ASU student pursues interests with Washington, DC, internship

Vi Ho (right) with fellow Capital Scholars in Washington, D.C.


Choosing your major out of high school can be a daunting task, especially when a school like Arizona State University offers more than 350 undergraduate majors.

To help with the decision of which program to choose, Vi Ho pulled architecture out of a hat and declared it as her major.

Originally from Chandler, Arizona, Ho is now a junior at ASU pursuing concurrent degrees in architecture and political science. Adding political science her sophomore year was a more gradual decision. She had an interest in the topic and after a few classes saw she had enough credits to pursue it as another major.

“I decided to just add it on because my schedule allowed me to do so and I wanted to be able to study two things I was most interested in,” Ho said.

During her freshman year, Ho was walking to Associate Professor Richard Herrera’s political science class and saw a poster advertising the Capital Scholars program staked into the grass on the Tempe campus. In asking Herrera about the program during her class, she came to find out he was the faculty director of the program.

The Capital Scholars program with the School of Politics and Global Studies provides students with the opportunity to live and intern in Washington, D.C., over the summer while earning six upper division credits. The program, which is open to all majors, guides students in the process of applying to and interning at an organization of their interest.

After earning enough credits to become eligible, Ho went to Washington as a Capital Scholar this past summer.

“I had been to D.C. twice before, and I always really enjoyed the city,” Ho said. “When I saw there was an opportunity to intern and live there for three months, I decided that would be a great way to spend my summer.”

Once admitted to the program, the cohort of Capital Scholars would have monthly meetings during the spring semester before visiting Washington, D.C. Gisela Grant, senior internship coordinator with the School of Politics and Global Studies, works directly with the students on their resumes, cover letters and interview skills to prepare them for finding an internship in the nation’s capital.

Prior to leaving for the summer, Ho was awarded two scholarships specifically for the program: The Zachary J. Marco Capital Scholars Scholarship from the School of Politics and Global Studies and the Dean’s Investment Fund Capital Scholars Scholarship from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Ho shared that she would not have been able to participate in the program if she did not get those scholarship opportunities.

“I am eternally grateful,” Ho said. “It was an experience I wouldn’t have traded for anything.”

Ho interned at the National Endowment for the Arts in the Design Creative Placemaking Division as well as the Partnership Division. She  wrote blurbs for their monthly newsletter, put together briefing materials for a summit and helped prepare data for grant-making specialists.

Since she worked for a grant-making agency with the purpose of funding the arts, Ho would get to read up on all of the various design projects happening around the country. She had the opportunity to sit in on meetings and learn more about design principles and how to incorporate them into projects that would better a community.

“What I really appreciated was their focus on rural communities because design happens everywhere,” Ho said.

One of the perks of Washington, especially for someone studying architecture, is that the Smithsonian Museums are easily accessible. One of her assignments for her internship was to take photos of the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the agency’s newsletter. Ho had been there when the building opened in 2016 but now, after furthering her architecture education at ASU, she appreciated the beauty of the building in a new light.

“Everything is so monumental — almost out of this world,” Ho said. “It’s also a hub for these amazing architectural projects that are appreciated by everyone.”

Going to Washington, D.C., also helped a case study Ho is working on for her class in contemporary architecture, which focuses on the architect I. M. Pei’s design of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

“It was a building I had always seen on a screen and I was able actually to go and experience it, which was really amazing.”

The professional connections Ho made during her time in Washington illustrated what a career in the field might look like. She also cultivated friendships with people from all over the country, in addition to her fellow Capital Scholars, which Ho said offered a lot of personal growth.

Although she was a bit nervous at the start of her time as a Capital Scholar, Ho said ASU provided an array of advice and help to get students where they wanted to be. By the end of the summer Ho was asked to stay on for an extra two weeks with her internship.

“I’m very lucky that I got an internship that was such a perfect intersection for my two areas of study so I am very grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts.”

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