HOSCHTON — It only took a three-week trip to the nation’s capital for Hoschton resident Emily Bolton to fall in love with the city.
“When I was in high school, I participated in the Georgetown International Relations Program and spent three weeks in Washington, D.C. I fell in love with everything about D.C.,” Bolton said.
And this spring, she’s back in her favorite city as one of a select group of students participating in the University of Georgia’s Washington Semester Program.
“I wanted to experience city life in D.C. in an economically feasible way, and the Washington UGA semester program offered that opportunity,” she said. “I have always been fascinated by foreign languages, cultures and people. I genuinely have a passion for learning about the mixture of culture, history and economics in foreign and domestic policy in other nations.”
About 20 UGA students participate in the program every semester, which combines 12 hours of course credit with about 30 hours of work at an approved internship in the city, according to the program’s Web site.
With such a small group allowed in the program, the application process is not easy.
“To get into the program, the process was competitive. There was a written application and an interview process, and only 21 students were chosen from the university,” Bolton said.
Bolton, an international affairs major, is working in U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s office, representing Georgia’s 12th Congressional District located in East Central Georgia, which includes Savannah.
Barrow serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.
“It has been an amazing, fast-paced experience,” Bolton said about working in Barrow’s office. “I have really enjoyed gaining insight on the legislative process, and working in Congressman Barrow’s office has given me the opportunity to gain experience working in an office environment.”
In addition to her time in Barrow’s office, Bolton is taking a networking class and a political science class that focuses on the intricacies of the legislative process.
“I am taking Washington 3400, which is essentially a distinguished speaker series and networking class. Each week we have UGA alumni speak to us on various topics or we have a social networking event with the D.C. Dawgs,” the university’s alumni chapter in the city, she said.
“So far, the speaking series has included a representative from the speaker’s office, various chiefs of staff from different congressional offices and lobbyists representing many different areas of constituency.”
In the coming weeks, Bolton said she and her fellow students will be visiting the Pentagon and the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at the National Geographic Museum.
All of these experiences will help her “make professional contacts, enjoy the city in its entirety and learn as much as (she) can about our nation’s capital, the legislative process and politics,” she said.
Her parents also hope she gains a lot of experience during her semester in Washington.
“She’s not doing exactly what she expected to do — she’s handling a lot of constituents’ concerns, and that’s a lot of great experience,” said her mother, Pat Gascon. “I hope she’s learning to deal with adults in life and real issues that real people have and learning to be a business person.
“We were so happy for her to have that opportunity,” she added.