Criminal justice, political science students travel to nation’s capital

Students meet with Assistant Sergeant at Arms Ted Daniel
Students meet with Assistant Sergeant at Arms Ted Daniel.

Criminal justice and political science students at Radford University left Roanoke via train to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

The students visited key government sites on the May trip, which included Congress, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the D.C. Superior Court, the Government Accountability Office, the FBI and, for the first time, the Department of Education and the White House.

Criminal Justice Professor Nicole Hendrix developed the course and trip five years ago as a capstone to her Criminal Justice Theory and Research course. Three years ago, Political Science Associate Professor Tanya Corbin’s Politics and Policy in Action course joined the trip.

By making the educational excursion interdisciplinary, students are able to see various vantage points. Now, students work with alongside their peers to gain a deeper understanding about the Washington, D.C. trip.

A dinner with alumna Patricia DeLoatche, from Sidley Austin, LLC, kicked off the trip. Students also met with other Radford University alumni on the trip.

Students pose for a picture outside the J. Edgar Hoover building, home of the FBI.

Students pose for a picture outside the J. Edgar Hoover building, home of the FBI.

In addition to spending time with alumni, the trip to Washington D.C. included behind-the-scenes learning and tours, career advice and briefings for the students, who readily absorbed the knowledge.

“You can get something out of every opportunity,” Hendrix said. “I tell students that you learn to recognize every opportunity presented to you – it is something more than it appears. Doing that is a real skill. Make the most of opportunities, even ones you don’t think will help you. It might be what teaches you the most or gets you to where you’d like to be.”

For Tyler Blalock, of Abingdon, the trip helped her understand the complex processes in the nation’s capital.

“I came into this trip thinking I knew exactly the field and occupation I wanted to pursue. I thought these visits were mainly trying to build networks to aid us in achieving our goals,” Blalock said. “However, it is accomplishing that and more; not only are we gaining contacts that are extremely knowledgeable in their sector, but we are also able to explore the varying occupations and processes [in Washington, D.C.].”

Nothing serves as a greater teacher than experience, and this class gives you a firsthand look at how things are being done.

Tyler Blalock

The group spent a full day visiting Congress. The students toured the Capitol Building before splitting into two groups based on majors, where criminal justice students met with the Assistant Sergeant at Arms Ted Daniel. While learning about security at the Capitol Building, political science students met with Congressional staffers who discussed career opportunities and offered advice.

“This trip brought out a lot in me, like realizing the importance of some of these agencies and how they go about their work,” said Valente Perez from Fredericksburg, Virginia. “Not only that but making connections with professionals in this field will be very helpful soon, for tips or asking on any information regarding internships.”

Corbin said that “when students visit D.C., they meet dedicated public servants who are working for the greater good, and our site visits include nonpartisan agencies, where they learn about the scope of government work beyond politics.”

Political science students are able to understand government and the witness first-hand how the agencies assist with the processes that go into governing.

“Students tell me [the trip] opens up a myriad of career possibilities for them, as well as enriching their understanding of the complexity and connectedness of the government agencies and branches,” Corbin said. “Many political science majors and minors don’t realize the scope and type of government work that their studies prepare them for until they see the work in practice.”

Jun 5, 2018
Max Esterhuizen