Although located in the beautiful and historic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Christendom College is also just 70 miles from Washington, DC. This ideal location allows easy access to the city for students’ leisure and formation. Weekend trips during the school year aren’t enough for some students, however. Many rising juniors and seniors also take advantage of Christendom’s proximity to DC to land internships with political offices, think tanks, and businesses.
“The college’s connections make it much easier,” remarks Veronica Wingerter, a current sophomore interested in political science. “Christendom has a fantastic reputation at places like the Heritage Foundation. It’s easier to get an internship where you’re from, so I’ve been able to use that to my advantage, especially since I’m from Louisiana.”
In addition to its convenient location, Christendom’s broad-based core curriculum provides students with the communication and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in modern politics. Numerous students have secured jobs for organizations in the DC area, including the Heritage Foundation, the Leadership Institute, the Charles Koch Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and the US House of Representatives..
Two alumni, Monica Burke and Colleen Harmon, currently work at the Heritage Foundation, impacting DC in the process. Others, such as Charlie Spiering, Cyrus Artz, Abigail Wilkinson, and Matt Hadro, work in the fields of journalism, politics, and at other think tanks. Christendom’s proximity to DC helped them get internships in the area prior to graduation, giving them the valuable tools to take their education one step further.
The college’s faculty believe that Christendom’s emphasis on fundamental principles, rather than today’s trending topics, helps to set alumni apart from their peers.
“I think our curriculum manages to emphasize political theory and fundamental principles and avoids the trap of emphasizing data or current events,” says Dr. Kevin Burns, associate professor of political science. “Courses in Political Science can too easily be bogged down in mere collections of information: about interest groups, current polling, or the next election. Most of this information fails to rise above the level of talking points. It is forgettable and won’t matter two years from now—maybe not even two weeks from now.”
Focusing on the greater issues beyond the latest tweet gives Christendom students the ability to engage with co-workers and opponents on a deeper level. Asking the bigger questions often challenges people to reflect more on their position.
“In politics, people disagree on values, especially life issues,” says Wingerter. “Christendom has taught me to formulate and present an argument, so I can meet people on their level. I’ve learned to discern what people are actually looking for in public policy and to be able to reflect the truth to them.”
In a world of “micro-aggressions” and “political correctness,” where even dialogue proves dangerous, the confidence and ability to offer a more complete view of the human person and a good society proves crucial.
“We want to inculcate key principles about human nature and politics, that are more fundamental than any partisan policy fight today,” says Burns. “What does human nature tell us about man and the state? What does man actually seek in this life? How does politics, by promoting the common good, help him to achieve his end? What is the purpose of government? Does it promote and protect inalienable rights? Inculcate virtue? Or should it simply prevent us from murdering each other?”
Well-equipped to positively shape the future of our country, Christendom students need not look close to home for summer employment. Christendom’s strong alumni network allows many students the chance to make an impact in our nation’s capital, putting their knowledge, skills, and passion to good use.
This article was contributed by student editor Riley Damitz (’20).