Former Freshman: Making the most of it

Let’s just say these rising sophomores aren’t short on resume-builders.

The four students highlighted below didn’t have typical freshman year experiences. From working in GW Hospital’s emergency room to helping manage the men’s basketball team, it’s an understatement to say that these students took advantage of their first year at GW.

James Betz

Concentration: pre-medicine

Rising sophomore James Betz wasn’t expecting to get a job at GW Hospital during his freshman year of college.

But Betz, who is working toward a pre-medicine concentration, isn’t a typical student. He joined the University’s student-run Emergency Medical Service, EMeRG, in the fall, and in February he was hired as an Emergency Department technician at GW Hospital.

“People in the GW undergrad community told me that it wasn’t possible to get (work with the hospital), that even some paramedics had put in applications and no one had gotten back to them,” Betz said. “Nobody at the hospital ever said ‘No, we won’t hire you,’ so I just kept going.”

As a technician at the hospital Betz runs IVs, takes blood, works with catheters, helps with splinting and casting and prepares patients rushed into the Emergency Room. He said he’s one of the youngest people working there.

“There was no GW student working in the ED when I came here, and every student I talked to said it was impossible,” he said. “It took some hard work and a lot of perseverance to get the job at the hospital, but it was very worthwhile.”

Betz, who is from Bedford, Mass., said his advice to incoming freshmen interested in studying medicine is to first, take the Emergency Medicine Training course GW offers each semester, join EMeRG and seek out new opportunities – like he did with the job at GW Hospital.

He said working with EMeRG was also one of the most rewarding experiences of this past year- and he may continue to help out with the service this summer while simultaneously working at the hospital.

“I really enjoy the ability to see and treat patients … it’s a gratifying experience to help people who need it,” he said. “I (can) be the leader on the scene. When EMeRG runs a call, the students on the scene assess and treat a patient by themselves.”

Ashley Mergen

Concentration: political science

Sophomore Ashley Mergen jumped right into the political scene as a freshman – and landed an internship at the White House.

Starting second semester, Mergen worked at the White House greetings office, where she read and wrote correspondence and took White House commentary from constituents.

From that experience Mergen was able to climb up the ladder and get a summer internship with the scheduler for U.S. Secretary of Treasury John W. Snow, who announced his resignation May 30 and is awaiting the confirmation of his replacement before stepping down.

Mergen, who started her job in May, said that working with Snow’s scheduler allows her to constantly greet well-known political figures, such as the chairman of the International Monetary Fund, as well as help schedule the secretary’s air travel and whom he meets with.

“I love it. It’s really interesting, and I get to help him plan out his trips too – for example, St. Petersburg, Russia – and meet a lot of interesting people,” she said.

Mergen, who came to GW from Frisco, Texas, said she found out about the internships because the GW College Republicans send out e-mails when there are political interning opportunities in D.C.

She suggested that incoming freshmen take advantage of campus life in order to get the most of the city life.

Daniel Bernstein

Concentration: pre-law

Sophomore Daniel Bernstein came to GW from Voorhees, N.J. wanting to study political science and sociology, focusing on criminal justice, to complement his aspirations to be a lawyer.

But throughout his freshman year he encountered a myriad of unexpected opportunities – including sitting on the D.C. Youth Court as a judge for local minors charged for small-scale crimes, and joining GW’s pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta.

Now Bernstein, 20, is spending this summer interning at the Public Defender’s Service of D.C. on a $6,000 Shapiro Fellowship from GW, working on issues such as criminal sentencing.

Bernstein advised incoming freshmen to venture outside GW’s campus.

He said, “Just explore your city. There is so much it has to offer to you.”

Jeff Alston

Concentration: business administration, sports, event and hospitality management

Sophomore Jeff Alston explored his future in business management his freshman year at a venue very close to GW: the men’s varsity basketball team.

Alston, from Silver Spring, Md., was able to land a unique job as a manager of the men’s basketball team – during their most successful season to date and when he was only a freshman – through some family-friend connections and because of his experience coaching basketball camps during high school.

“I know the head coach of Catholic University, and he knows my coach from high school,” Alston said. “Plus I was the assistant coach of my high school varsity team so they trusted my experience and knew me personally. That helped a lot.”

He said he is most fond of the traveling aspect of his managerial duties with the team.

“I met so many new and amazing people, at so many different places and colleges during away games,” he said. “I got to see the Division I basketball level, and I got to meet (ESPN personality) Dick Vitale. I was really excited about that.”

His suggestion to incoming freshmen looking to open up doors is simple – “Meet people, shake hands, go up and talk to people. They’ll listen,” he said. “People like hearing what you have to say, and if you have something interesting to say, they’ll listen.”

-Katie Rooney contributed to this report

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