Georgia Tech Celebrates the Launch of GTDC in Washington, D.C.

Posted October 25, 2023

It’s rare that a student gets the opportunity to be in the room with a senator. But Georgia Tech’s first cohort of GTDC students were able to celebrate the Washington, D.C. launch of the program with three — Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and former Senator Sam Nunn.

Insight into the people and organizations who make decisions that impact the lives of all Americans is a key aspect of the GTDC: Pathways to Policy program. The inaugural GTDC semester and the 13 students pioneering the program were celebrated with an Oct. 24 event in Washington, D.C.

GTDC: Pathways to Policy, a partnership of the School of Public Policy and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, gives Georgia Tech students from any major the opportunity to spend an immersive, transformative semester in Washington, D.C. Students engage in courses, internships, research opportunities, and extracurricular activities, including with Georgia Tech alumni. The program educates and equips students for policy-related careers in government agencies, the private sector, and NGOs, where they can help solve national and global challenges.

The launch event brought together GTDC students with not only Senators Warnock, Ossoff, and Nunn, but also Georgia Tech leaders and a large group of Georgia Tech alumni who live and work in the D.C. area.

In his remarks, Warnock praised the Georgia Tech graduates and students who had worked for his office and said he looked forward to working with more.

“It has been my experience that it’s a good idea to hire Georgia Tech grads,” Sen. Warnock said. “They are indeed among the most conscientious and industrious individuals working on the Hill. And I’m thrilled that there will be more opportunities for Georgia Tech students to gain insight into what is happening in Washington D.C.”

Ossoff emphasized that Georgia Tech is well respected worldwide and plays a key role in research and innovation related to national security, energy, and healthcare and that its students and graduates have much to contribute.

“I think it’s crucial that young people and students have access to Congress and the Federal Government and understand how those collaborations work,” Ossoff said.

Former Senator and Georgia Tech Distinguished Professor Sam Nunn explained to the students that working and learning in D.C. would have a huge impact.  

“I was 23 years old when I first came to D.C. out of law school … and I can assure you, from my perspective, your year will be transformative indeed,” Nunn told the students. “It will enlighten you in terms of both the opportunities and the challenges of public service in a way that no textbook can really adequately explain.”

The event drew a sizable group of Georgia Tech alumni, and connecting alumni who live and work in D.C. with GTDC students is another key aspect of the GTDC program. In her remarks, Kaye Husbands Fealing, dean and Ivan Allen Jr. Chair of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, pointed out that D.C. alumni were eager to help students interested in exploring careers in public service.

“When I meet with alumni to talk about GTDC, here’s the response I typically get: ‘What do you need? How can we help? What can we do to embrace, and talk with, and lead, and guide, and mentor the students who are at Georgia Tech working at the intersection of STEM, policy, social science and more’ … That’s exactly why this room is packed this evening,” Husbands Fealing said.

Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera also addressed the crowd.

"Educating and supporting graduates with expertise in technology and policy is vital to solving global challenges," Cabrera said. “We are so excited about this program. We need to fill every member of Congress’ office, every committee, with people who understand technology, who understand science, and who can bring that knowledge to make better policy.”

Though the GTDC students have only been in D.C. since August, many are already reporting they have taken much from the experience.

"This program is extremely beneficial in so many ways! Not only does it provide an opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful place, but it also allows you to establish professional connections and mentorships, cultivate personal relationships with the other GTDC students, understand varying pathways to success, and learn concrete skills to take to future endeavors," said GTDC participant Parker Alderman.

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Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn speaks to students at the GTDC launch event in Washington on Oct. 25, 2023.

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Megan McRainey
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts