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Marquette in D.C.

What do you do with a political science degree? In the late 1980s, a group of Marquette students wanted to find out.

Their professor, Rev. Timothy J. O’Brien, knew there was only so much he could teach them from a textbook. So, he began setting up internships in the offices of elected officials throughout Milwaukee— providing students with an opportunity to experience the political process firsthand. But local offices were only the beginning.

“I knew if students could live, work and learn in our nation’s capitol, it would provide a life-changing experience,” Father O’Brien says.

In 1988, he took 27 students to Washington, D.C., to participate in the first summer academic session on Capitol Hill.

More than 2,000 students have followed that inaugural class.

This spring, 21 interns work in D.C. and live at the Aspin Center residence. The Les Aspin Center for Government (named after late Secretary of Defense Les Aspin) now offers year-round academic programming in the nation’s capitol, Milwaukee and abroad. Students with any academic major (no longer just political science) work alongside prominent policy makers in 100 Congressional offices, and at the White House, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Secret Service, national nonprofits, trade associations, media outlets, and more.

After graduation, many former interns return to Washington, D.C., or begin public service careers throughout the world, working as chiefs of staff, senior advisers and congressional staffers. — AB


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