Meeting John Lewis

Yesterday, as an invited guest of the American University School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS) Washington Semester Program, I met with Congressman John Lewis in Professor Dan Freeman’s Public Law class.  It was surreal to be in the presence of such storied heroism.

Congressman Lewis was everything I had hoped for — down to earth, engaging, inspiring, and larger than life.  He is a product of his past, beginning as the son of sharecroppers, then becoming a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr, and now serving as a Congressman with a distinguished his civil rights record.  Roll Call magazine wrote, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.” Professor Freeman’s class and I met that person face-to-face.  He filled the room with his indomitable energy and spirit.  The students and I will not forget the meeting with the courageous Representative John Lewis.

Another hero in the room yesterday deserves attention.  I was moved by Dan Freeman’s elegant teaching and insightful interactions with students.  Professor Freeman possesses eloquence and grace addressing his class.  He truly cares; this only supplements his encyclopedic knowledge of Public Law.  He makes learning fun!  I am grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with these change agents who bring more justice to the world.  

I posted this blog entry here on March 21:


Permatern: Perma-change in internships? Perma-not really.


I write to draw your attention to a February 2013 Washingtonian article “The Age of the Permanent Intern,” by Hannah Seligson, and my American University School of Professional and Extended Studies (SPExS) reaction to it. The story here,  reveals that recent college graduates are often exploited in long-term internships that offer no credit and are unpaid.  In this age of “permaterns” and non-academic internships making headlines everywhere, the value of learning outcomes in an educational, credit-bearing internship distinguishes itself.  
Of course, our students must sharpen skills and articulate learning outcomes in our AU academic programs.  Permaterns must not. Nonetheless, in this changing economy, permaterns will have a certain impact on internship options in Washington, DC, and beyond. 
As the landscape of the internship world changes, we will continue to focus on student learning and the development of new professional skills at AU.  In our long-celebrated programs, I am reassured to talk to internship sites and students who value the educational nature of SPExS.  Our goal will remain fixed on rigorous experiential education; I am confident that internship sites will constantly seek the benefit of our academic interns.  The presence of permaterns in Washington, DC, may influence internship options to a certain degree.  They will not change rigorous experiential education learning outcomes in SPExS. Perma-never!