GSPM Graduates Spotlight Webinar with Cassie Gabelt and Travis Foley

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We have invited alums of GW’s Master’s in Political Management online program to speak with prospective students about their experience with GW from the perspective of professionals and service members.  Cassie Gable is a U.S. Navy Veteran. Travis Foley is a Special Forces Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army.


Kira:                  Hi everyone, the time is now 3 pm Eastern; thanks for attending the George Washington University’s Webinar. We are very happy that you’ve joined us today, in conversation with Cassie Gabelt and Travis Foley, who are Alumni of GW’s Masters in Political Management Online Program. Cassie a US Navy Veteran and you’ll learn later on that she’s also running for Office. Travis is a Special Forces Warrant Officer in the US Army. We’ve invited Cassie and Travis here to share with us their insights as GW Graduates, as some of you will be interested in hearing from their perspectives as service members of the Military.

Before I introduce you to our presenters, let’s go over some housekeeping items. As the webinar is being recorded for later viewing, your lines are currently muted. Please feel free to forward any questions you may have for our panellists or about the program by activating the Q&A window, it’s the purple icon on your menu. You’ll have an opportunity to go through them during the Q&A segment, but you can always forward your questions at any time during the presentation. Other functions to note on your menu are the Resources icon in green. Next to that is the icon to book a telephone appointment with a member of the Admission’s team, or our Enrollment Advisor, Gillian. And finally, the speak profile speaker icon to view your speakers’ [files 00:04:02].

And for today, so first I’ll introduce you to our Graduates, then we’ll have a nice conversation with Travis and Cassie, where they’ll share with you their GW experience and also talk about their motivations and goals on why they have chosen to pursue their studies with GW and what the overall experience has been like for them. Then we’ll go into the program’s overview, where we’ll invite Gillian to also talk about the Admissions requirements, and finally we’ll be taking up your questions during the Q&A segment.

So now let’s meet our presenters. I’d like you to first meet Cassie Gabelt. She is a mother, a proud Navy Veteran, a recent Graduate and a life-long resident of Alliance, Ohio. Cassie enlisted in the US Navy in 2008; during her time with the Navy she served as a liaison between various government contractors, spearheaded a [quality-assurance 00:05:00] program, developed a departmental Limited Duty Status program, and drafted correspondence between her unit and more senior units within Washington DC. These and other aspects of her position introduced her to the inner working and nuances of Government.

Following her discharge, she completed her undergraduate degree in French and continued with her Graduate studies where she earned her Master’s Degree in Political Management through the George Washington University. Her Military experience and graduate studies, teaching Government at a local college and recent litigation work with [troubled 00:05:33] youth have all steered her to realising her true passion which is public service. As a mother who recognises the value of having affordable healthcare and quality education for her son and future generations, [and that 00:05:47] decision made [our elected officials 00:05:48] official, impacted every aspect of our lives, she’s inspired to run for State Representative for the 50th District in the Ohio General Assembly.

We’re also thrilled to introduce our next panellist, Travis Foley. He currently serves as a Special Forces Warrant Officer in the US Army. He is a member of the 10th Special Forces Group, Airborne, at Fort Carson, Colorado. His current position is the Group Dive Officer, for which he is responsible for all waterborne maritime and diving operations that are conducted through and by his unit. Before entering the Military, Travis graduated from the University of Michigan in 2005, with a degree in Political Science. His undergraduate education in [consult/constant 00:06:33] with his most recent education through George Washington University, has tremendously aided him in his work through the Military.

His primary area of responsibility relative to deployment has been Eastern Europe, with the increase in Russian Military Activities specific to Ukraine since 2014. Despite Eastern Europe being his primary focus, it is not a combat zone similar to that of Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan. As a result, work must be done in [consult 00:07:01] with the Department of State, developing and sustaining knowledge of foreign government departments to include Ministries of Defence and Interiors throughout State actors, such as Ukraine and the Baltics, is vital for the intelligence framework and operational outlook.

Welcome to both of our guests, and now I’d like to invite Cassie to share with us a few words.

Cassie Gabelt:   Hi, so my name is Cassie Gabelt and as was mentioned, I’m a Navy Veteran. I used my GI bill through the Yellow Ribbon program to finish up my Master’s. I also used it to finish up my Bachelors – I have about 14 days left if I feel like getting a PhD, but I’m going to slow down here for a minute.

So I have some of these pictures up here that you can see right now; I’ve got my Navy symbol – that’s what started all of this. Currently I work for Coleman Professional Services as a mediator and I focus on at-risk children, those with chronic absenteeism issues, truancy, behavioural issues. I’ve even done vandalism and assault cases, and that – I’m kind of the last line of defence before people end up in court. I am transitioning next Monday into another role, I’ll be starting with Alexander Mann Solutions and I will be a Senior Recruitment Coordinator on the Rolls Royce account – I am excited to start this next week.

In the meantime, every Thursday, I’m an Adjunct Professor at Aultman College, where I teach [Government 00:08:38], and the thing that made me qualified to teach this subject in a collegiate setting, was this Master’s degree. I’ve also gone through training at the Supreme Court of Ohio for Mediation Services, to learn about that. I am an Officer and on the Board of Directors for Alliance Elks Lodge Number 467, it’s a fraternal organisation, I write grants and help run the day-to-day business of that.

