The trip has happened annually since 1997 thanks to a collaboration between the Office of Alumni Relations, Professor Nancy Kassop of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, and the Political Science and International Relations Club. Students travel to meet with alumni and other professionals from both the Democratic and Republican parties, congressional and presidential aides, Supreme Court justices, White House reporters, public interest groups, and think tank scholars. Students also have the opportunity to attend oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our current students to meet and network with alumni and other political and governmental leaders who are influential in D.C.,” said Kassop. “As a result of these trips many New Paltz students have gotten internships or jobs with alumni who are well-situated in Washington. The trip gives students the opportunity to get a ground-floor view of political life and to discover the range of job options that exist in D.C., and to ask questions that can direct them on their own paths.”
Students sign up in advance for the trip and this year were able to meet with Steve Rosenthal ’76 (Political Science), Democratic political consultant and former Associate Deputy Secretary of Labor (Clinton administration); Zach Grossman ’16 (Political Science), Legislative Assistant to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Zach Keck ’07 (Political Science), staffer of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and fellow to the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Brian Walsh ’98, Republican political strategist; Major Garrett, CBS Senior White House Correspondent; Brendan Quinn ’13 (Political Science), Outreach and Social Media Manager for the Center for Responsive Politics, Karl Evers-Hillstrom ’18 (Journalism), reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics; and Tom Karako, senior fellow for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The highlight of the three-day program is the annual networking reception organized by the New Paltz Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Development that brings together students, alumni and donors who make the trip possible. This event provides an opportunity for students to introduce themselves to alumni and to discuss what they have discovered in D.C. It is also a chance for alumni to gather and reminisce about their shared experiences at SUNY New Paltz.
“The alumni and professionals involved in this trip have been absolutely wonderful in extending themselves,” said Kassop. “They give back in so many ways. If a student wants to come down to D.C. for a job interview, alums have generously opened up their homes and offered to give students a place to stay. Alums keep in touch with students long after the trip and they give students a real-life perspective on what it means to turn a degree in political science into a career.”