Two Griffith University students have been selected to complete internships with the United States (US) Congress.

Clare Anderson and Monique Salm will be among only 13 Australians from seven universities selected for the Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Program 2008 (UCWIP).

While in Washington DC the students will be assigned to individual Congressional offices for eight weeks, learning about the legislative process and US/Australian relations. They will be granted unique access to the US political system.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Dewar said it was a great coup for Griffith to have two students selected in this exceptional program, which would provide the students with valuable experience to compliment their studies.

Clare, who is studying a double degree in Law and Arts, will be placed with Representative John Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat.

A huge fan of the television series West Wing, Clare said she was looking forward to being able to observe the political process.

“I’m interested in working in policy development and advocacy so it will be fascinating to work inside a Congressional office and see how the Representative balances the many competing views ― from the party to advocacy groups ― and how these elements shape the Congressman’s views, and ultimately affect legislation,” Clare said.

“The experience will be fantastic, especially running up to a Presidential election.”

Monique, who is studying a Bachelor of Arts, will intern with Senator Chuck Hagel who is a Nebraskan Republican.

“The US Congress is one of the most important and powerful political institutions on the planet. To have the opportunity to get inside and observe how it functions is a great privilege,” Monique said.

“Australia’s alliance with the US is so important and having had the opportunity to understand how Congress works will also appeal to any internationally-focused employer.”

Through the internship the students will attend hearings and press conferences both on and off Capitol Hill, as well as be involved in constituent liaison and legislative research.

UCWIP has also organised US State Department briefings, access to political dinners, trips to Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, the origins of the American Republic in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Congress Hall and the National Constitution Centre.

Prior to UCWIP, Monique is also spending a semester at Seoul National University in South Korea through a Department of Education, Science and Training Scholarship.

Both Monique and Clare said they wanted to thank everyone who was involved in the program and Griffith University for the fantastic opportunity.