Natalie Siede ’20 won the Dr. Christopher C. Joyner Memorial Award as a student participating in the Lutheran College Washington Semester Program (LCWS), where she interned for the Anti-Defamation League.
Siede received the surprise on the final Wednesday before her program ended. The award recognizes academic excellence in students that take part in the LCWS program.
“I was definitely surprised and really honored and humbled. I studied with some really brilliant people; everyone was so thoughtful and articulate and hardworking. It was a big deal to me to be recognized for going beyond the status quo when the status quo was already at such a high regard,” Siede said. “It was great and really memorable; it was an amazing capstone for my time there and I wish I could have shared it with my classmates because I think everyone was deserving of it.”
Political science professor and department chair Dr. Rebecca Moore noted this is a significant award showing Siede’s excellence as a student and intern.
“Receiving the prize, which honors the memory of Dr. Chris Joyner, former LCWS faculty member and professor of international law at Georgetown University, constitutes a significant academic accomplishment,” Moore said. “Ultimately, it also reflects Natalie’s hardworking nature, intellectual curiosity, and determination to go the extra mile in her academic pursuits, even while interning almost full time with a Washington, D.C.,-based NGO.”
The political science and communication studies double major with a history minor says that her interest in Concordia’s program with LCWS grew even before she enrolled as a student. Before she began her education at Concordia, Siede toured campus between her sophomore and junior year of high school.
“I was able to meet with Dr. Bath about programs after we talked about my potential interest in majors,” Siede said. “He told me all about students he had that were working on the Hill. It was something I was immediately interested in. The partnership with LCWS was kind of the cherry on top.”
Siede worked as an intern at the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. Established in 1913, ADL was originally formed to combat hate and anti-Semitism in the United States, with its mission to secure justice and fair treatment to all, but is now also considered a global leader in delivering anti-bias education and uncovering extremism.
In the LCWS program, students are matched up with a part-time internship and attend class in the evening. Spending 32 hours a week doing work for ADL, Siede worked as one of two spring legislative assistants for government relations and a community engagement team. While a lot of her work throughout the semester was research intensive at a state and federal level, she also completed more specialized projects.
“I worked on several long-term projects that included state hate crime reporting data in addition to the more emergent issue pieces, such as writing memos and press releases, and helping draft coalition letters,” Siede said.
Acquiring experience in D.C. solidified Siede’s hopes to work there someday.
“LCWS was a great trial run and confirmation that my plan to try and live and work in D.C. is something that I could see in my future,” she said. “Not only did the experience meet my expectations, but also expanded my views on how and where I fit into political conversations.”
Siede gained professional experience in D.C., but one of the most important aspects of the program for her was the friendships she made.
“The one thing I really hope will stay with me are the friendships I made while I was there,” she added. “My roommates, my classmates, everybody – we walked in and were kind of awkward strangers, and we were in our separate circles but left feeling like a huge family.”