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Two students selected for Washington Program on National Security

Jenna Patterson is one of two UNG students selected for the Washington Program on Natural Security this summer.

University of North Georgia (UNG) senior Jenna Patterson will have a few accolades to highlight on her resume when she graduates at age 20 this fall.

Patterson won top honors at UNG's Annual Research Conference (ARC) for her paper "Europe: A shift away from multiculturalism," which addresses the impact of latest waves of migration in Europe. It was one of two papers she entered in the March 22 conference.

Patterson, who is pursuing a degree in international affairs with a concentration on Europe, will study abroad in Bulgaria in fall 2019 after a summer internship at the Belgian Consulate in Atlanta.

In addition, Patterson will attend the Washington Program on National Security (WaPoNS) from June 18 through July 1 in the nation's capital. She is one of two UNG students to make the cut of 20 students selected nationally for the prestigious program run by the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI).

The second UNG student preferred not to be named because of security concerns related to his chosen career field.

Possible speakers for the WaPoNS include current and former officials in the White House, intelligence community, the Pentagon, Congress, nongovernmental organizations, industry, academia, think tanks, and news organizations. Participants will also meet Army Brig. Gen. Michael R. Eastman, deputy director for operations at The Joint Staff.

A self-proclaimed "big nerd," Patterson is eager to learn more about the topics the WaPoNS will cover.

"That's really exciting for me because I don't have the opportunity to focus on the security side of domestic politics very often because I am an international affairs major," Patterson said.

Dr. Jon Miner, associate professor of political science, helped the two UNG students with their applications. He said they did a great job of demonstrating how the program could benefit them in their careers.

"The students will be able to gain firsthand knowledge and interact with people in the D.C. area that work in the fields that they study here at UNG," Miner said.

In addition to an essay on why they should be in the program, students had to write an essay on what they believed to be the current most important national security issue. Patterson chose the lack of unity in the United States, which she argued puts the country in a security dilemma with the image portrayed to the international community.

This year's participants are the second and third for UNG in the WaPoNS; Brianna Clay took part in summer 2018. Other schools sending students include Colgate, Loyola University (Maryland), Stony Brook University, Texas Tech and University of North Texas.

Dr. Raluca Viman-Miller, an assistant professor of comparative politics, international relations and European politics, has served as Patterson's adviser and mentor.

"She is dedicated. She is serious. She is hard-working. She is mature," Viman-Miller said. "She's definitely hitting it out of the ballpark."

Along with migration, Patterson is interested in political analysis. She is excited to learn more about a variety of topics as part of WaPoNS.

"For her, this will be a really good learning experience," Miner said. "It will give her a sampling of so many different ways she can apply her international affairs degree."

Patterson, who is from Blue Ridge, Georgia, is grateful that the WaPoNS is free and the Department of Political Science and International Affairs has offered to help with travel to Washington, the only part not covered by the program. Viman-Miller said the department is committed to offering such opportunities for its students.

"We support them. We encourage them. We mentor them," Viman-Miller said. "We work with them on absolutely anything that is necessary for them to be successful."

A UNG alumna is in the running to gain experience in the nation's capital, as well. Anita Renfroe, a 2017 graduate who majored in Arabic, was selected for a regional interview for the White House Fellowship, the first step in a three-stage process. Only about 15 Americans are chosen every year to serve as a White House Fellow.

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