Jeremy Taguding, Christopher Newport University
I’m sure many of you are in the daunting process of identifying and applying for various summer internships and research opportunities. As you are weighing your options for this summer, I want to tell you about a great opportunity offered by the Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI). Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend AHI’s Washington Program for National Security (otherwise referred to as WAPONS) with roughly 20 other undergraduate students from universities across the country. The program is offered to all students, rising sophomores through recent graduates. It is a two week long program, located in Washington, D.C. All expenses are paid for (meals, travel, etc.), and students are housed at American University in dorms throughout the duration of the program.
On my trip, there were students from 10 different universities, each in various phases of their collegiate careers. Many students, like myself, had studied National Security in college and were hoping to expand their foundational knowledge in order to pursue a career or advanced degree in national security. Some students, on the other hand, had limited formal education on national security, but had gained practical knowledge through serving in the military, for example. This diversity created a unique collaboration of perspectives, especially during group discussions.
Each day of the program was different, because each day we visited a different National Security organization. We visited professionals at every level and from every perspective. We conversed with subject matter experts from academia at think tanks such as the Heritage foundation, Hudson Institute and American Foreign Policy Council, with practitioners from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon, and Raytheon, and with other universities like the National Defense University, American University, and the Kirby Center. Each day, you could pretty much count on being busy from 8AM-4PM. These hours were filled with formal and informal lectures, discussions, and presentations, all revolving around the various components of National Security. After that, we were released for free time. Make sure to bring your walking shoes, as we did a good amount of walking to and from various destinations. For the most part, we used the metro rail or buses. For students not from the area, this was a valuable time to explore the nation’s capitol. We had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum, Spy Museum, National War College, the Senate, and many other really awesome places in the city.
The application for the program is short and simple, only requiring a brief essay about yourself, some of your career/education goals, and a recommendation letter from a professor. There is a good amount of reading involved, but there are no grades! Any reading you do will only enhance your ability to form your own ideas prior to discussions. I highly recommend this program to anyone even remotely interested in National Security!
Best of luck,
Christopher Newport University, Class of 2016
WAPONS, Summer of 2016