Adventures Inside the Beltway

For many, the morning commute is a grueling grind–especially for those working in Washington, D.C. For Thomas Fowler ‘10, the trek through D.C. was a chance to schmooze with senators–especially during the rides between the Senate and the Capitol via the Capitol subway system. And okay, so maybe Fowler didn’t schmooze with Sen. Chuck Schumer, so much as sit next to him one day, but hey–that’s more than most of us can say.

Actually, Fowler has already accomplished a lot more than most of us can say. After interning with Sen. Richard Lugar ‘54, as part of Denison’s Lugar Program in Politics and Public Service, Fowler did a fellowship with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and the Congress (CSCP) during his senior year. The program entailed traveling to D.C. twice a year to talk contemporary and historical politics with 80 other students from across the country.

Today’s leading innovators and policy-makers were known to stop by the fellowship and network with its participants. Fowler met Google founder Vinton Cerf and he ate dinner with Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. No wonder sitting next to Sen. Schumer wasn’t really a big deal.

Of course, the fellowship wasn’t just about rubbing elbows. The CSCP also required a paper examining the political system from a historical angle. Fowler, a history major and political science minor, penned his essay while on campus as part of his senior research, but he developed many of his ideas during his time in D.C. He focused on the ways in which Wilson transformed the legacy of Manifest Destiny, as well as how it affected Wilson’s policy-making. “It was a really important, but often overlooked, ideological shift that has strongly affected American foreign policy,” he says. At the end of the year, the CSCP ranked Fowler’s essay as one of the top 20 in the program and published it in their quarterly journal.

Fowler is currently a first-year student at Boston University School of Law. Last year he was riding the subway with senators. Who knows? Maybe he’ll see that Senate chamber again some day.

Published November 2010