Just a little side note, I am an IBM-certified analyst which did help me out a lot in Grad school. And last but not least, I am also, as was mentioned, a candidate for the 50th District for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Kira:                  Thanks so much Cassie. Perfect, and now Travis, I’d like to invite you to share a few words.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, no problem. Hello to everyone. Yes, so I actually am still currently in the Military. I’m about eight and a half years at 10th Special Forces Group, after the training I conducted. So when I graduated from the University of Michigan, about four months later I came in on this program, it was called the [unintelligible 00:09:57] program where you could try out for Special Forces immediately after graduating Static Line Airborne School. Luckily I passed and I made it through the qualification course for three years and then I made my way to 10th Group. Most of my deployments, outside of the Middle East, have included Western and North-West – Western and Northern Africa and then Eastern Europe as of late, based on some of the Russian Military activity, for obvious reasons.

Yeah, so I started off as a Medical Sergeant, then I went to the Intelligence Sergeant’s course and I got to serve as kind of a dual role, and then eventually made my way to becoming a Warrant Officer after going through that course. So I typically serve as an assistant to the [Detachment 00:10:45] Commander on a team that deploys; currently I’m going through physical rehabilitation, so I’m managing all the dive operations and running logistics and procurement type stuff for that as of right now.

But primarily on an operational team, I deal with all the planning and training, and then kind of the macro-level perspective of what we’re trying to accomplish, and then serving as like a liaison element with any State Department officials or foreign officials that I have to deal with and are specific to the Military. And then with that, you know that is [all in concert with 00:11:20] or in conjunction with Intel collection type stuff and essentially building those frameworks in other countries.

So outside of all the fun and cool stuff, so these are just a couple of pictures, they are actually like me (laughs) – so they’re not just stock photos, so I thought I’d throw those in there. But yeah, outside of what you guys see and stuff, and like the pictures – those are the things I typically deal with.

Yeah, so I applied to GW and I got put on the wait list – I didn’t really have time to take a GRE, and then I just fortunately got a phone call about three years ago, would you still be interested in the program, and I was like yeah, of course. And it completely just turned around; I had to provide a packet of written work in a pretty timely manner, and then fortunately I was accepted and then I got to go on the journey for the two years and then completed that education. Yeah, I’ll just add, one of my concerns always, especially after going to undergrad, was online education. In the Military, especially when you’re still in, the whole for-profit type education is constantly driven down, whether that’s propaganda or truth or anything of such, but I was always sceptical in regards to that but GW definitely dispelled all of that. Just based on the Professors and the students I was participating with, it was more than a favourable experience. So I’ll leave it at that.

Kira:                  Thanks Travis. Yeah, go ahead Cassie.

Cassie Gabelt:   I was going to say we could back up and I can go over what GW kind of did for me.

Kira:                  Absolutely.

Cassie Gabelt:   So [GSTM 00:13:06] has had a huge impact on my life, and this is – I just graduated less than a year ago; since then I’ve landed two jobs and I’m running for Office. So I have a fair, you know my Military experience of Graduate Studies, recently mediation work, have all steered me to realise my true passion which is public service. And what I realised after I looked back on my time at George Washington, I realised that it gave me the tools to do what I’m doing. It made me feel more confident in that, but it also gave me the courage to pull a petition and put my name down and say I’m running for this.

Some of my Professors, as Travis was saying, you know I was originally sceptical about online education, but the quality of the teaching staff is just absolutely phenomenal, and without them and without too specifically pushing me, I probably wouldn’t have my name on the ballot this cycle. And this is supposed to be the Year of the Woman, so I would not be here today if it were not for them.

Kira:                  That’s so inspiring Cassie. And Travis we’ll go back to you as well; I’m just curious to hear like what inspired you to pursue your career that you have, you know Cassie being from the Navy and the Travis being from the Army, what inspired you, and then also how did that lead into your pursuing the GW Master’s in Political Management program? How did that path work out for you?

Cassie Gabelt:   Travis, do you want to go first?

Travis Foley:     Cass, you want me to go first, oh okay, yeah. (Laughter) Yeah, so I’ll be blunt, 9/11 kind of changed everything for me – that occurred four days into my undergrad and I almost dropped out then, and then I actually kind of talked with my dad, who is a retired Navy Senior Enlisted, and he was like there’ll always be wars, even though that was a little different – you know that was our most significant domestic attack in history, even outside of Pearl Harbour.

So that was kind of always in the back of my mind, even when I graduated. I really didn’t like apply for anything, I wasn’t looking for another job. And then definitely, like when you get older, you just try to better yourself and I knew even having a Graduate level degree at my place would set me ahead of my peers significantly just on paper from that alone. And I know that’s kind of like a selfish perspective, but nonetheless I guess I was always trying to strive for quality education, I kind of hit on the fact that for-profit schooling. And I knew about George Washington and I just never – I didn’t really have time to take a GRE and I had no clue if my background would be even applicable for the kind of thing that GW offered.

And I was just – it was one of the more fortunate kinds of options, or things I came across in my life is that opportunity to go to the School, you know high quality school that you can read online that is rated in several categories up there with some of the most prestigious educational institutions. So that was my motivation – quality of school, I knew the chances of getting a good education would be worthwhile, and I tried to just jump all over that, and then fortunately, throughout the two year timeline I was afforded a lot of opportunities and given a lot of practical knowledge on top of just what I was expecting educationally.

Kira:                  How about you Cassie?

