Students in a circle with one student wearing a blue shirt from CURA program
Category: Student Experience

Title: Pre-Orientation Programs Give Hoyas a Taste of Their Futures at Georgetown

As the Class of 2027 settles into Georgetown, a small contingent of Hoyas has been on campus for over a week after spending their first few days immersed in student programming.

Over the summer, Georgetown offers a variety of pre-orientation programs for first-year and transfer students to dig into their interests and to connect with their fellow Hoyas, from studying American politics and acquiring key skills for success in business school to exploring the outdoors in the greater Washington, DC, region.

Learn about the pre-orientation experiences of three students, which included running  a mock gubernatorial campaign, digging into social justice issues and getting an early start on college life.

Fusing Science and Social Justice in CURA

If you ask Martin Neisuler (C’27) what makes him tick, he’ll tell you it’s the sciences. And to prove it, he has a tattoo of a molecular model of a cancer drug on his left shoulder.

Headshot of Martin Neisuler with the U.S. Capitol in the background.
Martin Neisuler (C’27)

In middle school, when Neisuler started thinking more about what interested him, he ran across a little factoid that shifted his entire perspective on what he wanted to do with his life: a new drug that treats chronic myeloid leukemia with a 95% success rate. Amazed by the power of medicine and the endless possibilities of biology, Neisuler decided to go all in on science – and on his tattoo, too.

“It was such a change in my mindset that I decided from that point that I had to go into oncology and start learning and actually putting in effort and trying at school,” said Neisuler, who intends to major in biochemistry. “I got this tattoo to commemorate the chemical that got me to put my money where my mouth was.”

It’s no surprise then that when Neisuler learned of the CURA pre-orientation program, he jumped on board.

Organized by the School of Health and designed for Hoyas interested in pursuing a career in health care, CURA offers students a week filled with meeting health care workers, conversing with leaders in medicine and law and learning about social justice issues through direct service in local communities in DC.

A group of six people learning CPR
Students in CURA learn how to perform CPR.

In the mornings, Neisuler and the rest of the CURA participants engaged in career exploration workshops, ice breakers and mentoring sessions with health care professionals. During one session, two students in GERMS demonstrated how to perform CPR, an activity that made Neisuler appreciate being surrounded by people just as interested in health care as he is.

For most of the day, CURA students visited partner organizations in DC that work on social justice issues, including several shelters for disadvantaged women and Martha’s Table, where CURA students helped run the organization’s farmer’s market for needy households.

For Neisuler, the visits allowed him to immediately see opportunities beyond the Georgetown campus.

“The goal of CURA was to expose us right away to all of DC, the good, the bad, the ugly and whatever the city had to offer, and to see it and appreciate it for what it really is,” Neisuler said. 

But while science is what drives Neisuler, he also became fascinated by the connections CURA drew between science and social justice and politics. Growing up, moving from country to country with both parents serving as diplomats, Neisuler has always had a penchant for public policy.

“CURA is about fusing science with social justice and politics, and that’s something we don’t get to see very often,” he said. “In the science world, you usually just stick to the science world and don’t get to branch out to things like politics, and I love politics.”

Coming out of CURA, Neisuler said that he prized the intentional time the program carved out for students to get to know each other and appreciated how Hoyas come to Georgetown with a wide array of interests. Neisuler is looking forward to diving deeper into these interests with his new classmates.

“Here it seems like even the people who aren’t devoted to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), are still interested in STEM and the more science-focused parts of the CURA program,” Neisuler said. “It’s still so interdisciplinary, and that’s not something I’ve found at every school.”

All About Politics in Campaign Bootcamp

As an aspiring political professional, Victoria Allen (C’27) dreamed about one day going to Georgetown.

Headshot of Victoria Allen
Victoria Allen (C’27)

“Whenever you look up the best schools for political science and government, Georgetown is always at the top of the list.” Allen said. “When I opened up my acceptance letter in December, I knew I was definitely going to Georgetown. There was no doubt about that.”

When Allen explored the pre-orientation programs offered to incoming students, the Campaign Bootcamp immediately caught her attention.

