be_ixf;ym_202310 d_03; ct_50

Evangel students jump start careers with Washington Studies Program

Published on May 18, 2016 by Paul K. Logsdon

Originally published in the Springfield News-Leader, Friday, May 13, 2016.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – “All roads lead to Washington,” said Dr. Jon Spence, discussing Evangel University’s annual Washington Studies Program, which is designed for students interested in careers in government and law.

Ten Evangel students traveled to the nation’s capitol this spring for an intensive two-week study trip. A variation of the Washington Studies Program began at Evangel in the spring of 1958.

The trip provides students the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Federal Government and do short-term internships with members of Congress and various governmental organizations.

“By exposing them to life on Capitol Hill, it helps students to determine if that is an environment in which they would want to work,” said Spence, director of leadership studies at Evangel.

This year, students toured the White House, the Pentagon, and other historical sites and museums on Capitol Hill. In addition, they had the opportunity to observe a Supreme Court session.

Their second week was spent in senatorial, congressional or other governmental internships, which entailed eye-opening opportunities for them to witness government in action.

Jacob Cantwell, a senior from Warrensburg, Mo., was able to sit in on a Homeland Security meeting with Arizona Senator John McCain.

“As a political communication major, I was fascinated to see first-hand how things work through committees,” said Cantwell. “We were able to observe the interworking of various government departments and leaders.”

Internships lead to jobs*

2016-03a White House
(L-to-R) Dr. Jon Spence, Kaitlyn Shepherd, Hunter Targosh, Joshua Cresse, Rebekah Houseknecht, Stephanie Steen-Martinez, MaKayla Trentham, Cody Christner, Hannah Beers, Jacob Cantwell and Amanda Peper. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Stephanie Steen-Martinez, a senior from St. Louis, worked her second week in Senator Roy Blunt’s office.

“The experience gave me an insiders’ look and confirmed that this is what I want to do,” she said. “I had the opportunity to sit in on Senate committee meetings with Attorney General Loretta Lynch as they were discussing the Apple-FBI situation. I was then tasked with writing a memo for Senator Blunt concerning the meetings.”

At the end of the week, Stephanie was offered a summer internship with the junior Senator from Missouri.

“I really didn’t want to come back from Washington,” she said. “I went from doing what I want to do for the rest of my life, to going to classes again on Monday morning. But then I realized that I am honing my skills here. What I am learning at Evangel is what I will need there.”

One of those skills is flexibility. In recent weeks, she was head-hunted to work for the gubernatorial campaign for John Brunner. “I was asked to stay in Springfield and work full-time for his campaign this summer,” she explained. “I said yes.”

At least two other Evangel students who participated in this year’s Washington Studies Program were tapped to work with Missouri candidates — recent graduates Hannah Beers and Jacob Cantwell are currently working for the Catherine Hanaway campaign.

“To have an up-front experience, working alongside people who are making an impact on the world, is invaluable,” Spence said. “Of course, it is not unusual for our students to be offered jobs in Washington upon graduation. The road often leads back.”

Over the years, EU grads have landed careers with the FBI, Secret Service, House and Senate staffs, and a variety of governmental departments and organizations.

For more information about the Washington Studies Program at Evangel University, contact Jon Spence at

Students who participated in 2016 Washington Studies Program:

  • Hannah Beers, senior double major in advertising public relations and government from Steelville, Mo.
  • Jacob Cantwell, senior political communication major from Warrensburg, Mo.
  • Cody Christner, senior computer science major from Naples, Fla.
  • Joshua Cresse, senior government major from West Valley City, Utah
  • Rebekah Houseknecht, senior public administration major from Elmira, N.Y.
  • Amanda Peper, junior elementary education major from Springfield, Mo.
  • Stephanie Steen-Martinez, senior political communication major from Cedar Hill, Mo.
  • Kaitlyn Shepherd, junior government history major from Rochester, Minn.
  • Hunter Targosh, senior social studies education major from Locke, N.Y.
  • MaKayla Trentham, junior exercise science major from Van Buren, Ariz.


* Following the publication of this story in the News-Leader, Dr. Jon Spence was contacted by others seeking to hire these Evangel University students.