Hilltop on the Hill (Fall 2017)

SMU students are traveling to Washington, D.C., with SMU’s Hilltop on the Hill program. The program is led by Rita Kirk, director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and professor of Communication Studies in Meadows School of the Arts; Stephanie Ann Martin, assistant professor of Communication Studies; and Candy Crespo, assistant director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and lecturer at the Center for Nonprofit Management. During the program, students meet with SMU alumni, talk with communication staffers on the Hill, learn from lobbyists about their advocacy functions, assess the role and function of the news media, and investigate the role of political parties as representatives for constituent concerns. 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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Memorable Meetings

 An update from Caroline C., a junior studying corporate communication and public affairs, concentrating on political communication, with minors in ethics, and law and legal reasoning.



Today in D.C. was a life changing and eye-opening experience. Our first meeting with Southwest Airlines made me realize how much importance that the private sector holds within Washington. Being so used to the political public sphere, I enjoyed seeing how the employees of a private company interacted with the political world.

Next we visited a huge law firm known as Wilmerhale. Kelly Dunbar, a partner at the firm, discussed his journey to his current position at the company. I enjoyed listening to his extensive discussion of the Texas Voter ID case, one that he worked closely with and took to trial. I also seriously took into account his opinions regarding trial vs. appellate law. I really appreciated listening to his experiences that inform his wisdom today.

After Wilmerhale, we traveled to the Global Strategy Group where we met John Cipriani, VP of Research, and his colleagues. I loved getting to experience first hand what communication strategy really is and what that means in application to clients’ goals and obstacles that they must overcome. All of the employees at the firm seemed very Type-A, and it was slightly intimidating for me to converse with them. Regardless, this was a great experience in learning how to conduct myself in an environment that I was completely unfamiliar with.

Finally, we met with Justin Sosne, a Senior Director at Bower Group Asia. I found it interesting that he became engaged with Global Women’s Issues as he worked under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for four years. It was also interesting to learn about the differences he could sense in foreign markets with the shift from President Obama to President Trump.

As a special treat at the end of the day, our whole group had the privilege of touring the National Woman’s Museum on a private tour. My favorite part was seeing Susan B. Anthony’s desk! The whole museum made me stop and think about the rights I have as a woman and the steps it took to achieve those rights for me. I never want to take my rights for granted, but instead I want to make the women who fought so hard for them proud.

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