University at Albany

From Capital to Capital: Rockefeller Students To Spend the Spring Semester Studying and Interning in Washington, D.C.

Twenty University at Albany upperclassmen are participating in Rockefeller College's Semester in Washington program this spring.

Professor Michael Malbin and students visit the
Albert Einstein Memorial outside the National
Academy of Sciences.

Their arrival in the nation's capital the last week of January marked the culmination of several months of preparation for challenging internships which, over the course of the spring semester, will give them an opportunity to apply their interests, skills and passions in a practical workplace setting.

For instance, junior Monica Dejesus-Ramirez has parlayed her work for the University at Albany's peer assistance hotline Middle Earth into an internship with RAINN, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. The experiences she's gained working with Middle Earth made her an excellent fit for RAINN's 24/7 hotline. Additionally, Monica, who is of Mexican descent, is using her language skills to help RAINN create Spanish versions of its webpages to better serve Spanish-speaking individuals. History major Matt Fleisig hopes his placement at the U.S. Capitol Historical Society will help him achieve his long-term goal of becoming a public historian. Other internship assignments include positions at the the White House, U.S. Supreme Court, congressional offices, the Department of State, and numerous high profile public service organizations.

(L-R) Semester in Washington Scholarship winners: Maria
Randazzo, Brian Gallagher, Hetty Jarvis, and Nayrum Gasu
In addition to their internships and coursework, students have numerous opportunities to meet political leaders, network with alumni, and get an inside view of politics — and the nation's capital itself. Shortly after arriving in D.C, students were treated to dinner at Hunan Dynasty, a popular Capitol Hill eatery frequented by Washington political elites like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

On day two, the group embarked on a guided tour of the city led by noted author, historian, and certified Washington master tour guide Jeanne Fogle. The full-day tour traversed the District, with stops at a number of treasured national landmarks including the White House, Vietnam Memorial, Embassy Row, the Pentagon, and the National Building Museum. Block by block, Jeanne introduced students to the capital through her expertise in Washington history and her love of the city. She told students of the controversy that once surrounded architect Maya Lin's design for the now iconic and beloved Vietnam Memorial. Jeanne pointed out how stairs in the National Building Museum were crafted with wide treads and low risers to accommodate wounded veterans who came to collect their pensions when the building served as the United States Pension Bureau. Next came a visit to Embassy Row where students saw Woodrow Wilson's home, the only presidential museum in Washington, D.C. After lunch, the tour crossed the Potomac River to see the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial before returning to Washington for a final stop in Lafayette Square at the White House. 

Students wait outside their Washington home for Jeanne Fogle,
a fourth-generation Washingtonian and Certified Master Tour

After a weekend spent exploring the city's many museums and monuments, the students were treated to lunch by members of the Rockefeller College Advisory Board, including Jennifer Manner (host of the event), Vincent J. Abramo, Peter Brusoe, Frank Jazzo, and Lawrence Korb. Each alum shared networking and career advice as well as an offer to mentor the students as they connect the lessons of their internships to the career paths they will choose after college.

Students and Rockefeller alumni gather for a Semester in Washington welcome lunch on Monday, January 26, 2015.

The Semester in Washington program is open to all UAlbany juniors and seniors regardless of major.  Students earn 15 credits while taking classes and completing an internship with a public official, government or public service agency, advocacy organization, or private sector business. Students work at their internships four full days each week, earning nine credits for the experience. In addition, they take two political science classes, Research and Writing in Washington and Washington in Perspective, taught by Professor Michael Malbin. Dr. Malbin has more than 25 years of experience working in Washington in both the legislative and executive branches of government, and as a reporter, think tank scholar and director of the Campaign Finance Institute. The students are also assisted by Adam Kress, who serves as the program's assistant director, and the Rockefeller College Office of Careers & Internships headed by Jennifer Maclaughlin.

Rockefeller College's Semester in Washington is offered every spring. Applications for 2016 will be accepted this April and October. For more information, please visit

Following is a list of Spring 2015 Semester in Washington students and their internship placements:

2015 Internship Placements

  • Michael Albaranes:  White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Cristina Alston:  Potomac Institute
  • Rose Avellino: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Arabelis Brito:  Center for American Progress — Legal Division
  • Alexa Cappola:  National Endowment for Democracy
  • Evan Chin:  Public Defender Service
  • Patrick Cronin:  U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY-19)
  • Monica Dejesus-Ramirez:  The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
  • Iton Egopija:  InterAction
  • Jonathan Falconi:  District of Columbia Office of Attorney General
  • Matthew Fleisig:  U.S. Capitol Historical Society
  • Brian Gallagher:  U.S. Supreme Court
  • Nayram Gasu:  Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights
  • Hetty Jarvis:  NOW Membership Intern
  • Christian Johnson:  Department of State
  • Colin Jones:  U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY-19)
  • Christian Napolitano:  U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, Minority Whip (D-MD-5)
  • Bettina Orillia:  World Affairs Council
  • Kolby Patterson:  U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large)
  • Maria Randazzo:  Center for American Progress -- Enough Project

Though the generosity of Rockefeller College alumni, several Semester in Washington students were awarded scholarships. The 2015 Lampert/DiSarro Scholarship winners were Hetty Jarvis, Nayrum Gasu and Brian Gallagher. The 2015 Mary Reyers & Peter J. Brusoe scholarship awardees were Alexa Cappola and Maria Randazzo.