“Notes from the Capitol,” Installment One

After having to take a year hiatus, we’re excited (to say the least) to be back with our semi-regular “Notes from the Capital” series, in which students who are out in D.C. as part of our Kinder Scholars Summer Program update us on their East Coast adventures. We’ll be back with another installment later in July—and then a final wrap-up once everyone’s back in Columbia—and note that some answers have been slightly edited for length.

KICD: I know it’s early yet, but what are your first internship impressions: anything that you’re doing that you didn’t expect? any highlights from the first couple weeks? anything on the horizon that you’re looking forward to?

Kathryn Gluesenkamp (Public Health/Economics): I’m a Health Equity Intern for the HHS on the InnovationX team. My first week here had a huge learning curve, because I had to learn project management processes and tech language to be able to apply my background in health equity. I’ve been intellectually challenged in ways I’ve not experienced before, but I’m loving every minute of it, and I’m excited for continuing my public health and economics coursework with this new perspective.

Brendan Durbin (Political Science/Philosophy): My internship is with the White House Transition Project, and I’ve been primarily responsible for monitoring and contributing to a database that tracks federal appointments by the Biden-Harris Administration. One of the most surprising (or, I should say, depressing) things I’ve learned is how slow the appointment and confirmation process is for presidential nominees.

David Garcia (History/Constitutional Democracy): My internship [with the United States Capitol Historical Society] is both in person and close to WISH housing, so every morning I get to walk past the Capitol and the Supreme Court to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Building where the office is located. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the internship, but so far, I’ve been enjoying my experience. Instead of fetching coffee, I’ve been gaining experience and understanding by helping with development campaigns and sitting in on board meetings, and I’ve even been put in charge of the USCHS’s new student membership program. Initially, the learning curve was steep, but the people at the USCHS have been very helpful and made sure that I am able to complete the tasks set before me. I’m proud of the work I’m doing and truly believe that this internship will prepare me for work in a non-profit organization.

Alex Foerstel (Political Science/Constitutional Democracy): I’m interning in the United States Senate and very excited to begin drafting constituent correspondence and doing services for the people of Missouri. My interest in this internship was largely based on wanting to do more with public service, and this will give me a great opportunity to achieve that goal. In addition, I will be assisting with policy research and other important office tasks.

Olivia Evans (Journalism): My day-to-day consists of an hourlong meeting with my editors and Forbes team each morning. I’ll pitch a few story ideas each day—some get picked up and some don’t. For the ones that get picked, I then start doing research and reporting. I also do some quick hit stories that I start in the morning and finish by the afternoon. I am loving every second of my internship. I’ve only been here for two weeks, and already learned so much. I’ve also loved the creative freedom my editors have allowed me. I expected to just be assigned mundane tasks or remedial writing, but I’m getting to work on some very cool longer form stories and doing data analysis and investigative research as well. I have one story coming up before July 1 [link here] that will be published, and I’m so excited for that because it combines my love of sports and business journalism.

KICD: Has there been anything (or multiple any things)—could be a bookstore, a restaurant, a walking route, a neighborhood—that you’ve experienced in D.C. so far that’s made you think, “I could live happily here forever”?

Evans: Kintsugi Café in the Eaton Hotel is the coolest coffee shop/café space I have ever seen in my life. When I went there to work one day, I saw the real D.C. inhabitants living their lives, and I could literally envision myself in that space with them permanently. Also, trains have been my favorite mode of transportation since I was a little girl and having the Metro for daily transportation is a dream come true.

Gluesenkamp: I love walking around Capitol Hill. It’s amazing that a casual walk around our neighborhood involves passing the Supreme Court. It’s fun to get out in the city, but, really, I have everything I need within 10-15 minutes: great coffee, great bagels, and Trader Joe’s.

Garcia: This may be a common answer, but of course, the National Mall is the place I enjoy visiting the most. I’ve been getting into the habit of running to the Washington Monument in the evenings after my internship. Running on the Mall and seeing all the Smithsonian Museums and the people meeting is an experience that I will never grow tired of.

Durbin: The thing that would make me able to live in D.C. forever is the metro system. Coming from St. Louis County, I’m used to needing a car; in the D.C. area, that really isn’t the case. The metro is extremely convenient and not terribly expensive, either.

Foerstel: Walking every morning from WISH Housing to the Senate Office Buildings requires that I go along First St., right in between the United States Capitol and the Supreme Court. This walk leaves me in awe and appreciation for this experience and life in D.C.

KICD: What class session and/or field trip is circled on your syllabus as the one you’re most excited about and why?

Garcia: Although I’m excited about all the classes and field trips, I think I’m most excited for Dr. Dow’s class on early congressional elections. This class session, in particular, has captured my interest because out of all the periods of American history, early American is my favorite. I’m familiar with some of the significant early congressional debates, so I’m interested in learning how the procedures in the young United States may have led to the election of some their [these debates’] more notable figures.

[Clearly Annapolis is the talk of the program as three other students responded similarly to David. Some snippets from their responses:

Evans: “Most of my excitement comes from how Dow hyped it up and sold it to us…I’m a BIG seafood fan and I’m just excited to see the Naval Academy, do the river cruise, and experience a city I’ve never been to before…”

Gluesenkamp: “I am really excited for Annapolis. I’ve heard it’s beautiful, and it’s great that we get the chance to get out of D.C. and see the surrounding areas…”

Durbin: “I’ve heard positive things about the cruise in the past, and I can’t wait to peruse the city and enjoy the sights…”]

Foerstel: I was most interested in the field trip to the United States Supreme Court, but COVID limited our options and we weren’t able to go. The substitute field trip to the National Archives was a great opportunity to view and appreciate the documents which set the framework for the great American Experiment and the governing system which we are blessed to have today.