Living, Working, and Learning in the Nation’s Capital
Spotlight on Emily Depangher, ’17
Written by Chandler Lasch
Emily Depangher is in a unique situation. She completed one semester with the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program (WHIP) and is already itching to return to D.C.—with plans to stay a little longer this time. She’ll return this fall to take two more classes at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center and plans to work in D.C. I sat down and asked Emily about her time with WHIP and her plans for the future.
Emily describes WHIP as a co-educational and work opportunity. Students are given the chance go to D.C. for a semester and live in a house with fifteen other Hillsdale students. They work as interns for about thirty-five hours a week while taking two or three classes at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center in the evenings. Of course, the semester isn’t all work. Students also get a chance to experience the rich history of D.C. and the surrounding area with tours of important historic sites such as Antietam and Ford’s Theater.
“WHIP is also able to provide opportunities that students of other colleges may not get to experience due to Hillsdale’s connections and the small number of students,” Emily stressed. One such perk includes a tour of a battlefield personalized for the group with information regarding a Hillsdale battalion.
Overall, WHIP provides students with a chance to learn to balance work and school in what Emily describes as a, “fun and personalized opportunity alongside experienced and dedicated professors.”
Emily interned on Capitol Hill with Congressman Tom McClintock of California. There she worked as a research correspondence intern. She summarized bills and listed pros and cons, among other tasks. Her favorite part of the internship, however, was giving tours of Capitol Hill. Emily was struck with not only the prevalence of twenty-something-year-olds who have a heavy hand in running our country, but also the optimism and helpfulness of those who had more experience. Time and time again, Emily saw a hope held for the younger generation. She said that people consistently asked her and others about their goals, were willing to connect them to people involved, and were ultimately very willing to help younger people get where they wanted to go. In such an admittedly corrupt city, Emily found this hope refreshing.
Of course, WHIP isn’t just about the internships. Emily took three classes at the Kirby Center: American national security studies, statesmanship and public policy, and constitutional history. The classes were difficult, but she found the balance between work and school easier in D.C. than a normal balance between classes, clubs, and the myriad other activities that occur on campus at Hillsdale. She describes the balance as, “tough but doable, with a lot of reading, but not an unmanageable amount.”
The WHIP program is a fascinating study in both the practical and the theoretical in work and classes. Emily stressed that prudence was a key theme for her throughout the semester in keeping up with both areas of WHIP. This balance will especially help Emily when she moves back to D.C.
“WHIP was good practice for me because I plan to pursue my master’s degree at night in addition to working,” she said. “Now, I know I can do it.”
Ultimately, Emily wants to pursue national security as a career, hence her desire to return to D.C. She knows she has more learning to do, and our nation’s Capitol is the place for it.
“D.C. is a transitional city. It’s constantly changing,” she said. “I want to be a more permanent part of that and get a better perspective of where I want the country to go and how to get there. I need to be there as a young person to see that best and see where I want to go in life.”
This summer, Emily will intern with UPS but work with government affairs. She has also applied to intern for the FBI. Her goal is ultimately to be a profiler, working on the analyst side of things, perhaps in intelligence work in the Pentagon. She is driven largely by an interest in observation and critical thinking.
WHIP has certainly prepared Emily well for a career in D.C. She found her American national security studies course with Dr. Lowrey to be especially pertinent. Lowrey is a special assistant to the undersecretary of Defense. He proved very knowledgeable and had a good perspective on the complications that occur when working with the government, providing Emily with a thorough education of what goes on behind the scenes.
Of course, it’s important to note that WHIP is a fun chance to experience life in the big city without being stuck there, so you can see if it’s the life for you while surrounded by the comfort of Hillsdale friends. Through the incredible opportunities that Emily had with WHIP, she has seen doors open and gained a clearer vision of her plan for her future. She is also a better writer and thinker as a result.
Emily encourages other students to consider applying to the program. “WHIP is a great experience to learn how to put Hillsdale theory into practice, as well as a chance to put yourself up against different opinions and be tested in a good way.”
Interested in spending a semester living, working, and learning on Capitol Hill? Check out the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program!
A resident of sunny Southern California, Chandler Lasch, ‘18, is currently studying history and theatre. She enjoys graphic design, iced hazelnut lattes, and Disney movies.