I don’t know how it was possible, but the last two days of the William & Mary Winter Washington Program were even busier than the first five.
Wednesday was our “Capitol Hill Day,” and like anyone who has a job on the Hill we did not stop all day. We started at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room where we met Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. We talked to him about everything from foreign policy to how his Catholic faith affects his decision making. The freshman Senator was incredibly personable and even spent an extra 15 minutes answering our questions.
Right after our meeting with Senator Kaine we ran to the House side to meet my congressman, Frank Wolf. We could immediately tell that Congressman Wolf’s persona was different than Senator Kaine’s when he proceeded to lecture us on why he thinks that the Obama administration has failed to protect human rights around the world. It was interesting to see the stark differences in the two fairly moderate elected officials. Frank Wolf, who has held that seat in congress since before my birth, just recently announced his retirement which may explain why he was far more aggressive about expressing his views than the recently elected Senator.
The next session was a Capitol Hill staffer panel with William & Mary alumni Logan Ferree ’07, Sarah Elkins ’06, Rob Bradley ’10 and Kelly Hastings ’03. They proceeded to be very honest about the difficult paths they took to get their jobs on the Hill. After the panel we were given a tour of the Capitol Building where we were lucky enough to randomly meet an alumnus of the class of 1972 who gives tours of the Capitol. When he found out we were William & Mary students he challenged our foreign language skills by proceeding to speak in French, Turkish, Portuguese, Mandarin and many others. He told us he spoke 59 languages and that he was “the ultimate TWAMP.” We also got the opportunity to sit in the House Gallery which was especially exciting because they were voting on extending unemployment benefits that day.
Isabella Liou, Allie Rosenbluth, President Taylor Reveley, Diana Winter at the 7th Annual William & Mary Capitol Hill Reception
Later that night we went to the 7th Annual William & Mary Alumni Capitol Hill banquet which turned out to be a pretty high profile event. Not only did President Taylor Reveley grace us with his always delightful presence, but also Senator Mark Warner, Senator Tim Kaine, law school alumna Representative Michelle Bachmann, Representative Steve Chabot ’75, Representative Dina Titus ’70, and the William & Mary Rector Todd Stottlemyer ’85. The event was a great way to meet all types of William & Mary alumni and catch up with old friends who recently graduated.
The next day started with a visit to the British Embassy. Originally I didn’t make the connection of what the British Embassy had to do with our class because I thought their primary role was working on British immigration and visas. At the embassy I found out this is very far from the truth. We talked to Jane Ansell and Matt Mazonkey who do policy and economic work for the embassy. I even found out that the British embassy has a group that works on climate change that especially sparked my interest since the UK is proudly one of the few developed nations to be on track to reach its 2015 emissions goals.
After going to the embassy, we had lunch with William & Mary’s Rector, Todd Stottlemyer. During lunch we were lucky enough to talk to him about issues on campus that really mattered to us such as tuition and financial aid, while he got the opportunity to explain some of the details of the William & Mary Promise the board just passed.
When lunch was over we were visited by three government contractors who filled us in on what they do. While I am not especially interested in contracting at the moment, I know it was a fantastic session for some of the seniors in my class who are looking to find work in that field. Next, we had a discussion with Thomas Whitehead ’06 who works for the USTR. He defends the United States in trade disagreements at the World Trade Organization. This was a great capstone for our class because it was a perfect illustration of how domestic and foreign policy influence each other.
I honestly cannot believe how much I have done in the last week during the William & Mary Washington Winter Seminar. It’s hard to imagine that in one week I’ve gained so much insight into the many different jobs in DC and I’ve only scratched the surface. This program has been a real wake up call for me, specifically that the plans I thought I had for the next three years may not be as concrete as I anticipated. I may actually have to let hard work and serendipity take me to where I belong, just like former ambassador Sanderson told us Monday night.
If you are considering doing the William & Mary Washington Winter Program I would strongly suggest it. Not only is it a great class, but it opens your mind to so many opportunities in DC. The William & Mary DC Office is absolutely fantastic. They are so supportive of all of their students, and I really do feel like I am part of the William & Mary DC family. I think that this program is best suited for seniors and juniors who are closer to entering the job market, but it is still a great opportunity for serious freshmen and sophomores. Honestly, I really wish I had more time at the William & Mary DC office, but because I have so many obligations on campus and in the summer I cannot extend my time with the office. If you have the opportunity to take a semester or a summer term with the DC office I would strongly recommend it. The William & Mary Washington Winter Seminar was a fantastic program, even for this DC girl.