Cassie Gabelt:   So I was actually in – I’m kind of the same as Travis in the sense that I knew I wanted to join the Military; in Seventh Grade I was sitting in science class when our TVs flipped on and I watched the towers fall. But when I – and I’d always felt pulled in that direction, but I graduated in 2007 from high school and kind of in my family, even though we’d had lots of different people enlisted, an officer in Military and in the Intel community, I went to college because that was what you were supposed to do.

But I did, I felt pulled in a different direction, so I ended up enlisting in the Navy after my first year at College – I did drop out. And I joined the Navy, spent four years in – I was in Monterey at the Centre for Information Dominance Detachment in Monterey – I think it has different name now. But I studied up there for a while and then I ended up stationed down in San Diego. When I separated from the Military, I went back to undergrad and I finished my degree in French, because I realised that I could do that very quickly, because I knew that I wanted to save enough of my GI to go grad school, and I was between law school and this degree.

And ultimately I ended up making the decision that politics and management and public service – that’s where my heart is, more so than with the law. I knew George Washington was a good school from the get-go, I knew it was prestigious. My grandpa actually finished his law degree there; he went to law school back in, I think it was the 50s or 60s at GW, and it was so weird because where we had our residency, near the end of the program in our last and final class, where we would walk out of the building every day was directly across the street from the law school when my finished up his grad school. So I thought that was kind of neat, how that all came full circle.

Kira:                  That’s an amazing story. So can you recall specific courses or a Professor, or an assignment that really stayed with you since you completed the program?

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah. Actually, because I was torn between political management and law school, we actually did – I took a Constitutional Law class and I was already biased towards that class, I love it. It was a wonderful class just to kind of get into the nitty-gritty of the Constitution and where we are today with our Federal Election laws, and the influence that it has – how all that ties together. And ultimately we ended up writing a decision on a certain case that has not yet been decided, so for a year after I took this course, that class – it might have been close to a year – I’d been following the case and the decision came out, and clearly our Professor was – I mean all of our Professors were phenomenal – but this one in particular was wonderful because she had us, not even law students, figure out how that case was going to go.

That one really, really stuck with me. So yeah, there’s one – Travis your turn?

Kira:                  Nice.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, you know all of them actually really did offer something different. And I think – you know a question I always get brought up to, being in active duty still but, is GW [here in DC 00:20:27] is a typically Liberal type college. I never ran into that problem, but obviously people in the Military, for some reason, the overt conservativeness just kind of like – it’s just a foundation I guess you could say. But with all of them, you know even my Professors were – even if was like something more Liberal or something, I’m just not used to – I appreciated their comments and it was – even just parts of that were just very educational.

But I was –

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, that was [unintelligible 00:20:58] a lot. That was us [unintelligible 00:21:03] a lot –

Travis Foley:     Yeah.

Cassie Gabelt:   – like we went back and forth for the entire time we were in the degree program together, so it’s funny that we’re sitting here together doing this. (Laughs)

Travis Foley:     Yeah. But yeah, I mean [Sean Gagin 00:21:18], you know he –

Cassie Gabelt:   He made me learn how to use Twitter. (Laughs)

Travis Foley:     – like some of the stuff we were doing on – yeah – and then like he still follows – I mean he still does a lot on Twitter, and like I still actually learn from him, like what he’s doing, and he just – he always provided a lot of feedback, and just some of his – like it is…

I guess there was one thing with all the instructors too, when you gave – when you turned in your work, it wasn’t just kind of checked and block remarks back to you; there is like, at least half the time, I would get comments back, talking – even like hey you did a nice job or like I really liked reading your work. They would always give constructive criticism, and hey in the future, you could always look at going this way, or thinking about something like that. I don’t know Sean always, Mr. Gagin he definitely always did that. So that definitely always stood out in my mind.

Kira:                  Mm-hm.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, he was great with that too. And there were, most other Professors, I do want to add, in almost every class, whether you’re taking Grass Roots Lobbying, or Quantitative Data and Analytics, or taking the Constitutional Law class – their feedback is, it’s almost like an entire paper in itself. And that really – I learned a lot more, like when you write a paper and you turn it is and you think you’re done with that subject, with the comments and everything that came back to you, it kind of brought it back to the forefront, like you weren’t – you’re still not done, you’re still thinking about that subject.

Travis Foley:     Right.

Kira:                  And I found what’s interesting is both of you have the political science background in your Bachelors; so this being Political Management, how would you compare and contrast your experience between what you studied in undergrad and your Graduate degree at GW?

Cassie Gabelt:   I would say that in undergrad with the Political Science, I did a minor. But almost all of those classes and even with what I’m teaching right now – I’m teaching Government at a local college, it’s focussed on the history and more of the philosophy and why we do things the way that we do, and this is where our schools of thought come from. And that’s great, that you need to have a theoretical and academic background, but what George Washington did with this particular degree, with it being Political Management, it taught you the skills, not just the-what but it taught you how – how to take what you’ve learned and apply it.

Because there’s always a dissidence – there’s that cognitive dissidence between academia and theory and then putting things into practice. And this degree – just management skills in general, it really kind of bridges that gap that I have not seen at other institutions.

Kira:                  And Travis, how about you?

Travis Foley:     Yeah. I completely agree with that, not to say like piggyback off of that. So I mean my background is still, and I think I got that question asked a couple of times during the Residency portion, but can you apply any of this. I know Cassie asked me, one day we were walking through DC, you know why do you want to pick this? And yeah, to be quite honest, like yeah, half the stuff in the classes, even though it was very interesting for me and educational, to say the least, I’ll probably never even use it if I stay in the route I am. However, there is at least three instances, and this is during deployments, where I use specific stuff or models, or templates, even one of like Cassie’s memos that she introduced, I kind of like stole her format in the way she was articulating information.

