NWU Students Losing Internship Experience During Government Shutdown

When a group of Nebraska Wesleyan University students traveled to Washington, D.C. this fall to live and work in the nation’s capitol, little did they know the kind of political and historical lesson they would get.

Three of nine NWU students participating in the university’s Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) are at a standstill during the government shutdown. The failure of Congress to pass a budget by October 1 meant approximately 800,000 federal workers were furloughed. For Nebraska Wesleyan students, the shutdown is compromising internship credit.

“CHIP students must intern for 35 hours a week for 15 weeks in order to receive full internship credit for the program,” said Meghan Winchell, associate professor of history and CHIP coordinator. “In the event that the shutdown persists for longer than a week we will have to find alternative opportunities in Washington, D.C. for those students who are affected. We hope it does not come to that.”

Miranda Baxter, a senior from Grand Island is interning this fall with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She works in a lab that conducts research on the neuroscience of language. The internship compliments her double major in political science and psychology, and her ambition to pursue a career in political psychology research with an emphasis on civil violence.

“Thus far I have been doing a lot of research methods and statistics intensive work as well as learning to help with and run the fMRI machines that we use to assess the condition and progress of our patients,” she said.

By late afternoon on Monday, September 30, thousands of people were preparing for the shutdown. Baxter and her co-workers finished up critical tasks, not knowing when they would return to work.

Two other NWU students — including one interning at the Smithsonian Museum of American History — are awaiting their possible internship reassignments while witnessing a significant piece of history.

“For the time being, we are all hoping it will be short, but we are also taking in the dynamic of the city and the intense schism between the country and the people who govern it,” said Baxter.

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