Hilltop on the Hill 2013

Eight students are in Washington, D.C., in October 2013 as part of SMU’s Hilltop on the Hill program. The students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies in Meadows School of the Arts and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility; Sandra Duhé, chair of communication studies, associate professor and director of the Meadows School’s public relations program; and Candy Crespo, assistant director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions, the presidential Inauguration and the G8 Economic Summit.

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Coming full circle

DSC_8647 - Version 3An update from Candy Crespo, assistant director of the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and an SMU alumna:

It’s morning in Washington, D.C. I take a deep breath in through my nose, pause, and exhale. “Do you smell that?” I say to one of our students. There’s something different about the air here. They smile in agreement. Anyone near our group, especially fellow metro travelers, must be able to sense the excitement and anxiousness. The students’ energy levels are soaring and their eyes are bright with anticipation.

This will be my third Hilltop on the Hill trip, and each time is more exciting and meaningful than the last. I went on the trip as an undergraduate when I wanted to find out what kind of communications jobs and career routes were out there. The next year, as a senior, I went as Dr. Rita Kirk’s teaching assistant so that I could experience the city one more time and make up my mind as to whether or not I was really going to make the move across the country. That trip sealed the deal. I caught the bug. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else after graduation, and so I went.

Candy Crespo with Dr. Rita Kirk and Dr. Sandra Duhe.

Candy Crespo with Dr. Rita Kirk and Dr. Sandra Duhe in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.

A year or two later when I was working in D.C. at the Glover Park Group, I hosted the Hilltop on the Hill group at my place of work, and also got to talk with students at the alumni roundtables and mixers. I’m still in touch with many of those students today, like my dear friend Roza. Now, I’m on the trip once again, but this time as one of their group leaders. I think that means I’ve officially come full circle.

This year, the schedule is stacked. This select group of eight communications students will be meeting SMU alumni and friends all over the city from the public and private sectors. We’ll go to CNN, Edelman, ExxonMobil, Glover Park Group, Dept of Health and Human Services, 21st Century Group, Senator John Cornyn’s office and the Center for Public Integrity. Did I mention the alumni mixers? This is not a trip for the faint of heart. This is a fast-paced, head-snapping, four-day, behind-the-scenes view of one of the greatest and most influential cities in the world. I can’t wait to see which of our students will catch “the bug” and decide that they, too, will go to work in Washington and that absolutely nothing else will do.

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