Sophia Vogt ‘09 put her International Relations major to work this fall, when she participated in a three and a half month internship at the White House. She‘s no stranger to DC—Vogt interned with Congress in the summer of her junior year, just one of the diverse and enriching experiences that colored her college years. She also played on the tennis team and spent a semester in Austria as part of the German immersion program. A future law student, Vogt said a highlight of the White House internship was shaking hands with US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Sophia, tell us about your internship at the White House. What were your responsibilities?
The internship was surreal! I served in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, where I specifically worked within the Agency Liaison Department. I spent the majority of my time identifying potential casework for constituents who write the president, creating that casework, and processing responses from federal agencies to constituents. An integral part of our internship was to engage in service projects, ranging from food banks to local high schools, where we served to better the DC community. One of the greatest perks of the program was meeting weekly with high-level members of the Obama administration for private Q&A sessions.
"My most memorable class at USD was US National Security, taught by Professor Willoughby. I had never learned much about the security aspect of international relations, and this class really sparked that interest."
I understand you studied international relations at USD. How did your major and liberal arts background prepare you for this position?
I entered the program with a rich, broad view of the world, and the role the United States plays in making important international decisions. The wide range of classes required to complete the IR degree helped diversify my interests, and prepared me to be well-rounded. Specifically, the German immersion trip during my sophomore year (in Salzburg, Austria) changed my life. I am so happy I was required to study abroad as part of the major, because my time in Salzburg with my USD classmates sparked an intense interest in studying foreign affairs. I owe a lot of who I've become to my coursework at USD.
Tell us about your most memorable class at USD. Who was your instructor and what did you take away from the course material?
My most memorable class at USD was US National Security, taught by Professor Willoughby. I had never learned much about the security aspect of international relations, and this class really sparked that interest. Professor Willoughby was such a great teacher, and really encouraged students to get excited about material that could, oftentimes, be difficult to understand. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from such a fine professor.
How did you hear about the White House internship program? What would you say to students interested in attaining a similar internship?
I learned about the internship program on the White House‘s website. I had just returned from six weeks in South America, where I was immersing myself in Latin culture, and decided it was time to put my studies in IR to work in Washington, DC. I had previously served as an intern with Congress and had always considered going back.
Students interested in public service would most likely enjoy the internship. The program is very much geared towards service, and students who show a genuine interest in and track record of getting involved with their communities will benefit from and enjoy the internship most.
Do you have political aspirations? What are your goals for the future?
I am not sure yet. I have always been interested in the legislative branch, and could possibly consider running for Congress one day. That being said, my experience in Washington, DC has really inspired my to pursue my law degree, and serve as a strong voice for people in need. I was able to see, firsthand, how many issues are plaguing Americans, and I want to be empowered to help them in the most significant way possible.
What, in your opinion, makes USD special?
USD is so special because it is a gorgeous campus with an amazing faculty. I had initially come to USD because of the prestigious tennis program, and I quickly fell in love with the International Relations program. The location of the university is unmatchable, the city is so welcoming to college students and the institution itself is so beautiful. I would not have changed a thing about my experience at USD.
- Anne Malinoski ‘11