Students Represent Mason as White House Interns

Posted: April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm, Last Updated: April 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

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By Erin Cushing

From left, Anne Marie Poblador, Jacob Small and Fatimeh Shamseddine are White House interns this spring. Photo courtesy of the students

Three Mason students were selected to participate in the White House Internship Program this spring. According to the program’s website, the internship positions are designed to help prepare future leaders and those interested in public service for leadership opportunities, while making the White House more accessible to talented and promising students.

Interns are placed in one of 17 departments at the White House and are assigned to various tasks to help ensure that the department smoothly carries out its mission.

Following are students who are currently representing Mason at the White House:

Fatimeh Shamseddine from Columbia, Md., will graduate in May with an MA in International Commerce and Policy concentrating in global governance. She has been working in the Office of the White House Fellows. The fellowship program offers participants a full-year, paid assistantship to a top-ranking government official to learn hands-on about public policy decision making and national government. Shamseddine’s job is to help the staff screen and select prospective fellows.

Shamseddine says she has met many high-caliber leaders throughout the course of her internship. She reports that she also has gained a deeper insight regarding the complexity of decision making in public policy.

“Through my internship, I’ve learned how to maximize my skills and work at my fullest capacity without feeling overwhelmed,” she says. “Every day at the White House has been a unique experience.”

Shamseddine says she decided to attend Mason because of its “unique, interdisciplinary International Commerce and Policy program that allows me to build expertise in the two fields I am most passionate about, governance and business.”

She hopes to one day serve in a federal agency and eventually open her own business strategy and organizational development consulting firm. She credits those with whom she works at the White House for giving her advice on how to further herself in her chosen career paths.

Jacob Small will graduate in May with a JD, specializing in litigation. Small has been working in the Office of the Vice President. There, he conducts research, writes memos and other interoffice communications and reviews legal documents.

Small reports that these duties are usual for legal interns, but he has also had experiences unique to the White House program. He has had the opportunity to lead White House tours and run an intern interest group. He was also on hand at the official arrival ceremony for the Prime Minister of the U.K., David Cameron.

Small, who chose Mason’s School of Law because of its proximity to Washington, D.C.,  hails from Arlington, Va.

“I’ve had a chance to learn just how much work, from so many people, goes into running the executive branch and making policy decisions,” he says. “I always knew that the effort was big, but I’ve been struck by the colossal size of the effort.”

When he graduates, Small plans to practice law in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Anne Marie Poblador, a graduate student in public policy who plans on concentrating in international development, has been working in the Office of the Vice President. There, she has been stationed within the operations department, where she works on scheduling and advance.

Her duties include helping the advance team coordinate logistics and assisting in managing invitations delivered to the vice president, as well as helping with events and meetings involving the vice president. Poblador has also had the opportunity to run tours of the East Wing, staff the Black History Month reception at the Naval Observatory and attend the arrival ceremony for Prime Minister Cameron.

Poblador, whose hometown is Largo, Fla., says she chose Mason for its study abroad opportunities and its interdisciplinary public policy program. She says she was able to showcase her skills and demonstrate her ambition during her internship.

“In an office that generally entails a high volume of coordination with staff, I learned the importance of being proactive and taking initiative,” she says. “I realize that a lot of effort goes into planning for the vice president.”

Poblador, who is passionate about advocacy programs that reduce poverty, health and social disparities, hopes to work for the State Department or World Bank after she graduates next year.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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