NUI Galway Students Immersed in the Atmosphere of the Obama Administration

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Two NUI Galway students are among a select group chosen to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the new Obama administration, through internships in Washington DC. Part of a group of thirty-one students from Ireland and Northern Ireland, Anne Parsons and Heather Watters were selected for the US trip by the Washington Ireland Program (WIP). Heather Watters from Emyvale, Co. Monaghan, is a final year Corporate Law student at NUI Galway, and is working on Capitol Hill for the summer at the office of Representative Tim Holden. Final year Arts student Anne Parsons from Portlaoise, Co. Laois, is studying English and Philosophy at NUI Galway. Anne is interning at Imagination Stage, which produces theatre and arts education for young people. WIP selects promising individuals, from Ireland and Northern Ireland, who will ultimately use their unique talents to contribute back to their home communities. Last year, NUI Galway Corporate Law student Peter Mannion was part of the WIP programme and worked with the then Senator, now President, Barack Obama's office. NUI Galway's Vice-President for the Student Experience, Mary O'Riordan, stated that: "NUI Galway is delighted to support WIP which provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to participate in this very exciting programme". The students, who will return to Ireland in August, have already held a private meeting with the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, at the Supreme Court. Each student must also undertake a speaking moment at a high profile event, and attend functions at venues including the Embassy of Ireland, the National Press Club, the US Congress, and the United Nations. Speaking about the Program, Heather Watters said: "The team is so varied, and each person so unique, it is such a great experience. The work placement has been very helpful. Although I study Law, I have never been a huge follower of local Irish politics. Now having been placed in Congressman Tim Holden's office, I have gained a new found respect for all the invisible people in politics, and the procedures that occur". Anne Parsons commented: "It is a great honour to be representing NUI Galway. I received enormous support from English and Philosophy in my application process, in particular from Dr Felix Ó Murchadha and Dr John Kenny. I have had an incredible experience so far with the Washington Ireland Program. We have been given so many opportunities to meet so many influential people, from Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court to political speechwriters and CEOs. My experience so far at Imagination Stage has been so positive". Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year, WIP is an organisation designed to give students a rich insight into America's professional and social culture, through a two-month internship and an intensive training course in leadership and service. This year produced an unprecedented level of interest in the Program. Ireland Director, Jonathan Chesney, believes this level of interest ensures the Program really does pick the very best students: "Due to the record number of applicants, this year's selection process was exceptionally competitive and as a result, we have a phenomenal team".
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