#PrepareAtPeace | WPU Student, Deja Gainey, Interns at U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC

Jan 10, 2019

Deja Gainey ’20 made her Washington, DC debut last semester through an internship at the U.S. Department of State. She and her team worked behind the scenes of the State Department and in close contact with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. 

By the time Deja Gainey was a junior in high school she had already decided that she wanted to work for the U.S. Department of State. So she began to research the education and career paths she would need to take to get there. Gainey found and applied for internships in state and local government and even non-profit organizations–anything to build her resume for her dream job at the State Department. This eventually led her to study Political Science at WPU where she finally had the chance to apply for an internship program offered to college juniors and seniors with the U.S. Department of State.

“Ever since I was a student in high school I knew that I wanted to eventually obtain a career with the U.S. Department of State.”

Deja Gainey, WPU Student

WPU Student, Deja Gainey, on her first day at the U.S. Department of State.

Deja’s interview process and rigorous background check spanned the course of a few months, but finally in August she earned her security clearance and was ready to ship up to Washington, DC for her first day in the Harry S. Truman Building.

“Ever since I was a student in high school I knew that I wanted to eventually obtain a career with the U.S. Department of State,” Gainey said. “And I started doing internships related to state and local government and non-profits that cooperated with state and local governments.”

Gainey earned a position within the particular bureau of the State Department that works directly with Congress. Her office served to support congressional members and staffers with passports and documentation to travel abroad. As part of her job, she was often recruited by senior advisers on her team to go to Capitol Hill to attend Senate and House hearings and take notes on the outcomes. She once spent an entire workweek attending Senate and House hearings.

One of the main roles of her internship was to research members of Congress and to find their stances on particular foreign policies and how those policies could affect the State Department. Gainey explained that though her assignments would vary from day to day, every morning she got to attend State Department press briefings where international affairs are shared and discussed with the press.

“It was really an honor to just work alongside people who are doing this on a daily basis and work with diplomats,” Gainey said. “I’ve always wondered what it was like to have a career there [U.S. Department of State].”

“Her work ethic, intellect, drive to succeed, and professionalism are each unparalleled.”

Elizabeth Kusko, DA, Assistant Professor at William Peace University

Gainey’s internship may have ended, but what she learned from it will always be with her. She states that through her internship and the immersive learning opportunities at William Peace University, she was able to bring a lot back to her classes. As a Political Science major and a Global Studies minor, Deja believes her firsthand experience within a government entity has brought a new perspective to her courses at WPU. She’s excited to pursue her dream career at the State Department once she graduates, a goal that Assistant Professor, Dr. Elizabeth Kusko believes is extremely likely.

“Deja is one of the most amazingly talented students I have ever met,” Dr. Kusko said. “Her work ethic, intellect, drive to succeed, and professionalism are each unparalleled. We are so proud of her accomplishments and can’t wait to see just how bright her future is.”

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