Hosted by Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics), Campaign Bootcamp offers students the chance to step into the shoes of political operatives. Over the course of a week, students engage with campaign professionals across the political spectrum and learn what it takes to thrive on the campaign trail. The bootcamp culminates with a simulation of a real-life campaign in which students formulate a campaign strategy for their assigned candidate.

This year, Allen and her classmates ran campaigns for the two leading candidates in the race for the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion: incumbent Democratic Governor Andy Beshear and Republican State Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

Back of a woman's head facing a room with people looking at a screen.
During Campaign Bootcamp, Allen and her classmates met with pollsters, political consultants and other campaign veterans as they developed campaign strategies for Kentucky’s gubernatorial race.

To get up to speed on the election, students met with experts on the governor’s race, from political consultants to digital media campaign specialists, pollsters and others. They devised mock schedules for their respective candidates to hit the campaign trail and garner votes.

Taking on the role of a campaign manager for Beshear, Allen and her teammates scheduled the governor to make his rounds at the football team’s season home opener at the University of Kentucky, followed by a pit stop at a Labor Day barbeque to chat up prospective voters.

Allen’s team also developed campaign materials in support of the governor, creating a mock poster and a television commercial to the tune of an acoustic guitar with a country twang highlighting the governor’s efforts to advance education and quality jobs in the Bluegrass State.  

“It’s definitely different from anything I’ve done in the past,” Allen said. “It’s totally fun because I’m not doing it by myself. It’s a lot of work, but it’s great to have teammates who are working with me and are doing this for the first time too. We just started bouncing ideas off each other and have been able to work together and get the task done.”

Coming out of the bootcamp, Allen says that the experience opened her eyes to all the different career paths in the field of politics. As she prepares to start her first semester on the Hilltop, she’s excited to stay involved with GU Politics by engaging with the institute’s fellows and taking advantage of the myriad of political internship opportunities in DC.

Gearing Up for College Life Through CSP

Darius Wagner in front of Healy Hall
Darius Wagner (C’27)

When Darius Wagner (C’27) first visited campus as an admitted student during Hoya Saxa Weekend, he discovered the Community Scholars Program (CSP), a program through the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access that provides support for first-generation college students throughout their four years. He wanted to be a part of CSP’s academic bridge program after hearing how the program empowers students in their professional, academic and social lives as they head into their first year at Georgetown. After learning he was accepted into CSP, the opportunity to arrive on the Hilltop weeks before his classmates in the summer was too good to pass up.

“I knew I wanted to be surrounded by students from many diverse backgrounds and looked forward to building on a lot of our shared experiences and creating a close-knit community to support each other when we go into the fall semester,” Wagner said.

First established over 50 years ago, CSP offers first-generation college students of all backgrounds a five-week academic bridge program during the summer designed to help students transition to college.

Throughout the summer, CSP students participate in two classes during the week, a mandatory writing seminar and a course that they can choose based on their interests — for Wagner, he chose a course on U.S. political systems.

In the afternoons and evenings, community advisors — current students, most of whom are also in CSP — lead workshops and mentoring sessions that help students explore topics ranging from cultivating effective study skills, to taking care of one’s mental health and developing strong relationships in college.

But it’s not all summer classes. 

During the program, Darius and his fellow CSP peers have gone kayaking, screamed at Six Flags, driven go-karts and cheered on the Washington Mystics basketball team.

For Wagner, who has been passionate about politics ever since he was 12 years old, a major highlight of the summer was seeing Vice President Kamala Harris speak on the importance of investing in minority-owned small businesses.

“That experience alone is something that I’ve cherished,” Wagner said. “Being able to see the vice president speak about a lot of the things I’m passionate about and get that hands-on experience of politics.”

In spite of all the adventures into DC this summer, Wagner will most cherish the small moments he’s shared with other students in CSP and building his own community and support network at Georgetown.

“I think the time we spent building a community together were a lot of the moments where I just thought to myself, ‘I can see myself here,’” Wagner said. “Even when it gets difficult with work, I can see that there is also a community that can help continue to lift each other up, have great experiences and build off of each other professionally and academically.”