To another great WPNI semester

Last week, 24 Kent State students packed up their things and said good-bye to a place they called home for the past 15 weeks: Washington, D.C. Having completed the esteemed Washington Program in National Issues, every one of us walked away as a different person than the one who left Kent in January.

We all have gained priceless real world work experience at internships in think tanks, PR firms, advocacy groups and Capitol Hill. When not at work, we spent our time meeting with an impressive array of officials throughout the district, such as ABC’s Sam Donaldson, acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, President Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General Edwin Meese, top President Barack Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn, and, most recently, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. It is impossible to articulate the value of these meetings.

When not at work or in briefings, we spent time at many of D.C.’s free museums, on the National Mall tossing a Frisbee or at happy hours sharpening our networking skills. We picnicked in the shadow of the Washington Monument. We hiked along the Potomac River. We bumped into some of the world’s most powerful individuals – and we earned a semester’s worth of college credit.

This has been our experience, and it can be yours.

Throughout, we were led by Kent State’s own Richard Robyn. Every spring, this man packs up his life, moves to Silver Spring, Md., and works to ensure the best experience for his 24 students. In addition to his regular responsibilities of teaching a class, Robyn constantly works to secure briefings with terribly important and busy individuals. Outside of teaching class and securing briefings, he does not stop. From inviting students to dinner to spending hours in a hospital waiting room, he is incredibly accessible to his students. Robyn’s dedication, along with that of the program’s assistant Kathleen Loughry, to the Washington Program in National Issues and students is remarkable.

The WPNI program and those who make it possible deserve all the praise they can get.

To our fellow Kent State students: We encourage you to look into the WPNI. You will not regret it.

To Robyn and Kathleen Loughry: We are grateful for all you have done for us. We will never forget WPNI 2009.

Jonathan Duffy is a political science major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. He and the students of WPNI 2009 would like to thank everyone in the program for the experience.