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UMass Lowell Named Public Institution of the Year

University’s Excellence in Hands-On Education Recognized by Internship Center

UMass Lowell student Nicholas Imperillo
UMass Lowell student Nicholas Imperillo, shown third from left, completed an internship with the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department through the university's partnership with the Washington Center.


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LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell’s excellence in providing hands-on, professional experience to students as part of their education has been honored by a Washington, D.C., organization that prepares young people for leadership roles in public service, private industry and nonprofit endeavors.

UMass Lowell students participate in once-in-a-lifetime educational experiences through the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, which has named the university its Public Institution of the Year. The award recognizes UMass Lowell for leading the way in providing experiential education.

Through the nonprofit organization, students from colleges and universities around the world participate in career-building internships in the nation’s capital, along with classroom programs with elected leaders, policy experts and media professionals.

“This program gives our students the opportunity to really understand what professional life will be like after graduation. It takes them out of their comfort zone and puts them in the middle of a very vibrant and important city and introduces them to all kinds of new opportunities,” said Frank Talty, UMass Lowell’s liaison to the Washington Center and assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

As part of the center’s programs, Talty supervised groups of UMass Lowell students who learned about the U.S. political process firsthand as interns during national Democratic and Republican conventions in 2012 and 2008 where presidential candidates were nominated.

More than 150 UMass Lowell students have completed internships in Washington, D.C., while earning academic credit through the center, which has partnered with the university for more than two decades.

“From my freshman year on, I built my schedule so I could go to the Washington Center my junior year,” said MacKenzie Mahoney, a political science major from Peabody. “I’m so glad I did it; it was an awesome experience.”

During her four-month internship, Mahoney spent four days each week working at the National Defense University in Washington and the fifth attending seminars on such topics as leadership, advocacy and public policy. By the close of the semester, she had been selected to be a speaker at the Washington Center commencement.

Nicholas Imperillo, a UMass Lowell senior from Chelmsford majoring in criminal justice, spent last summer interning in the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department, one of the 10 largest local law enforcement agencies in the nation. He worked for an assistant chief in the department’s Strategic Services Bureau, helping to launch a community engagement program that brought the public together with police officers.

“I got to work with all levels of leadership. It was eye-opening,” said Imperillo. Both he and Mahoney are enrolled in UMass Lowell’s Honors College. 

Along with a new network of professional contacts, Imperillo came home with a plan for his future and is considering a career in regional law enforcement.

Similarly, Mahoney said her experience led her to think about career possibilities. After she graduates from UMass Lowell in May, she hopes to attend law school.     

“I thought I wanted to go into politics and government. I let go of my preconceived notions and I’m redirecting myself. I know now I want to go into public-interest law,” she said.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,500 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.