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Capital Scholars student profile: Alexis Wagner

November 03, 2015

Alexis Wagner is a senior participating in the 4+1 program — an accelerated bachelor's and master's program — at Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies. She is pursuing a bachelor's and master's in political science as well as certificates in Intentional Studies and Political Entrepreneurship.

Looking to add to her impressive academic resume, Alexis recently participated in the Capital Scholars Program, which provides students with the opportunity to work at an organization of interest in the nation's capital, including the White House, Congress, courts, government agencies, lobbying and consulting firms, advocacy groups, media outlets, and more. Wagner’s internship was with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury.

“Participating in Capital Scholars was a once in a lifetime opportunity that provided me with real experience working for the federal government as well as grow my professional network,” Wagner said. “Being thrown into the fast paced life of living in Washington D.C. and working for the government was the best way to learn about this field of work.”

“I was specifically working for OFAC's licensing department on the Iran team. In this position I was treated like an actual licensing officer, so I did case work regarding trade sanctions on Iran," she said. "I was assigned cases from my supervisor and then I made licensing determinations for those cases.”

The Capital Scholars Program gives students a chance to apply their knowledge hands-on.

“I faced a lot of challenging situations where the determination was not very clear or I did not understand something, but those challenges made me realize that it is important to fix your mistakes and move forward because no one is perfect," Wagner said. "The most important lesson I learned working for OFAC was that what we do matters. I may have just been making licensing determinations for civil cases; however, in the grand scheme of things I was combating terrorism.  Seeing how what I did actually made an impact and mattered to our country was a very rewarding experience.”

This program also gives students the opportunity to live in Washington DC for the summer.

“Living in Washington, D.C. for the summer never actually felt real,” Wagner said, as she reflected on her experiences. “I rode the metro to work, I stood outside the White House every morning (sometimes eating the best donuts I have ever eaten) before walking into the Treasury for work. I was greeted at the Treasury with the Secret Service every day, I ate lunch outside the White House when weather permitted, I had a badge that opened doors. The marble hallways of the Treasury made everyone feel like royalty. I got to eat dinner with very successful politicians and federal employees, I saw the president a few different times (including listen to him address the U.S. on Memorial Day), canoed the Potomac River, and I visited as many of the museums and landmarks that I could. All of these events may seem like not very much, but to me I felt like I was living a dream. I loved every second of living in Washington, D.C.”

By participating in the Capital Scholars Program, students can gain a sense of direction for the rest of their career.

“By completing this program I gained a much greater knowledge on what I need to do to get to where I want to be," Wagner said. " I was given great advice by mentors and strangers, I gained a stronger professional network, I grew my networking skills, and I gained hands on experience working for the federal government. I know that participating in this program will help me in the future as well."

"This was the best experience that I could have gained and I hope that those considering doing this program will choose to do so and have a great adventure and learning experience like I did.”

The 2016 Capital Scholars application is currently open and is due Nov. 10.  Students can go to the School of Politics and Global Studies webpage and contact Rebecca Lish via email at for more information.

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