Alumni Spotlight: Alumnus on the Hill

Michael Songer graduated in 2016 with a master's degree in History. As an online student in Virginia, he mastered his time and technology to achieve a degree which lead him up the Hill in D.C. 

Currently, Songer is a HillVets Fellow. The HillVets Fellowship is a full-time six-month fellowship in a Congressional office that aims to bridge the gap between veterans and the Hill. In addition, to working in a Congressional office, the Fellows receive training on the Congressional process and specialized training in budget, defense, foreign affairs, and veterans’ issues. 

"I found myself in the Fellowship as a result of hard work and good timing.  As I was finishing up my course work at ASU, I was looking for my next step in life and it was in this search I found the HillVets Fellowship," Songer said. "This was a perfect fit and perfect timing, and once I applied and made it through the screening and interview process, I was accepted and found my way to D.C. and was soon working in the Office of Senator Cory Booker. "

Songer answered a few questions about his love of history, his time with SHPRS and his plans for his future. 

Growing up, were you always interested in history? 
Yes, history has always been a passion of mine. Part of this drive came early on in life from my father, who himself is an avid reader of history and parts came from my fascination to explore and understand what I did not know.

Tell us about your time with SHPRS.
My time in SHPRS has been nothing short of amazing. The faculty has been great to work with and learn from, and the community you make with other SHPRS students was fantastic. 

What attracted you to the history graduate program at ASU?
When someone looks for a college program, there are numerous questions and variables that they are looking for answers to.  For me, ASU answered those questions and was just the right fit. From the faculty on down to the curriculum, it was what I was looking for.

What was it like getting your master's degree all online?
It does take some adjusting to get used to, but once you are able to understand the technology and master your time management, I found the education I received to be second to none. As someone who has taken classes both online and in the classroom, online classes are just as difficult as classes taken in the classroom.

Did SHPRS and your degree help in preparing you for your current position?
Absolutely, it has not only improved my ability to break down and analyze information I collect through research but also improved my ability to communicate that information to various types of audiences.

Was there a defining moment in your academic career?
The defining moment in my academic career was when I completed my final capstone portfolio. It was the culmination of everything that I had learned over my time at ASU. Significant amounts of research and writing, coupled with hard work, went into it. It is something I am proud of.

What is the most useful thing you learned that you can still apply today?
In addition to the research and communication skills earlier stated, the most useful thing I learned that I can still apply today is the fact that I will face almost nothing new. While technical details may change, I will be able to look to the past to find historical analogs for the situation I may face, to help guide me along the way.  

What are your plans for after your fellowship?
My goal is to parlay the experience I have gained from not only the fellowship but also from ASU into a permanent position here in D.C. working in the foreign affairs and defense, strategy and policy spectrums.     

Do you have any tips for current students?
Time management is key, it’s not something that is easy to master, but you must.  Failure to do so will make your academic career significantly harder.