Minimester program provides rewarding political experience

Alessandro Roco

The Washington Minimester program is a three-week long, three credit course offered by the political science department.

Though mostly intended for sophomores and juniors enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Commerce and Finance who want to pursue some sort of political career, the program is also meant for those who simply want to see first-hand how federal policy is made by meeting with appointed government officials.

Minimester, held over three weeks beginning May 14 and ending June 2, is comprised of about 35 seminars, and also involves the students in the many different departments of the national government by attending such things as Congressional meetings on Capitol Hill, Department of Education meetings and Pentagon briefings.

The program is also designed so that some of the seminars are conducted inside the White House and the Pentagon.

“The students get a broad overview of the many departments so they can see where they might potentially want to work,” Dr. Jeffrey Hahn, director of the minimester program said. “The program itself allows the students to make so many connections and open many different career opportunities.”

Though the program exposes the students to an in-depth, extensive political experience, every scholastic day ends no later than 4 p.m., leaving students the rest of the day to explore Washington’s many historic museums and landmarks.

“I love the program because it’s a really great experience for me to be with the students through the learning and the fun times,” Dr. Hahn said. “The students are free to do what they want after the seminars, and there have been times when I find myself hanging out, eating Chesapeake Bay crabs with them.”

Dr. Hahn is in his 29th year as director of the minimester program. Since his initial involvement with the program, Dr. Hahn has been in charge of arranging the various seminars for the students.

Over the past two years especially, he has arranged lectures and seminars with such notables as Republican National Committee chairperson Ed Gillespie, Democratic National Committee chairperson Terry McAuliffe, Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Vermont senator Patrick Leahy and new chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke.

Dr. Hahn said that Sen. Santorum’s appearance at Minimester is common and that Sen. Santorum always meets with students.

Dr. Hahn said that his position as commissioner in Radnor township before teaching at Villanova helped him greatly in establishing a network with such political bigwigs.

In order to keep the program a desired “seminar size,” according to Dr. Hahn, enrollment in the program is limited to 20 students per year. The students, along with Dr. Hahn, are housed in the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

There are still many spots open for this year’s Minimester program, and those interested must undergo a relatively simple application process.

The cost of tuition for the program is approximately $1,485, and the cost of housing for the three weeks is $875, food costs not included.

However, the minimester program functions in the same way study abroad programs do, so those who attend Villanova on financial aid can apply their award toward funding the program.