Cassie Gabelt:   (Over talking 00:25:21) (Laughter)

Travis Foley:     Yeah, and people at the Embassy in Kiev and Ukraine, so (laughter) and it worked out. Well it was good too because I knew Cassie’s background, and then we had other people in the class that – you know when you get stuck in the Military, it’s a whole different language and I know there was a couple of times in my classes where they were like hey, you know cut out the buzzword type stuff every once in a while, like you don’t need it – and it’s true, that just how we talk. So small things like that were effective, but definitely get to use like practical type documents or styles or templates, or just the way you thought about information – I tell you like it’s completely opened up my mind and in a sense too, it was like a breath of fresh air, because you just get Military stuff rammed down your throat non-stop.

And then to be a part of people that are highly educated, maybe think on a little different path than you do, you know it completely opened my mind, even just for that fact it was more than worthwhile.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, and I would say this too, because Travis is still active duty; he hasn’t transitioned out yet. So that’s one of the things that, and you’ll see this too when you transition out, you’ve all these Military skills but this degree kind of actually lends more credibility to the skills that you have. And so it’s opened up – I mean like I said before, I’ve landed two jobs just since I graduated, and it’s going to make Travis’ transition and anybody else who’s active duty, or who’s using their GI Bill, it’s going to make your transition a lot easier. And it’s going to open up so many job possibilities for you; I mean I’ve gone from being a Mediator, to refining those skills and working with juvenile and juvenile cases only, to now working domestic and vandalism and assault cases, now to I’m a Senior Recruitment Coordinator for a global organisation. As well as now I’m also qualified to teach higher education. So just the doors that this degree opens up, it’s really unparalleled.

Kira:                  And it’s just, by coincidence that both of you have studied through this program together, even though Cassie you live in Ohio –

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah.

Kira:                  – and then Travis is like a few States in Colorado. So how – and obviously you’re still in touch and you maintain that network; how has the interaction been for you through the program with other classmates and your Professors and things like that – how’s the interaction level?

Cassie Gabelt:   I am still in touch with a few Professors, and some other people that were in class, and yeah, there’s somebody I was in class with who’s from Abu Dhabi and we still talk here and there.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, same with me – same individual from Abu Dhabi as well.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, he’s great.

Travis Foley:     I actually just forwarded a bunch of information – yeah. I have some friends in a different unit, you know same unit just different locations, and they’re focussed on Syria, and he was giving me all – even something as small as like places to go and specific cities that typically are [unintelligible 00:28:52] or foreigners don’t travel. So you have these very personal relationships and then – even Sean Gagin on Twitter, sometimes even just like goofy remarks I’ll make in terms of like sports, like he’ll always like respond to me or like like something. I made some comments too about some of the Military stuff, because obviously post-Trump Twitter area, even the Military officials are getting involved on Twitter now, so it’s kind of interesting, but even that – I mean just talking (over talking 00:29:25).

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, I dreaded Twitter. I mean [names 00:29:28] back and forth sometimes but it’s more than just like a business professional relationship, it’s a friendship and I know if I have questions with what I’m going to be starting my new job with, if I have any questions because a lot of the stuff that we’ll do is Military – if I have questions about units that I’m unfamiliar with, I can always get hold of Travis. If I’m ever in DC, I know there are about six different Professors that I could get hold of, hey you want to have lunch. There’s another Professor who she’s moving to Texas now, so I know if I ever go there, I can crash on her couch.

She’s actually from Ohio and she teaches fundraising and budgeting, which was a subject that I absolutely dreaded and which was one of the reasons that I was not going to run for Office because I was like I don’t want to fundraise, this is impossible, I don’t know how to do this, and she made it so easy – she’s one of the reasons that I’m running as well. And so I do stay in touch with her and kind of follow – see where she is in Ohio if we can meet up.

Kira:                  That’s incredible. And then also by chance you both attended the DC Residency; can you talk a little bit about that – your learning points, anything like that?

Cassie Gabelt:   Travis, you can go first, if you want.

Travis Foley:     Yeah sure. Yeah, to be quite honest, that was one the better weeks I’ve had like in a while, from a professional standpoint. And I get more questions about that nowadays with people in my command asking about people I talked with and just who we got to interact with during that time. Typically if I’m in the DC area, I’m dealing with various NGO/NGA – or sorry NGOs and other organisations specially dealing with the Military, but to get – to deal with like Heritage, American security project, two different think tanks, and then even the gentleman who created the Washington Free Beacon. I just thought some of those interactions were more than worthwhile, things that you would never get a chance to unless you went to school there; I just thought the organisational structure of it, being able to go out and like – I think that just like symbolised the whole program. Because it is so practical, like it –

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, it validated everything I did.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, yeah – and it had nothing to do about like sitting a classroom, right. So I would second that, I think that’s one of the most worthwhile things in the whole program.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, and it really was – I mean I was thinking American Security project, like from the Military perspective, it was so – it was just cool, to go there and meet retired generals and things like that. We toured the Capitol with somebody who’d been in Congress, he was a Representative from Michigan and he also works with the Brookings Institute. We visited the Heritage Foundation, we visited the RNC – where else did we go – so many places. I mean we went all over the Washington Post –

Travis Foley:     Several professional staffers, and yeah.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, I actually did an interview with a reporter for the Washington Post just this past Saturday, and he looked familiar when he was there and I’m thinking no there isn’t somebody for the Washington Post in Stark County Ohio, and sure enough it was him. So it’s just neat to see everything come full circle and yeah, I’m going to be looking out for that article now (laughs).

