Category: Fellows, Site Visits

Title: Capitol Hill, CNN & the Pentagon: Fall 2023 Fellows Field Trips Bring Discussion Groups to Life

Throughout the semester, Georgetown students engaged in meaningful and thought provoking discussions with our Fall 2023 GU Politics Fellows. With diverse backgrounds and careers, these Fellows brought knowledge and practical advice to the multitude of jobs in the realm of politics and public service. Students participated in conversations regarding presidential campaigns, journalism and media, national security, the intersection between comedy and politics and career paths on the Hill. 

This past month, students and Student Strategy Team (SST) members were able to bring these discussions to life and visit the spaces that were the very topic of the discussion groups. They had the opportunity to have exclusive conversations with leaders, policymakers and senior practitioners and pull back the curtain on some of the most influential places in DC.

After spending a semester discussing the inner workings of the Hill, Fall ‘23 Fellow Joe Hack (C’09) took his group to the U.S. Capitol where they received a behind-the-scenes tour of the House of Representatives. They had the chance to see the Rayburn Room, Speaker’s Lobby, the House Floor and Majority Whip Emmer’s office.

For self described “government and politics nerd” Will Severn (C‘27), “it was surreal to walk through the same halls and sit in the same rooms that great legislators from Henry Clay to Tip O’Neill had once inhabited.” 

For Joe Massaua (SFS‘25) the highlight of the visit was the group’s conversation with staffers in Majority Whip Emmer’s office. “We sat there for 25 minutes, asking questions on house procedure and what a day in the life looked like.” 

Reflecting on the experience, Luke Hughes (SFS‘27) said, “Being in the same rooms that you see on TV was really the best field trip I have ever been on!”

The Hill was not the only place from TV that students got to visit. CNN senior political analyst and Fall ‘23 Fellow Nia-Malika Henderson spent the semester discussing reporting on the 2024 presidential election in real time. A group of students had the opportunity to visit CNN where they got to learn the process of covering news stories as they break and tour the headquarters thanks to Washington Bureau Chief and GU Politics Advisory Board Member, Sam Feist (L’99).

“I loved seeing the control room and how much communication and chaos goes on behind-the-scenes for every news story,” said Suzie Ahn (C‘26). 

Students also had the opportunity to see the studios where journalists like Wolf Blitzer record their segments, witness the flash rooms in action and even watch Jake Tapper report live.

Speaking to the insight she gained from the trip, Emily Han (C‘26) said, “Going behind the scenes of a channel that I regularly watch gave me a new appreciation for how news coverage is selected, crafted and delivered.”

While there are some places that frequently make an appearance on the GU Politics Living Room television, there are other DC spots that students are probably less familiar with seeing. After a semester of examining national security, foreign policy and the press, Fall ‘23 Fellow Emily Horne brought her SST on a tour of the Pentagon where students had the opportunity to sit in on a press briefing and speak with the public affairs team.

“Our discussion group spent the semester examining the unique relationship between reporters and press secretaries– how a reporter’s goal is to make the news and a government official’s goal is to not make the news,” reflected SST member, Abbey Swartzwelder (C‘25). Visiting the Pentagon was an opportunity for the SST to experience the topics of Emily’s discussion in real life.

Moritz Ludwig, a student at the McCourt School of Public Policy, expressed that, “our visit to the Pentagon was the highlight of my time as an SST member. As an international student, I am beyond grateful for this experience which would not have been possible without Emily’s support.” 

We are so grateful to our Fall 2023 class of Fellows for a fantastic semester. With guest speakers, simulations and off-the-record conversations, discussion groups in the Living Room already bring students closer to issues that are unfolding in the halls of DC. However, these field trips took it a step further and allowed students to put greater context to the topics they discussed throughout the semester. 

“This was an incredibly unique experience and I’m grateful to GU Politics for making it happen,” said Joe Massaua (SFS‘25).


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