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Hamilton Lugar D.C. Fellows program supports globally minded students

Student Success Jan 23, 2024

DC Fellows The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies has selected nine undergraduate and one graduate student for the inaugural Hamilton Lugar D.C. Fellows Program. In addition to scholarships, Fellows receive guidance and networking support to help them secure internships in Washington, D.C.

Hamilton Lugar Executive Associate Dean David Bosco says that connecting students with alumni in D.C. is a top priority.

“One of our goals with the program is to establish a cohort of students who can rely on each other, learn from each other, and be a support network for each other as they pursue professional internships in Washington,” said Bosco. “Connecting the D.C. Fellows with our large and growing base of Hamilton Lugar D.C. alumni will help them build an intellectual and professional community.”

2024 Hamilton Lugar D.C. Fellows Inaugural Class

Abdulmotaleb Alsaad
Madison Harrison
Sam Kirley
Afoma Muojekwu
Allison Potpora
Katherine Ruffner
Behzad Sabeti
Andrew Simpkiss
Aaron Toland
Benjamin Weber

The Fellows were selected for their strong academic backgrounds in various fields, including international affairs, political science, cybersecurity and global policy, and others.

“With their backgrounds in world languages and cultures, HLS students bring a unique skillset that D.C. employers are looking for,” said Bosco. “The international affairs dimension combined with language skills and cultural competency are what set our students apart.”

D.C. Fellow Abdulmotaleb Alsaad is a senior majoring in International Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. In addition to being a native speaker of Arabic, he has prior experience working at an embassy in D.C. and at NGOs in the U.S. and abroad. Abdulmotaleb Alsaad Abdulmotaleb Alsaad

“In D.C., I’m mainly interested in congressional internships or working with resettlement agencies,” said Alsaad. “I do also plan to run for the congress representing my community in South Bend, in Indiana’s second district.”

In the Fall 2023 semester, Alsaad interned for Generations for Peace in Amman, Jordan.

“Generations for Peace does youth programs with sport to help rebuild communities that have been through war,” he said. “I was the only English-speaking person at the NGO so I was able to do work internationally with Jordan-Nigeria, and Jordan-Kenya and some of their other branches.”

Previously, Alsaad interned with Exodus Refugee Immigration in Indiana, helping people resettle in Bloomington. This kind of work is especially meaningful to Alsaad, whose family settled in the U.S. from Syria.

“I was first born in Iraq and my family settled in Syria after the invasion in 2003, which shaped a lot of my childhood. I also went through the Syrian civil war in 2011, which shaped a lot of my identity,” he said. “One thing that really interested me in the Hamilton Lugar School was the in-depth classes that I’ve been able to take over the past three years, which allowed me to understand the conflict that I saw first-hand. The conflict molded my existence, in a way. So, it is interesting being able to understand what I was going through, in a political sense.”

Alsaad said that having Arabic language skills has helped him in his prior D.C. internship searches, especially after mastering political and economic Arabic vocabulary.

“The language part is really crucial because that is needed in most of the jobs we’re in,” he said. “Last summer I interned at the Embassy of Iraq in D.C. Having Arabic under my belt, I got an interview within a day, and was hired within a week for a transcribing and translating role.”

When he returns to D.C. this summer, Alsaad said he is most looking forward to the work itself, the D.C. way of life, and representing his community.

“It’s the lifestyle, the work, and the congressional stuff for me,” said Alsaad. “Also being able to have a lot of opportunities to meet people and connect with Muslims and Arabs in D.C.”

Katie Ruffner Katie RuffnerKatie Ruffner is another D.C. Fellow who is seeking congressional internships, bringing previous experience and Spanish language skills. She is a sophomore majoring in International Law and Institutions and Political Science.

“I’m looking to work for a senator or representative, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, or the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,” said Ruffner. “I’m also searching for positions within interest groups like the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute and other foreign policy institutes.”

In high school, Ruffner had an internship as part of a student advisory group to Michigan Rep. Ranjeev Puri.

“We advised him on issues important to high school students and we had the chance to plan events for him,” she said.

In addition to political science, Ruffner is interested in immigration and human rights law and is working toward a career at the intersection of these fields. She is currently gaining experience as a research assistant.

“I’m doing research right now with Political Science Professor Elizabeth Brannon focused on post-war politics, and how certain rebel groups are now influencing their countries’ governments,” she explained. “I’m doing research on Mozambique now and will be assigned to Colombia next.”

Ruffner said the D.C. Fellows program helped her to not worry about funding, so she could instead focus on finding an internship.

“The program has given me access to a lot of internships that I didn’t know were available,” she said. “Dean Bosco has been sending out a list of different committees and interest groups that have summer internships, so I’ve been able to just focus on applying for them.”

Ruffner is most looking forward to connecting with other students in D.C.

“I’m excited to be able to put what I’ve learned here at IU and apply it to real world experiences,” she said. “I’m excited to get there and meet all the other interns and like-minded people from different colleges and states and start to get real work.”

Hamilton Lugar Assistant Dean Isak Nti Asare says he looks forward to the D.C. Fellows landing their dream internships.

“Everything we do at this school revolves around student success and wellbeing,” said Asare. “Professionals in international affairs, whether in government, the private sector, or non-profit and research organizations, must adeptly navigate and collaborate in diverse, multinational environments, and with this program we are opening new pathways for students to thrive. We are grateful to the generous donors and the vision of our founding Dean, Ambassador Lee Feinstein, for spearheading this initiative.”

Applications for Hamilton Lugar D.C. Fellows are now being accepted for fall 2024 and spring 2025.


Hamilton Lugar School

Sarah DeWeese

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