Student gets first taste of Washington in semester-long program
"It is absolutely unbelievable how many different things we saw in just a semester," said Besse, a senior from Middleboro, Mass. "I kept a log of every place, every monument, every field trip. The things that we have done have been absolutely amazing. I never thought I could see all this in one semester."
Equally impressive is that Besse managed the requirements of a Washington Semester Program student - including coursework, community service and weekly field trips to explore the city - alongside an intensely busy internship with a non-profit organization called Jubilee USA.
"They don't call us interns because we do so much," he said. Known as associates, Besse and two other students work alongside the executive director and communications director in the organization's Capitol Hill office.
Jubilee USA, among other things, works to end odious foreign debt in other countries. Besse said that his days at Jubilee are always busy with a great variety of tasks. His first big project was conducting research on Argentina's debt default and debt renegotiation.
By the end of his internship, it was tax season in the United States. Besse and his colleagues went to work locally, trying to get legislation passed on fairer taxes and ending loopholes, which meant he found himself in meetings with senators and their aides.
"A lot of stuff [at my internship] has been political," Besse said. "You're meeting with senators. You're talking with senators. You're trying to get legislation passed."
A political science and criminal justice major with a concentration in crime, deviance and social control, Besse wants to go to law school and become an attorney. On his return to Roanoke, Besse is looking forward to a summer internship with the Salem Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. That experience, he said, will focus more on law and less on politics.
"Having both internships under my belt will help me decide exactly what I want to do," he said.
-Traci Crockett '01