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Once-in-a-life experience: Internship at the nation’s capitol

June 29, 2016 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
When Andrew Rothenstine enrolled at the University of Pikeville as a freshman he never dreamed he would finish his academic career in Washington, D.C. He did just that, spending the spring semester as an intern with The Washington Center (TWC).

The internship program provides a combination of classroom instruction with real-world experience. The program includes an internship, an academic course and participation in the LEAD Colloquium, a structured set of activities that enriches student experience and encourages service.

Rothenstine, of Ashland, was among more than 450 students from across the country and around the globe participating in the four-month internship program. A computer science major, Rothenstine worked four days a week to complete an internship with the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) located at Fort Lesley J. McNair, the second oldest Army post in the U.S. Rothenstine fulfilled his academic requirements and attended a weekly night course – Scandalous Washington: A History of D.C.

IADC’s mission is to provide a professionally oriented, multidisciplinary and graduate-level course of study tailored for senior military and government officials. The IADC’s students leave with a comprehensive understanding of governmental systems, the current international environment, structure and function of the Inter-American system and are given opportunities to study broad-based security issues affecting the hemisphere and the world. The development of these concentrations is accomplished through the detailed study of political, economic, psychosocial and military factors of power.

“At the IADC, I worked to develop a cyber defense policy to protect the IADC’s critical infrastructure and student, faculty and staff personal information from attack,” said Rothenstine. “I programmed various databases adding features and resolving issues when they arose, engineered/developed/tested new applications for the IADC’s students, faculty and staff and provided troubleshooting for various network/IT related issues.”

While interning, he attended lectures on international defense and national security alongside IADC students and worked with a highly skilled information technology team who are current or ex-military.

“Their technical expertise has definitely broadened my skillset as a computer science student,” said Rothenstine. “Gaining real-world experience like this is something that cannot be simulated in a classroom and has proven to be an invaluable asset. I feel like I am one step ahead of the game now. I have developed and learned many skills most college students are never exposed to while in school.”

“I am very proud of Drew,” said Nancy Cade, Ph.D., UPIKE’s liaison to the Washington Center, chair of the division of social sciences and Davenport Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science. “His intern supervisor said he was quite extraordinary and that he was an excellent representative of UPIKE. It is an honor and privilege to work with UPIKE and The Washington Center to be able to offer these opportunities to UPIKE students.” Cade has been involved with TWC since 2004 and has served as a faculty leader for 21 Washington Center seminars with more than 60 UPIKE students attending.

While in Washington, Rothenstine was immersed in a culturally diverse environment which left a lasting impact on the Eastern Kentucky native.

“I was constantly surrounded by people from different cultures who have contrasting beliefs, behaviors, customs and values from my own,” said Rothenstine. “The IADC is home to many high-ranking military and government officials from all over the world including, Brazil, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico and Canada. I now feel more culturally literate and can navigate a multicultural environment with ease. It is exciting to take part in something totally new and different.”

As part of The Washington Center experience, he visited the Pentagon, the FBI Building, Fort Myer, the offices of Congressman Hal Rogers and Senator Rand Paul, FISA Court Judge Reggie Walton’s Judicial Chambers, Congressional Building, Mexican and Nicaraguan Embassy, International-Spy Museum, Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Museums, Newseum and all the national monuments.

Rothenstine heard a variety of notable speakers throughout the internship program, including Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State; Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force; Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, United States Army; Reggie Walton, FISA Court Judge; ADM (Ret.) Anthony M. Kurta, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy; Caron C. Hollis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for counter narcotics and global threats; and analysts from Raytheon, Lockheed and Martin, RAND, Microsoft and NSA.

While on campus at UPIKE, Rothenstine was a member of the varsity golf team, on the dean’s list and the recipient of the AT&T Kentucky Section Washington Center Scholarship, Fred W. Meyer, Jr. Washington Center Scholarship and University of Pikeville Presidential Scholarship.

Prior to his recent internship, he attended TWC’s National Security Seminar in 2015. A 2016 UPIKE graduate, he is the son of Mark and Traci Rothenstine.

“I owe huge thanks to Dr. Nancy Cade (Fred W. Meyer, Jr. Washington Center Scholarship sponsor), UPIKE’s computer science department (Dr. John Cade and Howard Francis), and AT&T (TWC scholarship sponsor) for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Rothenstine. “UPIKE prepared me for this experience and it’s something I am grateful for. I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars has helped more than 50,000 students from around the world gain valuable experience and set them on a course of achievement, leadership, and engagement in their communities. The seminars educated the students on the inner workings of Washington, D.C., exposing them to different organizations, speakers, Senators/Congressmen, to help them formulate their beliefs and knowledge as they move forward in their career.


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