Kira:                  That’s great. So that’s a week-long optional experience that you’d highly recommend to our potential graduates, right?

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, I would say – I mean it’s optional to go to, but if you’re doing it online, I would say it’s not optional – it cements everything, and the connections that you make too. Because that’s another person, I stay in touch with the Honourable Bob Carr who gave us the tour of the Capitol, and is working with –

Travis Foley:     Oh yeah.

Cassie Gabelt:   – Brookings, so if I have questions for him, I just shoot him a message, you know hey, what’s the take on this, and everybody’s more than willing to respond. I would say it’s one of the fears that I did have about George Washington is that it’s such a big institution, I felt like maybe – because I came from a small Liberal Art College, I was thinking maybe we’d get lost in confusion with the big institution, but that was totally not the case.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, I would agree. I had to go to the National Ground Intelligence Centre in Charlottesville Virginia – Cassie, I don’t know if you were there that one night. But anyway the guy I was working with, he’s actually – he’s from Charlottesville as well and good friends with the Mayor, and then I didn’t realise it that we were going to meet up for dinner – this was like two months ago – and we met up for dinner and the Mayor was there and he kind of like looked at me, because we had that [BTC 00:34:25] one of the nights, and he got to give like a first person point of view of all the issues they’d had, in terms of just –

Cassie Gabelt:   The Charlottesville rally –

Travis Foley:     – especially racism, yeah. And I got to talk to him person and like I would have never have known who he really was and like even had that – it was just one of those unique opportunities that was completely because I got to go to that Residency piece of the program.

Kira:                  That’s incredible. And do you recall, you know with the program, we’ll get to the program overview and curriculum next, but since we’re on the topic, do you, Cassie and Travis, recall which of the three clusters, Applied Proficiencies, Advocacy Politics, or Electoral Politics you pursued and why you chose each – you know made those decisions?

Cassie Gabelt:   I did the blend.

Kira:                  Nice.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, so I did a little bit of everything. Go ahead.

Travis Foley:     I mean I did Electoral Politics, mainly just because I’m – that’s one of the more fascinating things I find about, just politics in general. The whole election process and how that works in our country, and especially nowadays, so I try to relate it to what works in other countries, and even just kind of seeing the difference between Democratic and Communist type principles and how they affect what everyone’s [unintelligible 00:35:55] Democracy or how they define it – I just find it interesting so I just kind of chose that right off the bat.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, it kind of – I just – I did the blended disciplines so I did a little bit of everything. One of the things that kind of struck me as I was going through was that we’re a representative republic with Democratic influence and then actually examining the Electoral College and hearing all the different viewpoints surrounding that. It challenged my own thoughts on the subject, which is one of the reasons that I did ultimately decided to pursue all three kind of combined.

Kira:                  Mm-hm. How would you describe the level of support for members in the service? From GW?

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, that would be you.

Travis Foley:     Oh I thought it was huge. Yeah, no I mean right from the get-go, so I mean on every base, even though they’ve kind of transformed it, but every Military installation you have your education centre and even though like I had two individuals there that specifically helped me, the people that dealt with active duty personnel at GW pointed me in the correct direction each and every time. So even with the post 9/11 GI Bill, the nuances behind that and how that specifically works and what they charge you in terms of hours and then how that really ties into TA and then there’s a whole top-up program which you’ll come across, and it’s really not how you think it works.

So it’s like – so I mean like at one point we figured out, and I actually kind of cracked – not me specifically but George Washington helped me kind of like crack the puzzle on this, and I actually gave that information to the Education Centre on Fort Carson. And to this day, I still get questions about hey what are the specifics and like how this truly works and then what are your contacts at George Washington that we could reach out to so we’re not necessarily bugging you about it all the time. But, yeah, that’s just kind of a vignette, but that speaks to just the quality of interaction and then like the level of which people will go at George Washington to help you out.

Because you’re not in a typical situation when you’re on active duty trying to go to a school that’s not designed to specifically support active duty Military personnel. You know it’s a historical institution that has many focuses elsewhere, but nonetheless I found a great deal of help from the people at GW.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, and then on my side; I was separated, I was out and I was using my GI Bill, so every month – or not every month – every class I would login and certify myself and I did have kind of a tuition issue at the very end. And I happened to be at the Residency – I went into the Veteran’s office there and they straightened it out and within three days every – all my issues were resolved, and that was the level of student help that I got. They said yeah, if we can’t figure this out we’re going to have our supervisor get a hold of you and they were phenomenal as well. If I had any questions, I could call them at any time – send them an email, they’d always get back to you within 24 hours.

I thought it was going to be – well I didn’t think it was going to be as easy as it was just with the GI Bill and being Yellow Ribbon and being from Ohio and doing everything distance, but they really, really made it just as simple as if you’re there.

Kira:                  That’s great. And then I guess one of the final questions before we invite Gillian to speak about the program, is how – what has surprised you about online learning? And we’ll start with Cassie?

Cassie Gabelt:   How doable it actually is. I have a seven year old, he was five when I started, and with the online learning, being able to pace myself after he would go to bed at night, I could do my homework, I could write my papers, I could read them – watch lectures, read the books, I could – it was just with the fact that it was so flexible. I mean we had some hard deadlines but those deadlines are in your syllabus. You get a calendar every – at the start of every class and they give you the outline, okay this is due then, this is due at this time, and you really kind of start to get in a groove. And the way that GW had this structure – almost every class follows this structure so you get into a routine.

