How Washington works

Students get an expert-led tour of the nation's security hub

April 01, 2014 | Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer

S.C. Congressman Mark Sanford ’83 talks with students outside the Capitol
S.C. Congressman Mark Sanford ’83 talks with students outside the Capitol
S.C. Congressman Mark Sanford ’83 talks with students outside the Capitol

Sixteen Furman political science majors and Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets got a unique view of the inner workings of Washington, D.C., during a recent trip hosted by former Furman ROTC instructor and retired Army Colonel Mike Pasquarett and his wife, Pat McEvoy.

While in Washington, Furman students and cadets from North Greenville University visited the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They toured the National Military Command Center and had briefings and teleconferences from several Furman graduates, including Major Generals Richard Longo ’80, James Pasquarette ’83, Senior Executive Service Army Civilian J.C. Abney ’80, and Army Civilian David Ellis ’79.

The program, now in its second year, was funded with generous support from Pasquarett and Furman alumnus Bill Mayville ’76.

“We want students to have a better understanding of what goes on in Washington,” said Pasquarett, who developed the idea for the program with Mayville, one of his former ROTC students.

“How Washington Works” was borrowed from a course Pasquarett taught at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., to Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels, explaining how national security strategy is developed and how Pentagon leaders turn the strategy into international military cooperation and engagements. “The overwhelming response from these senior leaders was, ‘I wish I learned this earlier in my career,’ ” Pasquarett said.

He didn’t want Furman cadets to have to wait.

Pasquarett, an assistant professor of military science in Furman’s ROTC program from 1975 to 1978, drew from his more than three decades of experiences in the U.S. military and his 12 years of service as a teacher at the Army War College to teach the program.

During the trip, students accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Tom Gilleran and political science professor Danielle Vinson, Ph.D., were able to experience the system up close and personal. In addition to visiting tourist sites and historic monuments, students were able to spend time with S.C. Congressman Mark Sanford ’83, and Florida Congressman Ted Deutch.

For Joseph Kennedy ’15, a political science and French major, the highlight of the trip was the time they spent learning directly from Army personnel at the Pentagon.

“Hearing their expectations for a rapidly changing global stage over the next two decades was fascinating, and it encouraged me to continue studying foreign policy and international affairs,” he said.

The experiences they were able to enjoy in a short time were “incredible,” said Chris Salemme ’14, a cadet and political science major.

“Learning about the immense amount of opportunities available to us as future officers was especially valuable,” said Salemme.

After being commissioned as a second lieutenant in May, Salemme plans to pursue an Army Congressional Fellowship later in his career. He learned about the fellowship program for the first time in Washington.

Participating Furman and North Greenville University students included Jon Alsip, Brian Boda, Matt Clemens, John Doerfler, Eric Dolan, Chelsea Hancock, Josh Hall, Joseph Kennedy, Nick Robertson, Chris Salemme, Kacie Schoen, Paul Scott, Rene Travis, Olivier Van Pelt, Raven Wamer and Logan Whitlock.