ACU Honors in D.C. will have spots for eight honors students to live together, earn colloquium credit and intern with various organizations throughout the Capital.
Dr. Jason Morris, dean of the Honors College, said he noticed ACU didn’t have many opportunities for students of all majors to intern in D.C.
“I felt like that was a void and a niche the Honors College could fill,” Morris said. “Especially since our students here are very motivated, driven and talented.”
Morris and his Honors staff have worked to create an experience for students to engage in the culture of D.C., but also stay connected to the ACU community.
“What we tried to do there is put an ACU touch behind an experience,” Morris said. “Students have gone and had individual experiences before, but all of our students will take the same 1-hour colloquium, they’ll live together at the same facility and will also have weekly meetings with ACU alumni.”
Honors will assist accepted students with securing internships around D.C. for the coming summer. But before their internships begin, the group will take a 1-hour honors colloquium in D.C. taught by Dr. Tracy Shilcutt, titled “DC: Chronicles, Character and Culture.”
Students will live in a facility operated by the National Collegiate Honors Council with other Honors students from around the country. Housing costs $3,500 for the two-month duration of the program, but each accepted student will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Honors College to help with the cost.
Rachael Shudde, sophomore math and political science major from Ovalo, is serving as the student coordinator for ACU Honors in D.C. Shudde interned in D.C. after her freshman year and she said she hopes the new program will help more students be prepared for life in the city.
“I am hoping that the students who go through the program won’t have the same first hectic three weeks that I had,” Shudde said. “I didn’t know what was going on or where anything was or how to work the Metro.”
Shudde will now function as an advisor to students in their quest for internships.
“Anyone can have one of these internships; anyone can find a spot in D.C.,” Shudde said. “It was such an experience working in the most powerful square mile in the world, but the hardest thing to do is get your foot in the door.”
Morris and Shudde said they hope to see students from different majors apply to the program.
“Typically, ACU political science students go,” Morris said. “But there are all kinds of different organizations that would fit just about any major offered on campus. It is a vibrant city and people are there from around the world, from around our country. There’s commerce, there’s government. There’s nonprofits. We really want to open these opportunities up for our students to go and engage.”
An interest meeting will be held on September 22 for Honors students interested in applying to the program. All classifications are welcome, but regarding the eight spots, Morris said preference will be given to rising seniors and juniors.
Even in its early days, Morris said he looks forward to seeing how the program will grow and expand in the future.
“As I lead the college and our students that come in to the honors college, it’s extremely important that our students have opportunities during their four years that enable them to be successful in their professional careers,” Morris said. “Nothing gets at that better than real world experience.”