emby ’24. “It had its own kitchen, two bedrooms, and each had its own bathroom, which was really great.” Amanda joined the Inside Washington Seminar loved how her roommates were from different parts of the country with different backgrounds, giving her new perspectives and a chance to make friends from all around the world.

A group of JWU students posing in front of the United States Institute of PeaceJWU students who participated in The Washington Center visited the United States Institute for Peace.

Connecting with Industry Professionals 

When Criminal Justice student Erica Sereno ’24 looks back at her experience, she expresses how eye-opening her internship with Jubilee Housing was. The Washington Center matched her with the nonprofit organization, which works with underprivileged families to provide them with resources and opportunities. “After being in the internship with Jubilee Housing, I plan to get my master’s in social work,” she said. Stepping foot into Washington, D.C., for the first time was just as fascinating. “I met a lot of students from different states, some from New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, and even internationally.” Erica’s positive experience at Jubilee Housing shows the power of meeting people while giving back and making lifelong friends. 

Real-industry experiences are essential to a JWU student's success, and developing networking skills goes hand-in-hand. “These are networks one cultivates through their educational and professional experiences,” shares Associate Professor DeJesus. “The deeper you're in that web of professional people in your field, then the greater chance you have of obtaining better jobs, earning a higher income, and making it up that proverbial career ladder.”

Want to learn more about how to get involved with The Washington Center? Contact Kevin DeJesus for more information on upcoming programs.