A First-Hand Exclusive

MPA student Laura Piscopo was eager to immerse herself in the daily fast-paced buzz that is Capitol Hill and learn about federal policy. So she enrolled in the MPA program’s “Politics of the Federal Bureaucracy” seminar, which included a three-day visit to Washington, DC.

Piscopo, along with fellow MPA candidate Denise Dembkoski, were two of 14 students who took the trip to the nation’s capital, led by Professor Linda Melconian.

“I had heard such great things about this class and was excited for the up-close exposure to our federal government and legislators, and the overall learning experience,” said Dembkoski.

“The intensity and pace of the trip definitely lived up to its reputation,” Piscopo said.

Their group met and interviewed members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, as well as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Interim Senator Mo Cowen. They also reviewed briefings from several federal departments, including the President’s Office of Management and Budget, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of State, the National Mediation Board, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And they had access to parts of the Capital Building that most tourists never see.

They also met with Suffolk alumni who shared success stories of how they leveraged their degrees into federal careers.

Gaining a New Perspective

This inside access allowed students to learn about our nation’s government from a whole new standpoint. They witnessed some of the major challenges within the field, yet saw an inspiring sense of hope at the same time.

“The most memorable part was meeting Senators Cowan and Warren in two different interviews. They were new faces on the hill, and you couldn’t help being touched by their idealism, commitment, and passion,” said Piscopo.

The interviews and briefings that the group experienced in DC enhanced their understanding of topics they discussed in the classroom, such as the debt ceiling, budget sequestration, and current bills in front of Congress.

“It gave me a new appreciation for the federal bureaucracy. I think it was a stark reality to hear about these things first hand, from the people on the front lines every day,” said Dembkoski.

“Each interview and briefing brought insight and knowledge,” Piscopo said. “It was also encouraging to meet with so many successful Suffolk alumni with careers in Washington, DC. I felt proud to be part of this university.”

Enriching the Classroom Experience

Students described the trip as a valuable experience that complemented the classes they had already taken.

“I would absolutely recommend this course and trip to other students.” The course would be beneficial with only the classroom component; however, it is the trip that makes it so meaningful,” said Piscopo.

“The three days felt like such a whirlwind. It was a remarkable experience that I will remember forever,” said Dembkoski