Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seahawks Soaring on Capitol Hill

Students attend UNCW for a variety of reasons, whether it’s the academic programs, the location or the size of the institution. After graduation, many choose to travel to different parts of the world. Internship opportunities brought Jon Thompson ‘07, Kaitlin Helms ‘08, and Walter Zaykowski ‘07 into the political field. Jon, now a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, handles the radio and television duties, which includes working closely with Republican Congressmen and candidates to appear on national television and radio interviews. Kaitlin is currently the Executive Assistant to Congressman Mike McIntyre, where she has seen him through a full election cycle. Walter has the role of Investigator working for Senator Burr in his capacity as Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He conducts oversight duties over the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and advises the Senator on necessary actions with regards to the agency.

Whether it was the professors, the friends or even their studies, UNCW is what got these alumni to where they are today. Walter explains that “going to the school was the reason I was brought into Senator Burr’s office for an interview and preceding that, my friends and network from the university assisted me with moving to DC and defining a career path when I was first starting out.” Kaitlin shared that many of the theories and concepts she studied in college, are the same that she uses at work today. Jon feels that although he didn’t share the same political views with his professors, he learned that compromise and discussing the issues goes a lot farther than doing nothing. “Working in the political profession in Washington, DC now – what I learned in the halls of Leutze come in handy daily. In this tense political climate, I think more would benefit from similar teachings,” explains Jon.

Jon, Kaitlin and Walter are all excited for the UNCW Alumni Pregame Social coming up on November 29. This will be the first official alumni social in the DC metro area. Kaitlin explains that “A group of [alumni] have gotten together informally about once a month for a year now,” but she knows that “there are many Seahawks living in the DC metro area with whom we have yet to connect. This will be a great opportunity to get everyone together.” Jon shares that he is “looking forward to seeing the Seahawks make up for it this time around.”

As an alumnus now living in Washington, DC, having something familiar around provides comfort for these recent graduates. Walter knows many other alumni in the area, either neighbors or colleagues and even a Seahawk roommate. He explains that they get together “for drinks and to pine for the days of sitting on Wrightsville Beach without a care in the world. It’s nice to have a good representation of UNCW alumni involved in politics and to see a friendly face from our college days at UNCW.”

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