Alumni provide students hands-on career experience in Washington D.C.

by Steve Charles

March 3, 2005

While their fellow Wabash men travel the country and the world on Spring Break immersion trips, six students will be exploring their career interests with hands-on experience in Washington D.C. (Click on the link at the bottom of this story to view a photo album of the students in Washington!)

Clay Conner ’06, Benjamin Gonzalez ’07, Luke Lukasik ’06, Benjamin Nguyen Tang Le ’06, Dunmomi Owolabi ’06, and Paul Stolarczuk’06 were selected to participate in the first Jim Graham Externship Experience, serving one-week-long externships with D.C.-area Wabash alumni.

"The experience includes the externship as well as personal interaction outside the office between the students and alumni in the student’s professional field of choice," says Wabash Assistant Director of Career Services Pam Walters. "The externship may also include a carefully defined, short-term project, and some of the students will stay in alumni homes."

"I’ve been doing research here on campus and I really like it," says Conner, whose externship will be spent with Bob Armstrong ’74 at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. "I see it as a possible career, particularly if I don’t choose medicine.

"But Wabash research and real-world research may be very different. I want to find out what research is like outside of Wabash, what people in other parts of the country are working on. If I like that even better, then research could be the career for me."

Lukasik will also be mentored by Armstrong as an assistant in policy research at the National Defense University.

Stolarczuk, who helped start the College’s first Mock Trial Team, and classmate Dunmomi Owolabi will work with attorneys Bert Salinas ’97 and George Patton ’84.

"I want to see the practical side of the law," Stolarczuk says. "I have been analyzing law in a purely theoretical class room setting, and I would like to see how it is applied in real life. I have enjoyed reading court opinions, writing briefs and arguing cases, and I would like to see how these experiences approximate what lawyers do in real life."

"I hope to utilize the critical thinking skills that I have gained from my liberal arts education," Owolabi says. "I also hope to pick up a few tips from lawyers about success in, and out, of law school."

Gonzalez will be mentored by Jonathan Dilley ’99 in Indiana Congressman Dan Burton’s office, while Nguyen Tang Le will work with former Ambassador George Jones ’55 in the Democracy and Governance Department of Development Associates, Inc.

"My political involvement on campus and interest fueled my interest in externship," says Gonzalez. "I hope to find out how our legislative branch operates, and getting to know alumni in this line of work will be a plus, since I am considering a career in the D.C. area."

The Externship program honors Jim Graham ’65, the former director of symposia at the National Defense University who co-founded the National Capital Association of Wabash Men. Graham died in December 2004, but Wabash Director of Alumni Affairs Tom Runge ’71 says that "Jim Graham’s impact on the D.C. association has not diminished, and this program is just one example.

"These young men will make the trip to Washington and come away with an entirely new outlook on life," Runge says. "They’ll make a difference in the world, just as Jim Graham did."

Charles is Wabash College's Director of Publications and Editor of Wabash Magazine.

In Photo Jon Dilley '03 right), who works in Indiana Congressman Dan Burton's Washington office, hosted Ben Gonzalez ’06 in the week-long Washington, D.C. Externship Program.


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