POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Pound Ridge native and Quinnipiac University student Matthew Bowser is spending this week in the nation’s capital getting the rare opportunity to peek behind the political curtain that is Washington.
Bowser is among 21 Quinnipiac University students chosen to participate in a 10-day presidential inauguration seminar, where they get to witness history, explore career paths, make professional contacts, and interact with nationally and internationally recognized political leaders and journalists.
“It’s been great so far,” said Bowser, a sophomore political science major. “We have gotten to see people we never would have gotten to see otherwise. We have speakers coming every day like Grover Norquist. Today, we got to meet Brian Lamb, chairman and founder of C-Span, and Susan Page (Washington bureau chief for USA Today). We’ve met lot of media people.
Led by Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac, the students are getting a behind-the-scenes perspective on Washington politics and media through site visits to embassies, executive branch offices, congressional offices, media organizations, nonprofit think tanks and trade associations. A bus tour of the city and special events, including a reception at the National Press Club, are also part of this Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars program.
"Our students learn so much more about the issues facing the Congress and the president in 2013 when they can meet journalists and leaders in Washington during the inauguration," said McLean, who has been leading Quinnipiac students to presidential inaugurations since 2001.
Bowser said the group has been trying to get tickets to President Barack Obama’s inauguration, but has been unsuccessful so far.
“If we don’t it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “We were at CNN today and they have a show covering it, and we have been invited to sit in with that.”
Bowser attended Fox Lane Middle School and graduated from The Harvey School in Katonah. He said that after he graduates from Quinnipiac, he hopes to pursue a career with the Defense Department or as a lobbyist.
“I knew as a poly-sci major this trip it would be important,” he said. “I jumped at the opportunity. I thought it would be a good way to network and contribute to my professional development.”
Bowser was born in Washington, D.C., and knows the city well. When his group gets as a break from its frenetic schedule he’ll act as an informal tour guide for some of his classmates.
“Once classwork is over on Saturday, we will be able to explore the city on our own, and I will bring my friends around D.C. to see things that are personal to me,” he said. “Some of the most special places to me include the back of the Lincoln Memorial – at night it has a great view. My granddad was actually at Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” so it’s special, and my friends will get to know that side of me. And we’ll go to Arlington Cemetery. My great-grandfather is buried there. He was in the Army and a World War I vet.”