University at Albany

Washington, D.C. Alumni Support Student Success Through Semester in Washington

Twenty-five University at Albany students recently completed Rockefeller College’s Semester in Washington (SIW) program. The upperclassmen spent their spring semester living and working in the nation’s capital, earning credit while taking classes and completing an internship with a public official, government or public service agency, or advocacy organization.

Semester in Washington students in Statuary Hall with
Congressman Lee Zeldin BA ’01 (R-NY-1)

In addition to affording students the chance to apply their interests, skills and passions in a practical workplace setting, the SIW program provides numerous opportunities for UAlbany juniors and seniors to meet political leaders and policymakers, gain greater understanding of government and public sector institutions, and explore Washington, D.C.’s unique neighborhoods, historic landmarks, and rich arts and cultural offerings.

Thanks to a strong and active alumni network in D.C., Rockefeller’s SIW continues to evolve, each year offering more personalized and meaningful learning opportunities for participants.

"It was an honor and privilege to serve as an intern sponsor and mentor for the Washington Semester program,” said Rockefeller College Advisory Board member Sheri Denkensohn, BS ’89, currently senior advisor for public health oversight in the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The caliber of the students was outstanding and the special panels and programs included as part of the curriculum made for a very robust real-world experience for the participants. It made me proud to be a UAlbany alumna. I was able to work with a fabulous intern, participate as a panelist and also attend top-notch events. I look forward to continued involvement in the Semester in Washington program and I applaud the University for its support of this valuable initiative."

Alumni have long played an integral role in the success of the Semester in Washington program. Rockefeller collaborates with its D.C. alumni to coordinate and host special events at their workplaces, lead discussions on important policy topics, serve as mentors, and offer career advice and professional networking opportunities for students.

Among the highlights of this year’s alumni-driven SIW programming were:

  • Rockefeller College Advisory Board members Jennifer Manner, BA ’86, Frank Jazzo, BS ’80, Dana Chasin, and Sheri Denkenson, BS ’89 organized a panel discussion about careers in the field of law.
  • Stanislava Mladenova, MPA ’05, who works as lead instructor on the Security Sector Education Team at the United States Institute of Peace Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, invited colleagues from the international affairs community to speak with students about careers in the Foreign Service.
  • Congressman Lee Zeldin, BA ’01 (R-NY-1) welcomed SIW students to the United States Capitol – not once but twice. Rep. Zeldin shared his experiences as a first term congressman and gave students an insider’s tour of the Capitol.
  • Politico Executive Assistant Marc Sames, BA '13 arranged a visit to his workplace which included a conversation with his boss Peter Cherukuri, executive vice president for advertising and business development, and Francis Holuba, director of social enterprise. Holuba formerly oversaw global engagement for the Obama administration’s National Security Council.
  • Rockefeller College Advisory Board member, Jim Douglas, MPA ‘72, Smithsonian Institution director of human resources and his colleague Richard Kurin, acting provost and under secretary for museums and research, met with students at the Smithsonian Castle.
  • Colin Cleary held a talk for SIW students at the United States Institute for Peace.
  • Brian Gallagher, BA ’15, a media realtions assistant at the D.C. law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, spoke with students at the U.S. Supreme Court after they concluded a tour.
  • Michelle MIttler, BA ’10, held a meet-and-greet for students with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5). Michelle, who works as director of scheduling for Rep. Hoyer, shared sage job-hunting advice with students as well.
  • Peter Brusoe, MA ’04, BA ’03, a campaign finance specialist at Bloomberg, organized and sponsored a number of special events for students, including a service day at the D.C.-based nonprofit Martha’s Table, a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, and an alumni event at the Anacostia River Festival.
Daniela Zolorzano and Congresswoman
Grace Meng (D-NY-6)
Rockefeller alumni have shown their generosity not only by sharing their time and expertise, but also by providing scholarship support that makes studying in Washington attainable for many SIW students who otherwise would not be able to participate. 

“Receiving the Professor Michael J. Malbin Washington Semester Scholarship helped make my dreams tangible,” said Daniela Zolorzano, a junior from Astoria, N.Y. “If it weren’t for the Semester in Washington program, I would have never have had the privilege of being the only congressional intern on Capitol Hill this semester and the first SUNY intern in Congresswoman Grace Meng’s office. The scholarship helped defray transportation costs related to my internship. I was able to spend my days with top policymakers, draft legislation, give Capitol tours and be a part of meetings that represented a myriad of political perspectives. The scholarship allowed me to be in the heart of the nation’s capital. I was able to network with various professionals and have a richly rewarding career opportunity.

(left to right) Salvatore Messina, Orion
Marchese, Kevin Koller, Matt Leger,
and Brandon Cordero outside the U.S.
Supreme Court

UAlbany senior Matt Leger, a native of Fitchburg, Mass., was grateful to the Rockefeller alumni for supporting his time in Washington. “I had incredible experiences touring the White House’s West Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, the State Department, the United States Institute of Peace, the Holocaust Museum and much more,” said Matt. “I have grown to absolutely love D.C. and hope that I can one day call it my home. The scholarship you were able to provide me helped make everything possible and I will be forever grateful for every penny afforded to me.”

2016 Semester in Washington Students and Internship Placements

  • Araba Aidoo-Apau, Human Rights Campaign
  • Shelby Belak, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General
  • Yeon Gyeong Choi, World Affairs Council
  • Brandon Cordero, Potomac Institute
  • Charles Coryer, Washington, D.C. Office of the Attorney General
  • Jessica Cruz, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
  • Katherine Diab, Vera Institute
  • Amanda Goldfine, Capitol Associates
  • Kaylin Harrington, Executive Office of the President, Emergency Management
  • Shelby Hettenbach, Citizens for Global Solutions
  • Jona Hoxha, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Kevin Koller, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Matt Leger, Potomac Institute
  • Bobby Mainville, Human Rights Campaign, Government Affairs
  • Christina Mamone, Washington D.C. Public Schools, Urban Education Leaders Internship Program
  • Orion Marchese, Project FairVote
  • Salvatore Messina, Smithsonian Associates, Development & Advancement
  • Ashley Milosevic, Washington, D.C. Office of the Attorney General
  • Charlotte Moller, National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Marymilt Restituyo, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy
  • Brittany Romagnoli, National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Trinny Terrazas, Brazilian Embassy
  • Melody Tien, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
  • Holly Wilkinson, Smithsonian Institution, Office of Fellowships & Internships
  • Daniela Zolorzano, Office of Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY-6)

View a gallery of photos from the semester.

Rockefeller College's Semester in Washington is offered every spring. For more information, please visit

Article originally published on May 25, 2016
Contact: Mary Hunt at 518.442.526