A Wild and Wonderful Semester in D.C.


Zahava Urecki ’16, a political science major from Charleston, WV, ┬áparticipated in the Washington Semester last fall and interned at Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. She has loved politics since she was an 11 year old watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Her background has prompted her to be interested in domestic politics, either at the national or state level. Zahava mostly wants to work on coal miners issues, especially in her home state.

When Zahava was a sophomore in high school, she went to AIPAC’s annual policy conference in D.C., where she learned how to lobby members of Congress. This allowed her to make many connections because West Virginia has a small constituent base. Therefore, she interned at Senator Manchin’s office in the summer of her freshman year, as well as for former Congressman Nick Joe Rahall. After those internships, Zahava says she fell in love with the Hill and saw a future for her there.

Then, last fall, she returned to Senator Manchin’s office as part of her Washington Semester. The biggest difference between the two experiences was the number of interns in the office. In the summer, there were many more interns, which meant that there was less to do. In the fall, with only four interns aside from Zahava, there was much more to do and learn. The most important thing she learned was the value of hard work. Hard work encompassed being willing to do even the smallest and most boring jobs, like watering the plants, in order to make a good impression. These skills are valuable and will no doubt aid Zahava in her future professional career.

In terms of participating in the Washington Semester versus just having an internship, Zahava stresses that it was much more educational. Having weekly trips and a community of like-minded students helped the transition of living in a big city. She said that the classes were interesting and they added another dimension to her ‘real world’ experience. Does she recommend it? “Absolutely. Everyone should do it regardless of their major,” she said.

For more information about the Washington Semester, contact Dr. Todd Peppers at peppers@roanoke.edu.