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Spartans on Capitol Hill

Published: Wednesday, 29 Mar 2017
Author: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Department: Office of the Dean

group of scholars sit around a conference table at USAID headquarters

Graduate students at Michigan State University's MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program made the most of their spring break experience by visiting Washington, D.C. While the students strengthened their knowledge of American history, they also networked with various organizations and leaders.

Attending the trip were 11 first-year graduate students, from academic disciplines ranging from Public Policy to Agriculture. As these students are new to the U.S., experiencing the nation's capital exposed them to the heart of American history and government.

The group visited popular sites including the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the National Museum of African American History. Throughout the Scholars' tour of the city, the numerous networking opportunities that exist in the capital city were evident.

"While the trip was meant to expose the students to important cultural aspects of the U.S., the trip also focused on meeting with organizations in line with the students' academic and professional interests," according to Laura Wise, Career Development Manager of the program.

While in Washington D.C., the group was able to meet with high-level organizations such as the World Bank, Africare, and USAID. Students interacted with multiple speakers at each organization.

"The idea was to have the students learn more about what the organizations do, but also what the organizations are looking for in prospective employees, and how the students should prepare for those careers," Wise said.

An important addition to the Scholars' trip was their meeting with the African Union, organized by MSU alumnus Daniel Karanja. The meeting included ambassadors from various African nations, such as the newly appointed Ambassador of the African Union Mission to the U.S., Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao.

The meeting enabled the students to engage in conversation with the diplomats about advancing Africa's interests in the U.S., and vice versa. The panelists provided key information that will benefit the students as they move forward in their career paths, and Ambassador Chihombori-Quao provided words of encouragement as well as a mission: "Africans must look inward before looking outward. It's a new day in Africa. Each and every one of us must share that message. We as Africans must make a commitment to market Africa. We must rebrand Africa."

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