Hilltop-on-the-Hill is an immersive introduction to Washington, D.C. The trip leaves SMU CCPA students understanding the value of their SMU education. Students meet leading decision makers and return to SMU prepared to dig into their classes with an intense determination.

About Hilltop-on-the-Hill 2019

CCPA students at Hilltop-on-the-Hill 2017

From October 12-16, students will travel to Washington, DC, and meet with political communication professionals. You will meet with key players in D.C., such as press secretaries, speechwriters, nonprofit advocates, lobbyists, and political advisors. You will also meet with news and policy makers and experience the Newseum. The purpose of this program is academic, but there will also be some amazing opportunities for you to experience American democracy.
Students who are selected for the program will be enrolled in CCPA 5110, a one hour directed study course.

Signature CCPA Program

As a signature program within the political communication track of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs (CCPA), Hilltop-on-the-Hill highlights communication’s vital role in the creation of Washington, D.C., its memorials, and its museums.

Reflecting on the words of our nation’s founders and the rhetorical analysis of the persuasive impact of the way our nation is visually framed, students begin to look at the capital in different ways. Students take a trip to the Newseum (the Museum of News) where they are able to see the artifacts over which First Amendment cases were fought.

Making Important Contacts

Those who successfully apply to this five-day program spend the majority of their time talking with DC insiders and career specialists. And for those lucky enough to catch the program during an election cycle, the Hilltop-on-the-Hill experience incorporates internships at the Republican or Democratic party conventions or with leading news organizations, as well as volunteer work at the presidential inauguration.

Each experience is different but at the heart of the program is the professional connections students make, especially alumni. Students meet a range of people from power brokers to the first-year Capitol Hill interns. Such meetings help them define the next steps for their careers. Alumni stories of SMU connections that propelled their careers offer students comfort and confidence.

Hilltop-on-the-Hill is funded through the generous support of alumnus Douglas Bauer. The Bauer endowment makes it possible to provide resources to students who demonstrate a willingness and desire to do the work required for participation. For the past several years, Southwest Airlines has generously sponsored student flights to DC.