‘Nova in nation’s capital

Nicole Dinten

This semester, five Villanova students lived, worked and studied in Washington, D.C., through the Washington Center Program for Internships and Academic Seminars.

Through this program, they were placed in internships, enrolled in academic coursework and provided with opportunities to help them transition into professional life.

The five students, Evi Katsantonis, Courtney Zientek, Ashley Stanojev, Peyton Lee Onda and Adam Franklin, are all juniors enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

The students’ internship roles varied according to their chosen fields.

Evi Katsantonis, a political science major, worked as a legislative intern at Washington Strategic Consulting, a boutique public policy, advocacy and consulting firm that helps clients develop and advance their agendas, especially in educative, health and disability policy.

She researched grant opportunities and appropriations, and was able to attend briefings on Capitol Hill.

Courtney Zientek interned at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The political science/history double major helped to work toward the election of Democrats to the U.S. Senate.

Ashley Stanojev worked with one of the top 100 financial firms in the country, Financial Services Roundtable, a public relations lobbying firm that focuses on issues such as regulatory reform and credit card laws.

The communication major got direct experience in the world of public relations by setting up conferences and researching issues in the field.

Communication major Peyton Lee Onda interned with Swanson Communications, a public relations agency that specializes in sports.

She maintained the agency’s Twitter page and wrote a biography for Washington Wizards forward Caron Butler. She also wrote press releases, created media alerts, made pitch calls and organized and edited media lists.

Philosophy/humanities double major Adam Franklin interned at the law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and at the National Whistleblowers Center, a nonprofit organization.

He worked under a False Claims Act attorney doing legal research, writing draft realtor statements and complaints, filing cases and taking notes at meetings with the Department of Justice. His work was confidential because his cases are under seal.

“While it’s frustrating, it’s also a pretty cool feeling just knowing that I am legally not allowed to talk about all of the stuff that I work on at my job because it’s that important,” Franklin said.

All the students’ experiences helped them see how an education at Villanova will one day translate into success when they leave the confines of campus.

“It’s hard to see the big picture of your education when you’re just going to classes everyday, but once you step outside and see how other people react to your skills, it’s impressive,” Onda said. “It’s obvious that Villanova is not just giving us academic tools, they are also equipping us with the wisdom and desire to succeed in the professional world.”

Along with placement in an internship, the Washington Center provided the students with many other hands-on, educational opportunities.

Throughout the semester, the students were active in networking, civic engagement and attending lectures and seminars to help them transition into life as young professionals, while enrolled in academic coursework.

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, nonprofit organization serving hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C., for academic credit.

With a network of over 40,000 alumni, the Washington Center maintains a role in service to society as a whole by developing the workforce of the future and encouraging all of its participants to be informed, public-spirited and civically engaged.