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Political science degree takes SBU student all the way to Washington, D.C.

Claudia wearing Southwest Baptist University sweatshirt and standing outside U.S. capitol buildingMeet Claudia Nichols, a political science major from Hannibal, Mo. Claudia is spending the fall 2022 semester as an intern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., working for the Missouri House of Representatives.

Life on the Hill for Claudia includes giving tours of the Capitol, assisting with office tasks and errands, doing research for the legislative staff, and attending briefings on foreign affairs and financial services. "This has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Claudia said. "It is a huge honor to represent Southwest Baptist University in the capitol of America!"

Dr. Coyle Neal, associate professor of history and political science at SBU, helped connect Claudia with this internship opportunity knowing it would enhance her political science education. Claudia is so appreciative of her faculty support both in helping secure the internship and in staying connected with her during her time in D.C. "A lot of my professors have reached out to me and checked up on me while I’ve been here, which is amazing because it can be hard being so far away from home," Claudia said. "Having my faculty checking in and keeping those connections has been a game changer."

It’s that close-knit community that initially drew Claudia to attend SBU. She felt welcomed from the moment she stepped on campus for her first college tour as a prospective student. "I felt like I was already at home even though I hadn’t yet decided for sure on SBU," said Claudia.

Once she arrived on campus as a freshman, she found it easy to get involved in various opportunities that SBU offers. As an SBU student, Claudia has been involved with Run2Win tutoring, served as an SBU Ambassador, participated in the Spanish Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and attend various Zumba classes and student activities. Claudia also represents the SBU Bearcats as a member of the cross country and track teams. As Claudia said, "It’s just so neat to be able to get involved in so many things, even as a freshman!"

Throughout her time at SBU, Claudia has grown both personally and spiritually. She has learned to step outside of her comfort zone and explore different opportunities — all the way to spending a semester in D.C. as an intern on Capitol Hill!

"I love SBU because of the way they give their students a lot of different opportunities to expand their knowledge and education in a Christ-centered environment!"