The D.C. Experience

In its fourth year, the Career Center’s Citadel in D.C. program has become a popular summer choice for students who want to take advantage of the networking opportunities of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington and earn valuable internship experience in the city where the nation’s hottest debates are taking place.

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In its fourth year, the Career Center’s Citadel in D.C. program has become a popular summer choice for students who want to take advantage of the networking opportunities of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington and earn valuable internship experience in the city where the nation’s hottest debates are taking place. The program, which began June 1 and ended August 10, is headquartered in the heart of Washington at Catholic University, where students live and attend class. This year’s students had the added bonus of classroom time with Capt. Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Ph.D., a professor in The Citadel’s Department of Intelligence and Security Studies and an expert on violent extremism.

The Class: Foreign and Domestic Policy

On June 12, a couple of students in Fraser-Rahim’s class at Catholic University were wearing t-shirts and shorts or jeans; others, business attire; and festooning student José Cajar’s suit, a lei of magenta-colored orchids. Cajar, an English major and a veteran day student, had just come from a celebration of Hawaiian Independence Month, a fringe benefit of his internship with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

In his internship with the senator, Cajar worked with Cody Sims, ’19, who parlayed his own 2018 internship in Scott’s office as part of the D.C. program into a full-time job after graduation. Like Sims, Cajar immersed himself in the experience, researching legislation, attending congressional hearings and helping write letters to constituents about issues.

“I was fortunate enough to speak with representatives and senators from many states and to see the hard work they are doing. It was uplifting to see that regardless of disagreements on fundamental issues, everyone still finds a way to work together and reach back to the communities that elected them,” said Cajar.

A hearing Cajar attended about tackling veteran suicide hit home. “Like many other service members, I lost someone close to me to suicide,” he said. “Listening to all members of the hearing discuss mental healthcare reform and change the telehealth number to a three-digit phone number was gratifying.”

Fraser-Rahim, an engaging speaker in a gray sports jacket with a pair of blue reading glasses perched atop his head, has worked in the government for more than a decade and has ties to the Department of Homeland Security, the director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center.

“If you are in the intelligence community, you are an analyst. You give advice, but you are not a decision maker,” he said. “Does anyone here want to be in office one day?”

Alec LaDouceur, a junior cadet from Pace, Florida, raised his hand. LaDouceur, who plans to attend law school after graduation, interned with South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson for the summer and had just spent six hours in an Armed Forces Committee meeting before coming to class.

Political science major William Moon, a senior from Asheboro, North Carolina, who interned for North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, is also toying with the idea of running for office one day. “Meeting people from all corners of the world and being able to have a part in addressing the needs of the people of North Carolina have made this experience invaluable to me,” said Moon.

In a class discussion on domestic policy, the topics of immigration, legalization of marijuana, abortion, gun control, freedom of speech and transgender rights emerged as current domestic issues.

Debate is important to the policymaking process, the students learned. “You don’t have to agree with speakers who come into this class. Push back on them. Challenge them,” said Fraser-Rahim of the impressive lineup of speakers who would talk to the class later in the summer.

The speakers on the roster included a number of Citadel graduates who are all part of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington: Tim Solms, ’86; Col. Chip Lilliewood, ’86; Maj. Gen. Jim Lariviere, ’79; and Lt. Col. Neil Couch, ’82.

The CCGW network

At the National Waste and Recycling Association, an advocacy organization for the waste and recycling industry, senior Cadet Sébastien Offredo, who is majoring in both political science and French, conducted research on the effects of syringe and lithium battery disposal in the waste and recycling stream. He was part of the team led by Darrell Smith, ’86, president and CEO of the NWRA. Also on the team was Jonathan Taylor, ’19, manager of government relations, who interned for the organization when he took part in The Citadel in D.C. in 2016.

Senior Cadet Richard Greve, a two-year veteran of The Citadel in D.C., worked at the National Archives in 2018 and got so much out of his summer experience that he signed up again. A history major, Greve worked at the Peace Corps this summer managing records in the Africa region office and took on a second internship in Senator Scott’s office.

“D.C. is a fast-paced city with so much to see and do, from the different historical monuments to the many Smithsonian museums,” said Greve. “The best part is being able to meet the alumni of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington, who offer up so much knowledge and wisdom that will be invaluable to the work I plan to do one day in public service.”

Networking, for cadets and students, is the heart of The Citadel in D.C. experience.

Duane Fleming, ’82, a healthcare consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and president of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington, said that supporting the program is important to the club. “As a 501(c)3 organization, we seek to provide cadets and students with unique experiences while they’re in town, help them understand and build their network,” said Fleming. “We help them to see the power of the ring.”

Members of the CCGW mentor students, hold social events and help to integrate students into life in the nation’s capital.

