BROOKE LEPAGE ’19
Washington D.C. is my favorite place to be. The sense of excitement I feel when I see the Lincoln Memorial or the Capitol building can never be matched. For this reason, I chose a rather unusual study away option. For my fall semester, I am partaking in a Washington Se- mester Program through American University. Through this program, I take classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and intern Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the United States Department of Education in their Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs.
Tuesdays and Thursdays consist of two three class sessions a piece that are a mix of lectures and guest speakers. Guest speakers have included Justice Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton’s former speech-writer Lissa Muscatine, policy personnel at various think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation, and many more. The speakers give students insight into their career path and also speak about their policy area of expertise.
My internship has allowed me to gain experience in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government as well as in education policy. At my internship, I focus on higher education policy. This means that I attend all Senate and Congressional hearings on topics related to higher education, and attend events around town at think tanks on the topic as well. After attending any events on behalf of the Department, I draft a report to be used by the staff. I have also had the opportunity to help prepare Department of Education witnesses and Assistant Secretary nominees for their hearings, meet Secretary DeVos and other political and career staff in the Department, as well as volunteer at Department of Education events. Ultimately, I have got- ten first-hand experience with Title IX policy which is what inspired me to choose this intern- ship in the first place.
Although I envy more traditional study away students and how they have the ability to get closer with different Trinity students, I have had the unique oppor- tunity to create friendships with students that live all around the country. We have ‘family’ dinners, make plans to visit each other while back at our home schools, and ta
lk about how much we are looking forward to reconnecting when we all return to D.C. after graduation.
My study away experience has given me invaluable knowledge pertaining to my career goals and D.C. in general. Washington is a city that runs on networking. I was not ready to go so far from home for all of my undergrad experience and am therefore grate- ful that I have the op- portunity to spend a semester in D.C. and reap the same benefits. Leaving will be bittersweet. I am indeed homesick for Trinity and my friends from my own school, my professors, my comfort zone, and the incredible campus that feels like home. Yet, D.C. has so much to offer from museums to sports games to career opportunities to breath-taking monuments. I feel fortunate to have been given a taste of such an incredible place.