EUintheUS Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Duda

Elizabeth (center right, in red dress) with her fellow Fall 2011 EU Delegation interns.

Elizabeth was an intern in the Political, Security & Development Section at the EU Delegation in the Fall of 2011.

What sparked your interest in the European Union? I spent my junior year of undergrad in Spain as an exchange student at the University of Salamanca and loved it. I traveled everywhere in Europe and wanted more! When I went back to JMU (James Madison University) for my senior year, I took a European Union policy course and I just loved it even more. My professor, Dr. Scherpereel, who taught the course, told me about a new master’s program at JMU, European Union Policy Studies. It was a year in Florence, and I said, “Sign me up!”

Elizabeth (second from right) during her master’s program in Florence with students from the University of Florence for a Model EU Simulation.

What did you like most about living in Florence?

  1. Food — my friend and I made it our mission to restaurant hop through the city.
  2. Art & Architecture — we got the Florence pass which allowed us to go to the museums as many times as we wanted and the Maggio Card, which got us into operas and ballets for €10 a show.
  3. Proximity to everywhere else in Europe.

What do you love most about the EU? I had this fantastic experience during my junior year abroad. I went from Paris to Brussels to Prague…all in two days. I love how you can experience more, meet more people, see more art, in a wonderfully diverse and fabulous place.

How did you hear about the EU Delegation internship program? A friend from my master’s program, who now works at the EUI (European University Institute) in Florence, actually had an internship at the EU Delegation before we did our master’s program together. So after finishing my master’s (and a fun summer), I decided to apply. Lucky for me, the Italian kid who was supposed to come couldn’t do it anymore, and since I lived in DC, it worked out really well in my favor!

Elizabeth during her internship — pictured in front of the EU flag on the first floor of the EU Delegation.

Tell us a little bit about your experience as an intern. My internship was such an incredible experience . We got to go to think tank events and hill hearings — it was a great way to experience DC and learn how the system of policy education works. I’m a local and have lived here in DC my entire life, but it’s different being on the inside. It was fun and exciting — I loved it!

It’s been a few years since your internship…what are you up to these days? I work at the American Retirement Association (ARA) as the Government Affairs, ACOPA, and Local Councils Coordinator. In a nutshell, the ARA educates and lobbies on behalf of your retirement planner and their industry, as well as works to ensure that all Americans have a dignified and well-funded retirement.

How do you stay connected to the European community? I am on the planning committee for the JMU European Union Policy Studies anniversary event in Florence and I’ve traveled back to Europe every other year. Also, I go to EU Open House! We try to get a group of us from the master’s program together to go to each year.

If there was one thing you would share with Americans about the EU, what would it be? The EU is one of our strongest trading partners and its member countries are some of our oldest allies. It’s important for Americans to realize that we benefit from a strong EU just as much as the EU benefits from a strong U.S. Our transatlantic partnership is something that we should definitely protect and enhance.

Are you a former EU Delegation intern? We’d love to hear what you’re up to and feature you in our next EUintheUS Alumni Spotlight. Just send an email to