Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Washington College Selects Kim Pittman '12 As First to Intern with U.S. Mission to NATO

CHESTERTOWN—An International Studies major from Bel Air, MD will be Washington College’s first NATO intern. Kimberly Pittman ’12, whose coursework has focused on peace and conflict studies, will spend eight weeks at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels in the summer of 2011.

NATO, a defense alliance created in 1949 as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, now includes 26 European countries, the United States and Canada. Washington College is one of only three schools in the nation to offer an internship with the U.S. Mission there. The student workers are given high levels of responsibility, from monitoring press wires to compiling research and writing briefs for the ambassador and other senior officials.

“It is an extraordinary opportunity to do valuable work in one of the most interesting places in the world,” says Washington College president Mitchell Reiss, who earned the rank of Ambassador while serving as Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process under President George W. Bush. “This internship offers exposure to military affairs, diplomacy, European politics, trans-Atlantic relations, and the stature of the U.S. in Europe.”

Pittman says she knew the minute she read the email notice of the internship that she wanted to apply. “Since my first days of map quizzes and current-events assignments, I have been enthralled by global politics and world affairs,” she says. At Bel Air High School a social studies teacher named Timothy Roth and his AP class in “Human Geography” further fueled her interest in foreign affairs. “Mr. Roth taught us so much about the world and motivated us to want to know more,” she says.

She selected Washington College specifically for its international studies program and, once on campus, delved right into the curriculum. She was especially motivated by Dr. Christine Wade’s classes “Introduction to World Politics,” “Theories of Peace and Conflict,” and “Comparative Peace Processes.”

“Peace is really difficult to achieve, but the fact that it's difficult shouldn't deter us,” she notes. “Dr. Wade takes a lot of interest in her students and gives us the sense that we are the future, that it's our job now."

Outside the classroom, Pittman joined the International Studies Council, a forum for discussing world issues through guest speakers, movie nights and theme dinners. She attended two Model United Nations Assemblies at McGill University in Montreal and two Security Council Simulations at Yale University. And last summer, thanks to a scholarship from the National Security Scholars Program, she interned for a defense contracting company in Columbia, MD and for the National Security Agency, where she worked with classified information.

Pitman plans to spend the spring semester studying political science at Rhodes University in South Africa. Then it’s off to Brussels. Besides her two trips to Canada for the Model U.N. sessions, it will be her first international travel.

“I am ecstatic about this opportunity,” says Pittman. “I feel that everything I’ve done in college so far has naturally fit into this internship. My parents are happy that I'm getting to live my dream," she adds. "I never thought I'd be able to do all of these things so soon in my college education."

Dr. Wade is confident that Pittman will represent Washington College well. “Kim’s an excellent student with unlimited potential. This is a tremendous opportunity for her, and I have every confidence that she will make the most of it.”

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