And having that routine, especially when you’re – you know you have to be self-motivated, and I would say that you know Military personnel have the self-discipline to do this. I’m sure it’s not easy for some people, but it’s kind of engrained in us at this point and that’s really my main takeaway; it was way more doable that I thought it was going to be and I actually did better in grad school than I did in undergraduate.

Kira:                  Right, Travis?

Travis Foley:     Yeah, I would concur. I think, yeah, it’s just completely feasible. You look at it – I mean that’s another good thing about this program, it is designed for the busiest of people and people that find them – especially for me, I had two deployments and I was also in a school, or training, in North Carolina for several months where I wasn’t allowed to have personal electronic devices other than the ones that were specifically issued to me, and working non-stop throughout all those instances at times. So yeah, I mean there are some patches where you know I’ve got to do – I’ve got finish this work you know and I’m not going to get sleep tonight, and that was the truth.

And I hadn’t done anything like that since undergrad necessarily in terms of learning or schooling or anything like that, but I look back on it now and it wasn’t always like – it’s not always the easiest program, it will challenge you, like Cassie was saying, but even just having one class at a time and then having two weeks off in between, and you do that for two years, it allowed you to get into a rhythm but it also allowed you to like obtain the all the information within like the online courses you were receiving.

I talked to other people at different schools and you know they’ll take two or three classes at a time, and I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s just not you’re going to that specific class on a weekly basis, but I hear the comment all the time, it just seems like all three classes are rolled into one, like I don’t even understand what assignments for which class. So I think, because when you progress through the program too you can always apply stuff from a previous class to another one, and it really does kind of like build on each other and I didn’t expect that.

So educationally it’s more than beneficial compared to other institutions, at least from what I know. And then on top of that, the way GW does it, it just works. Like it’s feasible, you can get through it, and especially if I got through it, like just about anyone can.

Kira:                  Thanks Travis and Cassie. Great, so we’re going to invite Gillian Birmingham, she is the Enrollment Advisor for the program, so to anyone who is going to be applying for the spring start date, you’d be working with the lovely Gillian. Please go ahead Gillian and tell our audience about our program overview and the curriculum, and in the meantime, if you have any questions for Cassie or Travis or program-related questions, just use your Q&A window to send your questions to me and we’ll take them up during Q&A. Thanks – take it away Gillian.

Gillian:              Okay, thank you very much Kira, and also Cassie and Travis, thank you very much for sharing your experience both inside and outside of GW. And Cassie I just want to wish you all the best as you campaign for your Office –

Cassie Gabelt:   Thank you.

Gillian:              – and it’s the Year of Woman, I really, really you many success going forward, so congratulations on that.

Cassie Gabelt:   Thank you.

Gillian:              And Travis and Cassie for your service as well, that you guys have been doing, and now you’re continuing to serve in a different avenue but as well for the country, so congratulations on that.

So okay, as we get into courses, and Cassie and Travis sort of highlighted a lot of the information here already, so I encourage to have additional conversations with prospective students, the ones who are listening on today and I’m also going to follow up with you after this webinar as well. So in terms of the course outline, so if you notice there we’re looking at 12 courses. So each one of your courses are three credit hours, you have the 36 credit-hour program altogether, and the great bonus, as Travis was emphasising, is you’re registering for two courses a semester, but you’re just focussing on one course at a time.

So for that six week period, your focus is just on one thing, so you can definitely continue to manage your family life, your work life and you have to have a little bit of a social life just to keep things moving along and still be very successful in the program. You’re going to have challenges, that’s expected, and you have to welcome that as well, because you want to make sure that when you come out of this then you really feel that you benefit from it and you can see from the [Defence success we’ve had 00:45:11] so far, that’s it’s been very, very instrumental in getting them to that level, so that’s great.

So in terms of the breakdown of those 12 courses;, you’re looking at four core courses, we’re talking about the fundamentals of Political Management, so that’s basically our history, how to apply history to current situations. We look at Applied Political Communication, so that’s the models in [unintelligible 00:45:30] professional plan, introduced strategic communication messages. Political data and analytics – that’s communication strategy and political research. Then the fourth one is the principles of political leadership and that’s basically the strategic elements that you necessarily need to create and introduce political profiles in terms of campaigns and elections and so forth.

So each student must take those four core courses, and then you take the seven electives – and I was so glad that both Travis and Cassie, they did it in different ways. So even though you have those three clusters, Electoral Politics, that talks about campaign strategy, digital strategy, grassroots engagement, fundraising and budgeting and running for Office. Then you have the Advocacy Politics that deals with the lobbying and working for non-profit organisations, State and Inter-Government levels and public affairs. And then the last one is Applied Proficiencies, so that basically is the flexibility of how you can customise and hone important skills, such as when being opposed to – looking at the laws and rules and strategies, [unintelligible 00:46:30] and registration, audience research and communication consultant.

They both did it differently; so one did a blend, that’s Cassie, so she was able to get both from the Advocacy part, a little bit from the Electoral part which helps in running for Office, and being able to lobby for certain causes, and she talked about fundraising and budgeting as well. So that’s pretty much across the three different clusters, and that she benefited from the end. And one of the great Professors that deals with fundraising and budgeting was Nancy Bocskor, and she’s very passionate about that as well. She really makes people enjoy how you can approach people, don’t be afraid to do that, so she’s one of the Professors that I think you guys would really enjoy to take in that particular course.

