Fall ’17 Washington Community Scholars find insight, wisdom, inspiration

emu wcsc group
Eight students are exploring life in Washington D.C. and gaining experience through internships as part of studies at Eastern Mennonite University’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center (WCSC) in the fall 2017 semester. Pictured here at the Smithsonian American Art Museum National Portrait Gallery are (front row, left to right) Katey Ebaugh, Bethany Tuel, Anna Cammarn, Darian Cope and (back row, left to right) Luke Ragsdale, Peter Dutcher, Nazo Nwankwo, Garrett Siefer. (Photo by WCSC assistant director Ryan Good)

Eight students this fall are exploring life in Washington D.C. and gaining experience through internships in fields ranging from music therapy to journalism to immigration law as part of studies at the EMU Washington Community Scholars’ Center.

For Garrett Siefer, spending a semester in the city hasn’t just been a chance to develop what he learned in his classes on the Bluffton University campus. It’s also been “insightful” and “surprising,” he said.

A broadcast and journalism major from Maumee, Ohio, Siefer is interning at Washington Digital Media, where he does camera work, editing and website design, and is looking forward to his work being published.

“I have been learning quite a bit using my studies in action now,” he said. “The best time is doing video work and interacting with people.”

In addition to his internship, a highlight for Siefer is seeing the history in Washington and exploring the city’s culture, in part through assignments such as researching and writing about a specific street, to learn its back story.

A lot of the time, he said, class “does not feel like it is actual class. I really enjoy what we do there.”

In addition to Siefer, WCSC participants this fall include three Bluffton University and four EMU students.

  • Anna Cammarn, a psychology and music major at Bluffton from Albertville, Minnesota, is interning with Episcopal Center for Children, where she assists a music therapist in group sessions, where the kids say “silly things.” She is learning, she said, how kind people are in the city.
  • Darian Cope, a liberal arts major at EMU from Watsontown, Pennsylvania, is interning with Little Friends for Peace, and helps organize events, does paperwork and database management, and assists with the after-school program. “There is so much to explore” in Washington, she said, “and the culture here is so different, that I feel you can only truly experience it by living in it.”
  • Katey Ebaugh, a sociology major at Bluffton from Holtwood, Pennsylvania, is interning with Catholic Charities immigration division. There she writes closing letters on law cases and completes other organizational tasks. She said a highlight of her internship is hearing the stories of immigrants, and knowing that “even the little things are purposeful.” And, she said, “I love D.C.! There are many wonderful cultural things to experience, and we are close by it all.”
  • Luke Ragsdale, a speech pathology major at Bluffton from Gap, Pennsylvania, is working at The Lab School of Washington.
  • Peter Dutcher, a social work major at EMU from Limpytown, Ohio, is working with Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that uses running to motivate and encourage life changes for people facing homelessness. Among his duties are connecting members to resources like housing, job skills training, and financial literacy, reaching out to volunteers, and running with members. He said the members “provide wisdom and inspiration” in their stories, triumphs and low points, and have spoken at length about the role race places into a person’s experience in D.C.
  • Nazo Nwankwo, a social work major at EMU from Silver Spring, Maryland, is interning at St. Anthony Catholic School, and learning to understand the basic necessities of working with school children.
  • Bethany Tuel, a writing studies major at EMU from Frederick, Maryland, is interning with Street Sense, where she in part reports about the intersection of youth and education with homelessness, subjects she is passionate about. A unique bonus of living in the city, she said, is having food delivery options in the wee hours of the morning.

Story by Christopher Clymer Kurtz

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