Future teacher finds career connections in Washington

Maggie Hedrick

Maggie Hedrick

At first, Maggie Hedrick wasn't sure the Washington Semester Program, offered by Roanoke College in partnership with 12 other Lutheran colleges, was right for her. A political science major, she thought it sounded interesting, but wasn't sure it was a good fit for her future plans to become a teacher.

"I talked to my advisor, Dr. [Todd] Peppers, and figured out there were ways it would apply," she said. Peppers, the Henry H. and Trudye Fowler Professor of Public Affairs at Roanoke, is the College's Washington Semester Program director.

Hedrick, who wants to teach government or social studies at the middle or high school level, said her internship with the Smithsonian National Education Outreach program has been just what she hoped for.

"I think my internship has helped me more than I expected. I'm making contacts, planning, organizing and learning to communicate more professionally," she said.

A commuter student at Roanoke, Hedrick said living in Washington was more of an adjustment for her than for students who live on campus, but that makes her appreciate the opportunity even more.

"Being more independent, grocery shopping and cooking is different but it's definitely been a good experience," she said.

Students in the Washington Semester Program take two courses and complete at least 12 hours of volunteer work while living in College-owned housing and interning in Washington. Hedrick has enjoyed volunteering with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but says the coursework has been especially interesting.

One of her classes, Capital Landmarks and Art and Architecture, gives Hedrick a chance to learn about art - something she loves but hasn't had time to study at Roanoke. And the setting for it, she said, makes the course even better.

Hedrick said her other class, which focuses on violence and values, is taught by a professor who was one of the NYPD's first female officers. "She now has her Ph.D.," Hedrick said. "She's one of those people you feel like you would never actually meet. She has done everything."

By the time Hedrick finishes her semester in Washington, she will have done everything required of Roanoke's Washington Semester Program participants. Most memorable, she said, was attending a Senate hearing where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave testimony about No Child Left Behind legislation.

"It was great because it directly correlates to my future career," she said.

Hedrick, it turns out, found just the right way to connect a first-rate, first-hand experience to her plans for the future.

-Traci Crockett '01