Seizing the opportunity to spend two weeks in the nation’s capital interacting with politicans, journalists, and policy makers put Jenny Rego, a self-described “political nerd,” in her happy place.

“It was one of my favorite experiences as a Suffolk student,” said Rego, Class of 2018, whose hunger to “meet new people and be in the center of all the action” also has been nourished by internships with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy and with the State Department.

Rego joined students from Suffolk and other universities and colleges across the United Sates for the “Media, Politics, and Advocacy Redefined” academic seminar sponsored by The Washington Center for 12 days in in January.

Close-up with a media favorite

A highlight for Rego was asking a question of Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s "Meet the Press," during a networking session.

“I’m a fan and watch the show every week,” she said.

Rego asked Todd his thoughts about false equivalency in media coverage of political events. He told her that, as a journalist, he sees his job as making sure he presents the American public with both sides of an issue.

A taste of political reality

Getting a front-row seat to Washington’s workings offered a valuable perspective to Rego, who is majoring in Government.

“I’m a hands-on learner, so meeting politicians, media figures, lobbyists, and advocates in person fit right in to my learning style,” she said.

The experiential learning trip also fostered a tight bond among Rego and her Suffolk classmates.

Civic engagement

The Washington Center experience meets a requirement of the Inside Washington course taught by Suffolk Government Professor Christina Kulich-Vamvakas.

“The purpose of the academic seminar is for students to explore the most central issues in American politics, media, and advocacy shaping the Trump administration one year in,” said Kulich-Vamvakas. “It is also for them to experience a ‘shrinking’ of the gulf that they imagine between themselves and where influence lies.

“The goal is for students to walk away with confidence that civic engagement is not only a duty, but a necessity, and that they are capable of engaging thoughtfully and being effective.”

Students were required to keep a journal on their Washington experience, write a research paper, and prepare a poster for the Government Department’s Student Research Conference on April 12.

Career-related experiences

Rego’s influential student experiences include a year at Suffolk’s Madrid campus and two significant internships, all part of her preparation for a career in international relations.

“Studying in Madrid allowed me to experience a new culture and showed me new perspectives outside of the American mindset,” she said.

“Interning for Congressman Kennedy taught me what it’s like to work in a professional political setting with a variety of responsibilities. It was an introduction to the real world.”

Rego’s latest internship is with the U.S. State Department’s Boston Field Office, where she will be working on projects focused on diplomatic security.

She plans to move to Washington after graduation to begin her career. Her long-term goal is to work for the United Nations.

— Tony Ferullo