Sequester, security and shutdown: Casey Jackson ’14 spends the semester in Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capitol has been looming large in recent headlines, but despite the recent partial government shutdown, Centre-in-Washington intern Casey Jackson ’14 is having a one-of-a-kind experience working for the Department of Homeland Security.
Jackson first heard about the Centre-in-Washington program after talking to the College Registrar, Tim Culhan.
“We were discussing how to structure a self-designed major in criminal justice when Mr. Culhan brought up the new D.C. program and strongly suggested it,” Jackson says. “I was instantly interested, because I’ve always had a pretty strong interest in entering a career in federal law enforcement. In my mind, what better place to live, work and study for a whole semester than the nation’s capitol?”
Jackson’s internship is with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy; he also works with the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), which advises the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Jackson’s primary task is to keep the HSAC updated at all times on the latest news and reports—a job that keeps him very busy.
“We have to search the news constantly, read debriefings from other sectors of homeland security and then inform the HSAC on current events and threats,” he explains. “I also listen in on conference calls discussing threat levels, current news and other classified but very interesting topics.”
Jackson’s internship immerses him completely in the hustle and bustle of policy-making and administration: in the span of a week, he attended a meeting on changing building codes to make stronger buildings; sat in on a cyber security seminar at George Washington University; and participated in an active shooter drill.
While the pace of life in D.C. can be overwhelming for some, Jackson thrives on the activity.
“My favorite part about the internship is how up-to-date I stay with national security information,” he says. “I also really enjoy getting to attend all the meetings, speeches and classes to increase my knowledge of national security and all that it involves.”
For many in D.C., business as usual came to a screeching halt on October 1, when the government shut down after failing to pass a budget for the year.
“My entire office has been furloughed,” Jackson says. “Leading up to the shutdown, the vibe around D.C. was that it was going to happen. Sequestration was also a big worry around my office in particular—we felt it with cuts in our funding for travel and meetings.”
Although most media coverage of the shutdown focuses on the government’s destructive political gridlock, Jackson witnessed firsthand how the city itself has come together to support the many furloughed government workers.
“Many restaurants offered free meals to those with government IDs, and bars offered happy hour deals for the same reason,” he says. “This was huge for those workers with families that won’t get a paycheck until the government reopens.”
Government shutdown aside, Jackson can already see the benefits of taking the internship.
“Working for the Department of Homeland Security has helped me better understand the federal system, as well as network with many different agencies,” he says.
Jackson also credits Centre’s rigorous academics for giving him a leg-up in D.C.
“We deal with a wide variety of people between our Advisory Council and our faith-based advisory council, and I think my liberal arts background has helped me be more well-rounded,” he explains. “Understanding different religions has helped me greatly when dealing with members of the faith-based committee.
“Myself, Tyler Sanderson [’14] and Zachary Turner [’15] have all been praised for our attention to detail and writing abilities,” he continues. “While we’re each working different internships, we’ve discussed what we’ve been doing, and all three of us feel we’ve been doing meaningful work that will benefit our organizations and be sent out to others.”
By Mariel Smith