As a rising senior, spending my summer in Washington, D.C. allowed me to experience firsthand what day-to-day work consists of in our nation’s capital. Through The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and as a participant of the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems, I took two classes, American Political Thought and Comparative Economic Policy at George Mason University. Additionally, I interned at WEConnect International, an NGO focused on women’s economic empowerment. WEConnect International is the only global NGO working with corporations to identify, train, and certify women-owned businesses based outside of the U.S. to succeed in global markets.

Through the generosity of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation and additional external institutional funding, I enjoyed being able to experience life and work in the city without worrying about the cost of the program. Since I was 16, I have worked multiple jobs in addition to maintaining a rigorous schedule filled with academics, internships, and athletics to help provide for my own needs and education. This summer was the first summer that I was not working multiple jobs and instead, focused my time on developing my professional skills.

By working at WEConnect International, I gained experience that will be applied to my upcoming Honors Thesis for the Political Science Department. In my thesis, I will be analyzing how neoliberal rationalities are currently mobilizing a new type of feminism. Through survey methodology, I will test the inclusivity of this new feminism. Additionally, I will identify what different actions and behavior women are performing to prioritize economic empowerment over social and political empowerment. While working at WEConnect International, I gained knowledge of how mission-driven organizations work to achieve their goals. Currently, products and services from women-owned enterprises equal approximately 1% of spend among multinational corporations and governments globally. WEConnect International is committed to increasing the percentage of global spend by leveraging its 80+ Corporate Members and connecting them to women suppliers across the globe.

On top of my internship and class schedule, through The Fund for American Studies, I attended lectures and seminars such as one that sparked my interest in free speech issues on college campuses.  During the 2017-18 academic year, I helped Dr. Sydnor conduct research regarding political incivility on university campuses. So attending this TFAS seminar was insightful as I heard different perspectives speak about how free speech should be regulated on university campuses.

Along with the impactful professional and academic experiences I had this summer, I tremendously enjoyed living in Washington, D.C.  Having heard about this opportunity through a graduate who was able to live and intern in D.C. last summer through the assistance of the Hatton W. Summers Foundation, I eagerly applied in January to be a part of TFAS to see if living in D.C. would be a fit for me after graduation. After exploring different neighborhoods, eating all over town, and frequenting the Smithsonians, I am hooked on this city! I intend to return to the Washington, D.C. area after graduation to start my professional career. Through the generosity of the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation and external institutional funding, I can confidently finish my senior year at Southwestern, working towards the goal of returning to D.C.

–Camille Martin ’19