Dawgs on the Hill

A Home Base

At any given time, there are thousands of undergraduate students from across the U.S. interning in our nation’s capital. They work for federal agencies, congressional offices, think tanks, museums, and law firms, to name a few opportunities.

Many internships don’t pay, and unless students attend D.C.-area universities, they’re generally on their own to find a place to live in the high-rent area.

UGA’s Washington Semester Program creates a simpler path for students to intern in the District. UGA is one of the few non-D.C.-based universities offering housing for students. Delta Hall, a three-story residential and learning center, is a 10-minute walk from the Capitol Building. The Colonial-style brick building serves as a home base for students to live, study, and share their experiences with fellow UGA students.

Delta Hall, UGA's residential facility, sits in a cozy Capitol Hill neighborhood, giving students a comfortable and convenient location to begin their internship commutes.

And UGA’s dedicated Washington Semester Program helps students make the most of this opportunity by providing internship coaching, networking opportunities, and classes that challenge them to learn and grow from their experiences.


History on the Hill

Students spend a lot of time at Delta Hall, which has been the home base for UGA activity in Washington since 2015. But the university has had a presence in the capital for more than 25 years.

It’s only gotten stronger over time.

In 1997, UGA launched the Congressional Agricultural Fellowship program, which brings UGA students to Capitol Hill to serve as agricultural liaisons. In 2002, Jere W. Morehead JD ’80, then the director of the Honors Program, expanded UGA’s footprint with the Honors in Washington summer internship program, which DeMaria was hired to lead.

Over time, other UGA schools and colleges initiated their own programs, and in 2008, then-Vice President of Instruction Morehead made these opportunities available to all undergraduate students through the Washington Semester Program and put DeMaria in charge.

UGA established a home in a building called The Congressional, but it lacked the common area and modern classroom space to ensure students connected with each other and the learning experience.

With the limitations at The Congressional and rising housing costs in D.C., Morehead and Bill Young, the UGA Foundation chair at the time, agreed the university needed a new space.

A building a few blocks away was identified as a possible new home. The three-story, 20,000-square-foot building was once a church society and club. When Morehead and Young toured the facility, they saw a lot of promise.

Five UGA students (three female and two male) put their arms around each other and smile toward the camera. Behind them stands the U.S. Capitol.

The purchase and renovation of Delta Hall were funded by private gifts to the UGA Foundation; not a single state dollar was used on the facility.

Allison Ausband ABJ ’83,a senior vice president at Delta Air Lines and the current UGA Foundation chair, helped secure a $5 million grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation to support UGA in Washington. Delta Hall was named in honor of that gift.
















Interning in Washington

Since it is very different than just being a student, the Washington Semester Program staff aims to select students who’ve shown a strong work ethic.

“We want to be sure that every time someone interacts with a University of Georgia student, they’re impressed by them, that they feel like we are representing the best of all students across the country,” says Don DeMaria, director of the Washington Semester Program.

Twice a week, students meet for required courses taught in Delta Hall. One is a weekly seminar that brings guests to talk about their careers and answer students’ questions. Many speakers are UGA alumni, like Leigh Hildebrand JD ’00, the U.S. Senate’s senior assistant parliamentarian.

“There’s a reason why we have a seminar, and one of the biggest is to get the students all together once a week to talk about their experiences, share their success, meet someone who has had a career on Capitol Hill, and learn from that person and their experiences,” says DeMaria.

Building a Network

Over the years, the program has helped expand the university’s reach in the capital.

Today, a vast network of UGA alumni work in Washington. DeMaria estimates that at least 80 Bulldogs, many program alumni, are involved in activities each year at Delta Hall and beyond. Some come to share their career paths and experiences; others introduce students to people of interest.

At the center of all that activity is DeMaria, who has been a constant in UGA’s activities in Washington. Though not a UGA alumnus, DeMaria is a walking Rolodex of Georgia connections, and he’s not shy about introducing them to students with shared interests.

For some students, networking opportunities are nearly as important as their internship experiences.

Michael Shinholster AB ’23, who interned for Rep. Buddy Carter, likens networking in Washington to “drinking from a firehose.” He was constantly surprised by the extensive UGA connections in Washington.

Headshot of Michael Shinholster

“I had someone stop me when I was on my way to work because I was wearing a Georgia sweatshirt,” he says. “He gave me his business card and told me he was from the class of ’97.”

Shinholster has plenty of time to make other connections in Washington. He accepted a position in Carter’s office running the representative’s internship program.






Providing Opportunities

Several scholarship funds help students lower the costs of living in Washington for a semester.

They include:

  • Chambliss Fellowship
  • Coyle Scholarship
  • Morehead Scholarship
  • Pennell Scholarship
  • Russell Scholarship

In addition, the UGA Foundation provides each student in the program with a $500 scholarship.

Donate to supporting student scholarships to the Washington Semester Program at: give.uga.edu/wsp


The Spring 2023 cohort of the Washington Semester Program poses for a group photo outside Delta Hall. The three-story Colonial, a 10-minute walk to the Capitol Building, is the program's residential facility.


Written by Aaron Hale

Photos by Dorothy Kozlowski, UGA Marcomm

Video by Corey O’Quinn and Cade Massey, UGA Marcomm

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