“We sort of adopt them,” said Fleming. “The club is their home away from home.”

There are more than 250 members of the club. In addition to the experiences that the club provides to students—all at no charge—they raise money to defray the cost of the program for students, donating more than $2,500 this year alone, in addition to establishing a scholarship to support Citadel students from the region.

“I met some great people in Washington. It was an excellent opportunity to network, and I was impressed by the diversity of the people I encountered,” said Cadet Erin Kaminer, a junior criminal justice major who wants to be a forensic scientist.

Kaminer’s internship was with Next Level 30, a marketing company, where she went through professional development training and learned about interpersonal skills, reading body language, problem solving and communications—skills that will help her in criminal investigations. After the summer was over, Kaminer packed her bags for Nicosia, Cyprus, where she is currently taking part in The Citadel Global Scholars program for the fall semester.

Second Battalion Operations Officer Cadet James Newman, also a criminal justice major, worked for South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman. The senior from North Augusta assisted in legislative research, writing speeches and assisting constituents.

“The biggest takeaway for me,” said Newman, “was not only being able to learn how our government works but also gaining essential workplace skills. The best part—making contacts and getting to know others.”

The attraction for Intelligence and Security Studies majors

For Rose Bailey, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in intelligence and security studies, The Citadel in D.C. program offered the opportunity she needed to be more competitive as she plans her career in the intelligence field. Bailey, a native of Summerville who hopes to move to Washington after she completes her coursework in December, had an internship in the civil rights division of the Transportation Security Administration. She was responsible for heading up a mediation protocol for the Alternative Dispute Resolution program.

“The experience was critical to my future in intelligence,” Bailey said. “There is nothing better than having hands-on experience within a federal agency. The opportunities in Washington are out there—you have to be prepared to take advantage of every experience.”

Bailey is one of five students who took part in the program pursuing a degree in intelligence and security studies. Cadet Gabriela Johnson, a Myrtle Beach native who hopes to become an intelligence analyst, completed an internship with Artemis Alliance, an intelligence agency, before joining Kaminer in Cyprus for The Citadel Global Scholars program.

Another intelligence and security studies major, senior Cadet Troy Smith from Lewisville, North Carolina, hopes to earn a commission in the U.S. Coast Guard. In North Carolina Representative Ted Budd’s office, Smith answered phones and logged constituent concerns.

“I highly encourage other cadets to spend the summer in D.C.,” Smith said. “It’s an exciting city with a ton of networking opportunities.”

Like Bailey, Regimental Drum Major Cadet Jeff Simon plans to move to Washington after graduation. Simon, who will graduate in May, is looking for a job with a federal agency and hopes to continue his studies at Georgetown University in theoretical linguistics. He holds the O. Ray Moore Memorial Citadel Scholars Scholarship, a fully funded scholarship for academic excellence.

Simon worked at the National Archives as a textual processing intern, reading and cataloging declassified Department of Defense records. Through its website alone, the National Archives receives 25,000 requests a year for records and information, and having bright students assist in the cataloging of the vast volume of records it receives is crucial to the agency’s operation.

A Foundation for Service

A common theme that emerges from the program is an intrinsic need the students have to serve. Katherine Richards Westmoreland’s work in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was classified. A graduate student in the social science program, Westmoreland hopes one day to work for the government on policy. Westmoreland is the granddaughter of Katherine Van Deusen Westmoreland and her husband, the late Army Gen. William Westmoreland. Gen. Westmoreland is known for commanding United States forces during the Vietnam War and for his role later as the Army chief of staff.

When she is in Charleston, Westmoreland cares for her grandmother, who is her namesake and her inspiration. “My grandmother served our country her entire life. She followed my grandfather with her three children to Vietnam, the Philippines and Hawaii, and even lived a while in Washington, D.C., at Quarters One. She served her country by serving my grandfather through a very challenging time in history. She volunteered with the Red Cross through the heat of the war and became the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year. She and my grandfather always put soldiers first.”

The Career Center team begins working with students as early as the fall semester to prepare them to make the most of their experience in Washington. Securing good internships that will make them competitive after graduation is important to that preparation, and students are coached along the way. After the program begins in June, Susan Pope, the program coordinator for The Citadel in D.C., maintains regular contact with all of the students and even spends a week with them, staying in a dormitory at Catholic University and meeting with each student to find out what is working well and what is not.

“This was the fourth year of this program, and it is still evolving,” said Pope. “Our students are growing, and they’re expanding their world and their views.”

Still, she points out, the program is structured, and for students who have never ventured out into a major metropolitan city, the program is synchronized enough to ensure that they have a successful experience.

“They blossom in this program,” she said proudly, “gaining life skills they need to be successful to go out into the world and serve others.”