And then we talked about – so you’re taking the seven electives from those three clusters and then you have the opportunity for the ones who cannot afford to do the hybrid, which is the five of the six weeks online and then the one week Washington Residency, then you do the Capstone project over that six week period. But a lot of the information that both Travis and Cassie shared, it’s really beneficial if you can make that – have that opportunity to attend the Washington DC Residency, because it helps you to expand your network and capabilities as well, and it’s across the US, it’s not just limited to being in DC or within that environment. They have met people from different States and they continue to be in contact with them and share that connection, so it really was wonderful in that regard.

Next Kira? Okay, so when I’m speaking to students, we’ll definitely go a little bit more in depth in talking about the requirements for the program, and one of the great things about it, and I think – I believe it was Travis who mentioned that he didn’t want to have to take the GRE. So the good news is that students have opportunities of doing something else. A lot of people don’t like the standardised [tests 00:48:19] so you have the option of presenting what we call a portfolio.

So basically out of your professional work experience, you present a couple of examples together with a descriptive essay, and this is where you can show the committee how you’re able to handle a Graduate program, the things that you’re bringing to the table, your working experience, involving that and showing them your real passion for the program. These types of things come out in your different documents that you’ll be presenting to the Committee.

So it’s very much doable, we don’t step away because your GPA falls under that 3.0, we still give students the opportunity to be able to get into the program and really benefit from what you can get from the professional standpoint as well. And last but not least, we’ll talk about the tuition and fees. So right now you’re looking at a cost of $1,710 per credit hour, and you’re taking 36 credits altogether. Each one of your semesters you’re looking at six credit hours because you’re taking two courses at a time, each one of them of three credit hours.

So you’re looking at roughly $5,130 per course. And overall your current tuition for the two year program is $61,560. Now the good thing about it, both Cassie and Travis were able to use their Military benefits, so that’s great. I would suggest for students, a lot of them – or applicants don’t think about approaching the HR Department – check with them and see if you have access to any type of tuition reimbursement, right. And take advantage of that as much as you can, but you also have the opportunity to apply for Federal Student Loans as well. And quite a number of students don’t realise that it’s very different for a Master’s degree than it is for a Bachelor’s. With a Master’s degree, they don’t look at your household income; so they basically look at the cost of the program to assess what you’re entitled to in terms of the Federal Student loans.

So when I have that conversation with the ones who I have it with at this point in time, I will send you all that information, so you have everything at your fingertips. We try to make it as easy as possible because it’s an online program, number one, but our students are also working on a full-time basis, so I’m trying to assist you as much as I can to show you how very simple and easy the whole process is to get the application in and get everything done for you, so it’s a very easy process altogether.

And then you have the application fee which is $80 Application fee. Technology fee is $25, Registration fee is $35, and the Enrollment deposit is $100. Now for a lot of the students, if you apply for the Federal Student Loans, we can also deduct that $100 from the Federal Student Loan so you don’t feel like you’re out of pocket at the beginning of your classes, so that’s a good thing to note as well.

And last but not least, we’re going into the Application Requirements. So right now I’m encouraged to have a conversation with each and every one of you. After that conversation I’ll send you a full package. The first one deals with your Application information, so there’s a link where you basically just click on that link and logon to the system, create your profile, and then you can continue from there. It technically takes about 20 to 25 minutes to complete the Application form, and you don’t have to have all your documents right away to get everything done – you can start the Application, the great opportunity is for you to enter your recommended details from the onset.

So once you’ve gotten the green light from your recommenders, you get to the section where you enter their email addresses and their names, because keep in mind you’re depending on people who are going to do this for you – so that’s out of your control – everything else you can pretty much control. And then you’ll also be working on a full-time basis, then we also – especially now, they may also be involved with the election that’s coming up as well, so you want to make sure that you give them enough time to do those letters for you. So we look for three letters of recommendation for students who have been recently out of school or who are still in contact with their Professors, you can go with a combination of academic plus professional letters of recommendation. And all that can be done electronically.

So as soon as you enter that information, our system will send them everything that they need to complete those letters for you, and send it right back to the Application. We need transcripts – we don’t need official transcripts for the sake of the Application, you can definitely use unofficial copies, as long as your [conferred 00:52:35] degree and date is showing up on your last transcript, that’s acceptable. But once you get into the program, that’s when we would request the official transcript from you. So whether the [transfer credit’s 00:52:45] showing up at any of your transcripts, you still need to get copies of transcripts from each and every school that you attended.

Your Statement of Purpose, keep in mind that when we’re having that conversation, the committee is not hearing that conversation, right, so you want to bring it out in your Statement. Why this particular program, why George Washington University, why are you looking at this program at this point in time – bring in your goals and your motivation – what got you to this point. And it also allows me, as the Enrollment Advisor, to have the opportunity to review and your documents before it goes on for that final review. So it gives you that opportunity to get that second pair of eyes for you and make sure that you put forward a very strong application before it goes off.

And then your current resume; make sure you highlight all your professional work experience, even if you’ve done some voluntary with regards to the political arena, make sure that’s highlighted there as well. Again, because that’s where the committee gets that true picture of you, so don’t sell yourself short. And then the final thing would be your Application fee, the $80 Application fee to submit the Application. And the great, great news obviously is that if your GPA is about a 3.0 you don’t have to take the GRE, so that’s fantastic.

