September 02, 2020

By By Rachael Blaine ’21

When his summer internship came to a grinding halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, John Sabella ’22 didn’t despair.

“I did not let [losing my internship] impede my progress. I adapted to my situation, using that time to find new opportunities and learn more about the career field I want to go into,” he said.

He returned to an email from Susquehanna’s Department of Political Science advertising the American Enterprise Institute’s Summer Honors Program. The institute “is a policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., founded on the ideals of a strong democracy, free enterprise and global American leadership,” Sabella explained.

After a long application and interview process, Sabella, a history and political science double major from Vineland, New Jersey, was chosen to be one of AEI’s scholars. He said the role of these scholars is to “challenge themselves to a competition of ideas in public policy debates, acting on the best recommendations regardless of political affiliation.”

As part of the program, Sabella took the class “Understanding the Middle East Challenge,” during which he discussed the history of and influences on the modern Middle East, such as the U.S. foreign policy and religious extremism. After this class, AEI held a virtual summit that focused on broader problems like COVID-19.

Although the program — originally intended as a weeklong networking event — was moved online to be entirely remote, Sabella said the knowledge he gained through the experience is invaluable to his future goals.

“I relished the opportunity to discuss politics, history and policy in the Middle East with other students and formulate potential solutions to longstanding issues,” Sabella said. “The program allowed me to explore a potential career area where I was able to learn more about my interests and define my plans for the future. Using this experience, I plan on applying for an internship with AEI or other policy think tanks in the future.”