Sean is Washington-bound to work in America’s corridors of power

Sean Kennedy with Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he received an All-Ireland Scholarship in 2011. It was at the scholarship ceremony that Sean first learned about the Washington-Ireland Programme.
Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

A 19 year-old college student from Powerstown, Clonmel has earned a coveted internship working in Washington DC’s corridors of power.

Sean Kennedy, who is studying pharmacy at the Royal College of Surgeons, is one of just 30 students from throughout the island of Ireland chosen to intern with a US congressman, senator or non-profit organisation in the US capital this summer after he completes his college exams.

He has been awarded the two-month long internship by the prestigious Washington-Ireland Programme, a cross-community charity that offers young leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland the opportunity to live and work in Washington DC while completing leadership training and public service projects.

A total of 525 third level students from all over Ireland and Great Britain applied for the few places on the programme. Sean is one of 15 Republic of Ireland students to be awarded the internships.

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Leo Varadker and the leading Middle East human rights expert, the late Diane Halley from Clogheen, who passed away in March, were both graduates of the Washington-Ireland Programme.

Sean, who is son of Robert and Stephanie Kennedy, said he first heard about the Washington-Ireland Programme while attending a ceremony in the University of Limerick in 2011 to receive an All-Ireland Scholarship for his third level education.

“The main point of the programme is that they don’t take on people because they are the finished product, they take them on to train them. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn as much as I can over there,” said the past pupil of Clonmel’s High School.

He applied for the programme last autumn and was called for interview in February. He learned of his selection for the internship programme shortly afterwards and completed an induction weekend a few weeks ago.

Sean said he wanted to publicise the Washington-Ireland Programme through The Nationalist to let other college students know about it and to highlight that it’s not just for students of law or politics, and it’s not confined to students from Northern Ireland.

“A lot of people are put off from applying for the Programme because they don’t think they are doing the right course or that its for people from Northern Ireland and Dublin. They (the Washington Ireland Programme) want to make it clear the programme is for everyone. They just want to get the best candidates.”

Sean will find out this month what organisation or politician’s office he will be assigned to as an intern. He will travel to Washington on June 8 after completing his exams at the Royal College of Surgeons and return on August 4.

He will stay with a host family in Washington during his two-month stay. He told The Nationalist he is really looking forward to the experience of meeting so many new people and getting to know America.

Sean’s proud mother Stephanie said she was delighted for her son and hoped the opportunity he is getting through the Washington-Ireland Programme will help his career prospects at home in Ireland.

“The kids nowadays have to emigrate. Hopefully this opportunity will give Sean a helping hand so he won’t have to emigrate,” she said.

To find out more about the Washington-Ireland Programme check out the website: www.wiprogram.org.