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Lenoir-Rhyne University student gains valuable experience at Washington Semester program
Lenoir-Rhyne University student gains valuable experience at Washington Semester program

Lenoir-Rhyne University student Virginia Hinzman is part of a life-changing experience in the nation's capital through the Lutheran College Washington Semester program. Hinzman, a political science major from Sanford, North Carolina, is part of the semester-long program.

Hinzman was selected to join 42 other students from colleges and universities throughout the United States. She has completed courses in her major while simultaneously serving in an internship, which is tailored to each student's interests and career goals. The semester operated Jan. 19, to April 26, 2019.

"Virginia is one of Lenoir-Rhyne's best students," said Joseph Mancos, Ph.D, professor of political science. "Her academic record and talents have prepared her for this impressive opportunity."

Hinzman has interned at Unlocking Potential, a nonprofit founded by Carly Fiorina and dedicated to developing leaders in the social sector. The nonprofit offers a variety of program options – from individual, hourly coaching to full-day, immersive programs – to help mission-driven people and teams strengthen their leadership and problem-solving skills. After graduation in May 2019, Hinzman has accepted a full-time role as a program associate with Unlocking Potential.

"I always knew that I wanted to do the Lutheran College Washington Semester," Hinzman said. "It was one of the programs that drew me to Lenoir-Rhyne. One of the main reasons I was attracted to the program was the ability to live, learn, and work in the nation's capital with a built-in support system in place. I thought of it as a trial run to see if I wanted to live in the city full time after graduation. Turns out I do; I love being in the city."

Likewise, the organizations appreciate LCWS.

"We've been so fortunate that Lenoir-Rhyne, with the Lutheran College Washington Semester program, provided an opportunity for Virginia to join our team this semester," said Casey Enders, chief executive officer at Unlocking Potential. "She's added tremendous value across the organization, from developing marketing collateral and recruiting program participants to sharpening our internal processes and ensuring we're operating efficiently."

The students live in metro-accessible, fully furnished penthouse apartments within walking distance to Georgetown while they take their courses and participate in their respective internships. In addition, they toured the nation's capital and experienced some of the monuments, memorials, museums, and galleries. LCWS organized weekly field trips, lectures, and seminars at various sites to expose students to the culture, arts, politics, leadership, history, community engagement. Specifically, the students have participated in tours of the Capitol, Supreme Court and Embassy Row, have watched theater shows, and have been exposed to many other opportunities. The staff and students will round out the semester with a trip to Mount Vernon. Additionally, the staff coordinates speakers for the students such as Holocaust survivors, civil rights activists, and law clerks to Supreme Court Justices to enhance the experience of the students.

According to Hinzman, Washington has endless opportunities. "From Supreme Court and Congressional hearings as well as the cherry blossoms, I think spring is the best time to be in D.C.," Hinzman said. "My favorite trip so far has been a session with Civil Rights Activist Joan Mulholland then going to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture seeing her pictures and stories told on the walls. It was a very special opportunity to talk to someone that made such an impact on the lives of countless people."

Hinzman said she is grateful for the opportunity and recommends this program to both LR current and prospective students.

"I think many people believe that LCWS is just for people interested in political science or politics, and it's not," she said. "You can be any major and have really any interest. From business, art, and medical interest there is really something for everyone in Washington."

As a consortium of 13 institutions of higher education, LCWS brings students together from across the country for experiential learning opportunities in Washington, D.C. Students intern four full days per week for 14 weeks. Through the internship, students strengthen their skills, deepen their understanding of the professional world, and gain unparalleled experience that will set them apart when seeking full-time employment after graduation. Students also pursue two academic courses in a variety of subject areas to augment their professional endeavors.