Okay, and next we’re looking at accepting applications; we’re currently doing that. Our next start date is 7 January, so yes it sounds like it’s far away but it’s right around the corner and I know a lot of students are looking to get into it, and especially from the conversation with Cassie and Travis, I’m sure the excitement is there, so that you can get to that next level. So definitely you’re looking to get into the program. By starting in January 2019, technically by the end of 2020 you complete the program, so that’s another way of looking at it as well – its right around the corner. So let’s get things going.

So if you need to get in touch with me, Gillian Birmingham, my toll free number is 1.888.989.7067 Ext 3212, and as I said, I’ll be following up with each and every one of you within the next couple of days or so.

Thank you, Kira.

Kira:                  Thank you so much Gillian – great job. So now we are approaching the hour, but we still have time for a few questions coming in before we invite our panellists back for their final words. So the question here is actually for Gillian, and it’s in regards to the Letters of Recommendation; could you tell us what the Admissions Committee is looking for in these Recommendations? And what should the writer include in their letter?

Gillian:              So the great thing about the Letters of Recommendation is that once – and that’s why I’d always encourage you to put it through the system and start the Application early. Because once you enter their contact details, we actually send them exactly what we’re looking for in that email they receive. So how long have you know the applicant, what are their strengths and their weaknesses, tell me if you think they’re suitable persons to go onto a Graduate level, how have they been involved in terms of any type of team assignments that they’ve done on the job, what are their capabilities of getting to that next level. So it’s a very simple thing – it’s just basically writing a letter about what they know about your strengths from a professional nature – it’s very simple.

Kira:                  Perfect, thank you so much. Next two questions would be in regards to time commitment, and this I guess would be for Cassie and Travis; you talked about time management before, but just approximately how many hours per week are you looking, in terms of dedication to your studies when you’re in the program?

Travis Foley:     Cassie, should I – I don’t want to come off like I haven’t been enough work or – no, I’m just kidding. I spent like probably 20 to 30 – I know that different classes I just kind of found easier, but I don’t think any less than 20 hours a week, to be quite honest.

Kira:                  Okay, how about you Cassie? I don’t know if you’re on mute?

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, I was most definitely on mute – can you hear me?

Kira:                  I can how, yes.

Cassie Gabelt:   Okay. Yeah, I would say I spent between 15 and 20 – it depended on what the subject was. Like some of it we had to sit there and go through cross-tabs and data from the George Washington Battleground Poll – and there’s a lot of cross-tabs and a lot of data there that you can sift through and unpack. And for some, maths and statistics are their strong suit, but for other people it’s not so much. Like the Constitutional Law class, it probably did not take me nearly as long as it took other people to do. Whereas doing a lot of the statistics, even though like I am an analyst, if have the information, I can have a computer out the information for me, but it was harder for me to do by myself. So it really depends on the subject, but I would say block out at 15 hours, if not more.

Kira:                  That’s sounds reasonable, Cassie. Okay, perfect, thank you so much. So if you, the audience have questions for us, please feel free to reach out to Gillian Birmingham here, and her contact information, or at least her phone number is available for you as well as her email address here on your screen and we’ll be happy to work with you. Also keep in mind up-coming start date for spring, and as Gillian mentioned, it is just around the corner, even though it sounds like far away because you do want to make sure that you have enough time to being building a really strong application, and Gillian will be here to help you with that.

And before we end today’s presentation, I just want to invite Cassie and Travis back for any final words to our audience; any words of advice, any tips for success that you can share, that would be great. What about Travis to start.

Travis Foley:     Yeah, I would just – if you’re definitely thinking about doing the program, you know just honestly apply and just do it. You know don’t second-question like whether you think you can do it – you’ll find time, and quite honestly, at least from what I can tell from any institution that’s on the same level as George Washington, you’re not going to find a better program to, one educationally, but two, that’s going to be accommodating to what you’re trying to get out of other aspects of your life as well.

So yeah, don’t overthink it – you know it’s a wonderful opportunity and I would go ahead and just try to complete the program and then move on from there. But yeah, I can’t speak – I can’t I guess highlight the fact that this program is ideal, at least in my mind, if you’re any type of active duty Military, or you’re employed full-time, especially if you have a family. So just that balance between allowing you to do what you need to do outside of class, but then also provide you with an education that you can always look back on personally. And then always – you know today I still get, so where did you go to school, like where did you get your Master’s, and I’m like George Washington, and people, even my group Commander is a Colonel, he just kind of looked at me and was like how did you get to go there? And like I just – well luckily I was kind of smart and I got in. But it’s things like that, and it’s definitely worthwhile.

Cassie Gabelt:   Yeah, I would say that too. I mean the name George Washington – it carries a lot of weight. With the program, just the personal development that I’ve had in the way that I look at the world, along with the opportunities that having this degree has given me, I wouldn’t trade it ever – I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I feel like since I’ve gotten this degree, everything has kind of just fallen into place now. So I would definitely suggest if you’re even on the fence, but I would say you should really seriously consider it and do it – it’s wonderful.

Kira:                  Thanks Cassie and Travis. It’s been really wonderful having you back to GW to speak about the program and share your experience with our audience. I hope the audience has found it beneficial as you consider your program for your graduate studies, and thank you so much for time spending it with us today. If you have any questions, once again, Gillian’s contact is there, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and looking forward to having you join our program in the spring.

Thank you Cassie, Travis –

Cassie Gabelt:   Thank you.