Internships Take Students to the Center of Action

Posted: October 12, 2009 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: February 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

Mason’s location just outside Washington, D.C., offers its students convenient access to the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Through internships and other employment, students gain valuable professional experience before they graduate. Following are examples of how these opportunities enrich the educational experience for Mason students.

Grad Student Lands Department of Education Position

By Rashad Mulla

Megan Ibbotson. Photo by Nicolas Tan

Megan Ibbotson. Photo by Nicolas Tan

Aspiring teacher Megan Ibbotson (BA Psychology ’06) wears several hats, and, as the longest-tenured current member of the Patriot Platoon, the Mason men’s basketball fan club, she sometimes wears a green wig.

Working toward a master’s degree in counseling and development, Ibbotson joined the U.S. Department of Education in the summer of 2008 as part of its Student Career Experience Program. (One of the perks of the position, she recently learned, was getting to play basketball with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. She says she used moves she learned from watching Mason basketball.)

Ibbotson currently works in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, a post which allows her to help others, she says. She reviews proposals, notifications and press releases and helps review and distribute grants to universities or institutions. Funds from her office help people with disabilities as well, she points out.

“My supervisor brought me in with the intention of making this a learning experience,” Ibbotson says. “I have never done the same thing twice. I’m always given new tasks and responsibilities, so every day is a new challenge to learn.”

Last year, Ibbotson was responsible for planning an Education Department conference, and she was the department’s sole representative at the National Council of Rehabilitation Educators conference held in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently planning another conference to be held later this month. As her time with the department has increased, so have her responsibilities.

“When this opportunity came along, I ran with it,” Ibbotson says. “Meeting researchers and scholars at conferences and having this broad knowledge will help me in general as a counselor.”

Her plan is to eventually become a teacher, but she says she loves her Education Department job and says it will help her in the long run. When she graduates in December, she becomes eligible for a position with the government.

Ibbotson has complemented her academic career with internships and jobs with several Virginia schools. She worked in Loch Lomond Elementary School and George P. Mullen Elementary School, both in Manassas, Va. She now has an internship at Bull Run Middle School in Gainesville, Va.

Ibbotson is also the president of Chi Sigma Iota, the honor society for counseling students at Mason.

Mason Law Students Visit GTMO as JAG Interns

By Steve Fugelsang and Donna Sneed

Cpation. Photo courtesy of Steve Fugelsang

Natasha Clay, Juli Porto and Steve Fugelsang in front of the Marine Corps East Gate to Cuba. Photo courtesy of Steve Fugelsang

Three Mason School of Law third-year students traveled to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in July as guests of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. They were on a four-day trip arranged by the U.S. Department of Defense for about two dozen Army and Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps summer interns.

The primary purpose of the trip was to tour the base facilities and legal operations. These included the Expeditionary Legal Complex, built for the Office of Military Commissions, including the state-of-the-art courtroom and holding cells in which Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other detainees were tried by military commission.

The visit allowed for briefings on the history of military commissions, as well as the background and present status of the military commission process, and included discussions with a prosecutor, a defense counsel and a military commissions judge for a full perspective on the commissions process.

While staying at GTMO, the students—Juli Porto, Natasha Clay and Steve Fugelsang—were billeted in air-conditioned military tents at the base’s Camp Justice.

On a bus tour of Camp Delta, the group visited six of the detainee prison camps, where they viewed the exteriors of the camps and disembarked for a closer view of a portion of the prison area.

The chief of detainee investigations and a representative from the detainee medical corps charged with overseeing the health and well-being of the 230 prisoners on base briefed the interns during their visit.

Another destination was the Marine Corps East Gate to Cuba, the designated Cuban-American border area where U.S. and Cuban officials conduct monthly meetings to discuss issues pertaining to the American presence on the island.

Fugelsang and Porto at Camp Justice. Photo courtesy of Steve Fugelsang

Fugelsang and Clay at Camp Justice, where the students stayed in military tents. Photo courtesy of Steve Fugelsang

“It was an intense and sobering experience,” says Porto, an Army JAG intern at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax, Va.

“I gained a perspective of the legal and practical issues facing the United States regarding how to manage the Guantánamo Bay detainees that I don’t believe can be gleaned from second-hand reports.”

Fugelsang echoed Porto’s sentiments, saying, “After seeing the unrivaled dedication and professionalism of our uniformed men and women at Guantánamo, I’m more committed than ever to serving our country in the Armed Forces.”

An Air Force JAG intern at the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., Fugelsang hopes to join the U.S. Navy JAG Corps after graduation.

Clay, an Air Force JAG intern at the 11th Wing Base Legal Office at Bolling Air Force Base, comments, “I had an incredible experience, and I’m really looking forward to applying to be an Air Force JAG after graduation.”

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