By Sara Beth Marchert

The School of Public and International Affairs & the University of Georgia offer students an incredible opportunity to have a semester in Washington DC, interning in offices that appeal to our interests. Every student I’ve spoken to who has experienced the DC Semester program and stayed in the beautiful Delta Hall has loved it and walked away with lessons that were valuable for their future careers.

However, for many students, a semester away from our Athens campus is not in the cards, whether it is because of the hours we need for graduation or because of finances. Thankfully, this semester SPIA has offered us a way to get similar advice from someone with years of experience without leaving the Miller Learning Center.  This year, students were given the opportunity to take a political science course taught by Congressman John Barrow, the former U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 12th District.

I was one of the lucky students given said opportunity to take POLS 4615 this semester, Polarization of American Politics with Congressman Barrow. This semester has been incredibly enlightening, as I’ve been taught by someone who has firsthand faced the polarization in the House of Representatives. Thanks to Rep. Barrow’s teaching and the readings he has assigned, I’ve learned more about the history and inner-workings of Congress this semester than I ever thought I could by staying in Athens.

Having a former US Congressman as an instructor for a political science course is an opportunity that I never thought I would have. The University of Georgia and the School of Public and International Affairs has once again proved to me, and all of our students, that we are an institution with power and prowess, and our alumni have such loyalty to our school that they will continue to give back far past graduation. I have no doubt that one of my peers will be a member of Congress in the upcoming years and will give the next class of Bulldawgs a chance to learn from hands on experience like I have this year.