Carnegie Mellon University

Washington Semester Program Alumni: Where Are They Now?

Alumni of the Washington Semester Program share where they are now, and how the Program helped them get there.

Simran Jagtiani


CMU/WSP Semester: Fall 2016
Majors: International Relations and Politics, minors in Hispanic Studies and Gender Studies
Internship: Center for American Progress

Current Role: Distribution Operations Specialist for UnitedMasters

The good thing about Carnegie Mellon University’s Activities Board, Simran Jagtiani said, is that you don’t have to know anything to join. You just have to enjoy music, planning, and organization, and work well under pressure. The advisors teach you everything else. 

In Jagtiani’s case, her advisors, Elizabeth Koch and Meredith Hassenrik, nurtured her passion for music. They walked her through the process of negotiating and marking up contracts with bands and performers the AB had invited to campus. 

“Things like that, the faculty don’t have to go the extra mile but they do,” Jagtiani said. “Those were the moments that led to where I am.”

Jagtiani entered Carnegie Mellon intent on working in government and politics, and she graduated in 2018 with a degree in International Relations and Politics along with minors in Hispanic Studies and Gender Studies. During college, her desire for a career in the music industry turned from long shot to reality, and she is now a Distribution Operations Specialist for UnitedMasters, a record label and distribution company in New York City. Read more

Devin Gund


CMU/WSP Semester: Fall 2017
Major: International Relations and Politics, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Internship: US Securities and Exchange Commission

Current Role: Software engineer at Apple, intelligence officer, Air Force Reserve

In his quest to make an impact, Devin Gund has a knack for finding opportunities that shouldn’t exist.

As a freshman at Carnegie Mellon, he got an internship with Apple the old-fashioned way, talking with a recruiter at a career fair. He became, to his knowledge, the first student to double-major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and International Relations and Politics. He convinced an Air Force Reserve recruiter to give him a shot at becoming an intelligence officer, a challenging path for a civilian.

Gund, who graduated in 2018, is now a software engineer at Apple, working in their smart home division, and an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer. His experiences to date have given him a sense of purpose and resolve when times are tough.

“In the midst of this pandemic and unprecedented attacks on our institutions, through misinformation and now through physical attacks like the tragedy that occurred at the Capitol, I want to inspire others in my generation to become more involved and invested in our country rather than withdrawing,” Gund said. “Our obligations to ourselves as well as others demand sacrifice and commitment to the public good, and we all have unique skills to contribute.” Read more

Victor Tavarez


CMU/WSP Semester: Spring 2017
Major: International Relations and Politics
Internship: House Committee on Small Business; Office of Representative Nydia Velázquez (NY-7)

Current Role: Associate at FSG

"My semester at CMU/WSP was a transformative experience that helped me gain a better understanding of the sectors that govern our society. While working in Congress, I witnessed the day-to-day development of federal policy while interacting with advocates of causes ranging from environmentalism to marijuana decriminalization. Additionally, through my course work I received specialized attention from field experts and mentorship on how best to represent myself through my work. Lastly, living with and attending class with a set group of students working in different sectors in DC helped me learn from their work experiences as well.

"For anyone participating in the program, I would suggest building deep connections with your peers, instructors, and co-workers. They will become your friends and professional allies who will help you seek your success. I'd also recommend taking advantage of the showcase of expertise across the city. There are many free events and activities that you can attend to learn about topics from subject experts, it is a great way to expand your interests and feed your curiosity."

Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred


CMU/WSP Semester: Spring 2016
Majors: Creative Writing; Professional Writing; Ethics, History & Public Policy
Internship: Office of Representative Brendan Boyle (PA-13)

Current Role: Youth Ministry Assistant, Church of the Brethren

Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania is a small town about two hours east of Pittsburgh that, just like many similar small towns across Appalachia, lacks an abundance of legal counsel. Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred, a Hollidaysburg native and 2017 Carnegie Mellon alumnus who is currently in his second year in Yale Law School, plans to address the issue.

“It’s a town that doesn’t produce many people that go to a university like Carnegie Mellon, or certainly to the number one law school in the country,” Witkovsky-Eldred said. “To the extent that it produces anyone that does achieve that, those people almost never come back and serve their communities. They typically go to New York and DC and Los Angeles and San Francisco, those big legal markets that have high-paying jobs that have nothing to do with the people that formed me and supported me and raised me my entire life. I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of that.”

The combination of Carnegie Mellon’s reputation, the kindness of the people he met while visiting, and its emphasis on interdisciplinary study enticed Witkovsky-Eldred. That final part was of particular importance: He triple-majored in Creative Writing, Professional Writing, and Ethics, History, and Public Policy. Read more

Satvika Neti


CMU/WSP Semester: Fall 2014
Majors: International Relations and Politics; Policy and Management
Internship: Center for American Progress - Education Team

Current Role: Digital Social Justice Advocate at the Women and Girls Foundation

"Participating in the Washington Semester Program was one of the first times that I truly understood the full value of existing in the liminal spaces between fields, disciplines, and sectors. It helped me broaden my horizons of what was possible in the world and changed what I wanted to do with my life. It was such an impactful experience, both personally and professionally. I had so many experiences I never would have had without it, and know that I would be a completely different person if I hadn't done the program. I recommend it to everyone I meet now, and especially folks that aren't sure that DC or politics is for them - I'd argue that's exactly where we need you."

Max Goetschel


CMU/WSP Semester: Spring 2015
Major: International Relations and Politics; Policy and Management
Internship: US Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President

Current Role: Senior Associate, Data Science, Sony

"CMU/WSP equipped me with information about policy, politics, and the journalists that observe both. If you are interested in advocacy, policy research, or political writing, DC is a great place to learn how to do it. Because I spent my spring in DC, I was able to develop the expertise and connections that landed me my summer internship at the White House.

"Don't assume your degree determines your entire career. You can always reimagine and reinvent!"

Jahque Bryan-Gooden


CMU/WSP Semester: Spring 2015
Major: Decision Science
Internship: Center for American Progress - Education Team

Current Role: Research and Policy Analyst, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools

"I learned the importance of determining what I value in a career and workplace, and to this very day that has helped me determine which positions are right for me and which are not. I believe that my internship and connecting with the guest speakers solidified my career goals - to pursue a career in education policy. In fact, thanks to the Washington Semester Program I secured a summer internship with one of the guest speakers and was so certain of my interest in education policy that I pursued a masters in Education Policy after graduating from CMU.

"Anyone can get an internship but coupling a semester-long internship with coursework and networking opportunities is an experience that will teach you about work-life balance, professionalism, and politics. While at CMU the stereotype was that CMU students are in a bubble. The CMU/WSP is a chance to burst that bubble."