Photo courtesy of Kari Burgess
Photo courtesy of Kari Burgess

Students explore life in the nation’s capital

This semester, the inaugural Wake Washington program allows students to take courses and participate in interships in the nation’s capital.

Under political science professor Katy Harriger, 16 students are taking courses in public policy and constitutional law at the new brick and mortar Wake Washington center in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. Although it’s no new Reynolds Gym, the center is outfitted with seminar and lecture-style classrooms, offices and a kitchen.

Besides hanging out in our new workspace, the students are also participating in internships for academic credit, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

My roommates and classmates have all had great initial experiences with their internships, but I can only speak to mine. I am working for the D.C. Council, under the office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (whom we lovingly abbreviate to CMMC in memos and Starbucks runs.)

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So far, my job consists of press clip briefings in the morning, in which I find recent news that is pertinent to the Department of Environment and Transportation, where I work, and individual projects in the late morning and afternoon. My current individual project is collecting data on the LGBTQ+ community in D.C. from all kinds of surveys taken in the area. Specifically, I’m looking for numbers on queer youth in the foster system and juvenile detention centers, interviewing people who work in Social Services, and making phone calls to strangers about their sexuality and gender identity.

All this research will put facts and figures behind the D.C. effort to train foster parents in LGBTQ+ issues, something that I’m very passionate about. I get to do work I love for the legislature, and I get class credit for it.

One con of living in D.C. is the metro. I am not a woman built to navigate public transportation. I can walk just fine, thank you very much, but try to tell me how to get somewhere in these sweet little underground tunnels and I’m lost for the whole afternoon. I’ve been told that it gets easier the longer you do it, and since I’m on week two of getting lost I must be just around the corner from a great understanding of the metro maps.

Some things I’ve done already: eaten at five different pizza restaurants, visited the National Mall at night time, been hit by a bicycle, jaywalked, sat on the statue of Albert Einstein’s lap, enjoyed a classic D.C. brunch, maxed out my credit card in a stationery store and ordered Chick-fil-A via Postmates. I can’t give up on the nuggets, y’all. It just tastes like the greasy Benson flavor of home.

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