STEM Student Discovers Opportunities at the Intersection of Science and Politics in D.C. 

Desktop News | May 2023

Maggie Koury on the Capitol Steps
Maggie Koury

When Maggie Koury signed up for the Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program, she wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As a STEM major, she was intrigued by research and development, but she wondered if there was a place for her in the political sphere of D.C. 

But as soon as Koury arrived in the nation’s capital, she was blown away by the wide range of opportunities available to her. The program itinerary included briefings from government and non-profit organizations, meetings with elected officials and their staff and interviews with professionals in STEM. 

Through these interviews, Koury had the chance to speak with alumni who worked for various federal agencies, including Dr. Shane Crawford, a Civil Engineer conducting research at FEMA, and William Bounds, an Electrical Engineer working in the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. This gave her a chance to explore the intersection of politics and science and realize that her passion for STEM had a place in D.C. 

“Speaking with these alumni about their research and roles at these agencies shows how their passions and specialized knowledge plays out into real and impactful work,” said Koury. “It also opened my eyes to the crossroads between politics and science, and there is a career for this passion of mine to thrive.” 

During her time in D.C., Koury also visited the National Institutes of Health and discussed their undergraduate research internship, something she hopes to participate in one day. 

What surprised Koury was discovering that her STEM background made her a competitive and unique applicant in the job market in D.C. Having a specialized and technical skill set could help her stand out in the political sphere, not just in traditional STEM roles. 

“At first glance, you would expect to see more traditional liberal arts majors within the political sphere; however, what I quickly came to realize is that coming from a STEM background and possessing a highly specialized and technical skill set makes students more competitive and unique applicants in the job market in D.C.,” said Koury. “So, no matter what your passion is, D.C. does not only have a place for it, but also has a demand.” 

Koury now aspires to leverage the valuable experiences and connections gained from the program to pursue her dream career. She envisions herself working in government relations with a chemistry background or conducting research in a lab and effectively communicating her findings to policymakers. 

For Koury, the Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program helped her overcome her initial uncertainty and find a place for her STEM background in Washington, D.C. Koury gained invaluable skills, connections and experiences that will undoubtedly help her achieve her career goals in the future. 

The Washington D.C. Professional Preparation Program is an initiative of the College of Arts and Sciences ICUE Connector. For more information, see