Notes from the Capital, June Edition

We’re back with year eight of our Notes from the Capital series! As a reminder, every summer, 20 rising juniors and seniors head east from Columbia to spend June and July working, studying, and exploring in D.C. as part of our Kinder Scholars Program. Busy as they are, they’re always willing to take some time every few weeks to provide updates about their adventures, and here’s the first installment, featuring: Grace Nielson, who’s working for Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37); Shanley Silvey, who’s interning with Woodberry Associates; Lillie Williams, who’s at the NEH; Jackson Bailey, who’s in Missouri Senator Roy Blunt’s office; and Anna Cowden, reporting from Proof Strategies PR agency.

KICD: What’s been an unexpected highlight of the internship—something you didn’t think you’d have a chance to do but found yourself in the thick of? And/or what’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Grace Nielson (Social Work): The biggest challenge so far has been remembering that when I’m done with my work, I’m always able to ask for more and find out where I can be of help. Because of this, I’m now in charge of handling all tours for our office: scheduling them, giving them, and serving as the point of contact with families and visitors. But the most unexpected thing—and probably my favorite part of interning for Congresswoman Bass—is that, in addition to working in her office, I also get to do a ton of research for her Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. It feels like two internships in one, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Shanley Silvey (Strategic Communication/Spanish): Luckily, I get to do a little bit of everything. This month I’m working with a conjunction of departments including health care advocacy, strategic alliances, and stakeholder relations. Next month, I’ll rotate to the strategic communication department, and then finish out the summer in government/public affairs. I truly didn’t think I would find myself quite this much in the thick of healthcare policy, but the average day in the office for me right now looks like researching new neurologic drugs on the FDA website and keeping up with the FTC’s investigation into Pharmacy Benefit Managers.

Lillie Williams (Constitutional Democracy/History): My internship has a biweekly reading club. It’s nice to learn more about my agency and the world of the humanities beyond what I do in my day-to-day activities, and learning from other interns is a true highlight, as they’re from many different academic and geographic backgrounds. We’re reading essays and articles on anything from “What is Public Humanities,” to “Why Data Science Needs Feminism.”

Jackson Bailey (Constitutional Democracy/Political Science): An unexpected highlight of the internship has actually happened outside the office, with historic laws and rulings having been implemented by our constitutional system while we’re in D.C. While opinions may vary on the recent actions of the Court and Congress, most everyone can agree that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be in the town where it all happens

Anna Cowden (Constitutional Democracy/Strategic Communication): I knew I would gain valuable experience at my internship, but I didn’t expect to feel like a full-time employee rather than an intern. I’ve been thrown into almost every client and big project. That part has been wonderful, because I feel like I’m getting a solid idea of what post-grad life might look like for me.

The biggest challenge has been my mid-afternoon slump. I personally work best in the morning and in spurts, so I start my days between 8:00 and 8:30 every morning, whereas most of my co-workers start at 9:00 or 9:30. So, it’s been an adjustment to work eight to nine hours at a gradual pace, rather than in the high-energy bursts I normally work in at school.

KICD: What’s it been like exploring D.C.? How far have you wandered? Have you found your D.C. spot yet?

Nielson: One of my favorite things about exploring D.C. is that every building I look at has so much significance. It reminds me every time that I’m now living in a place where real history is made. My favorite spots in D.C. so far are the U.S Botanical Garden and the Georgetown Waterfront. They’re both so peaceful and feel like nice getaways from the cityscape that downtown offers.

Silvey: Exploring D.C. has truly been a wonder; it seems as infinitely big as it is small. I wasn’t expecting to see this many trees in a big city, and each neighborhood could be a completely different city, state, or country. I haven’t wandered far enough, as I prefer to get to most places on foot, but I can’t say enough about my morning runs around Woodley Park, through the zoo and by the embassies tucked away in a residential neighborhood.

Williams: I’ve absolutely loved exploring D.C.! Each neighborhood is a new adventure. My favorite spots so far are the Dupont Farmer’s Market, a little café called Petit Monde, and the Renwick Gallery.

Bailey: Exploring Washington D.C. through both coursework and personal endeavors has been a thing of adventure and discovery. From my experience so far, I have most enjoyed reading and studying in the Library of Congress.

Cowden: Boy, do walkable and public transport-accessible cities make me happy! I explore mostly on the weekends with friends. So far, my favorite neighborhoods have been Georgetown, Mount Pleasant, and Dupont Circle. I’ve gone to the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning and have thoroughly enjoyed snacking on fresh vegan pastries and people-watching. Green Zone (Adams-Morgan) has the best fries I’ve ever had. I’m also a huge fan of Blue Bottle Coffee in Georgetown.

KICD: We’ll do a wrap-up on the course later, but going down the syllabus, what’s one lesson and/or field trip that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Nielson: I’m really excited about our week on the Supreme Court and Shadow Docket. With the current climate of the Judicial Branch and the upcoming cases that the Court will be hearing, I’m looking forward to taking a deeper dive into how those decisions are actively being made.

Silvey: The opportunity to tour the CIA doesn’t come around very often, and I truly believe I’ll enjoy learning about administrative agencies as integral parts of our government.

Williams: I’m really looking forward to the lesson on the Great Migration and the field trip to Gettysburg. Just reflecting at a site of such historical significance will help me learn more about how to interpret place and geography.

Bailey: I’m very much looking forward to the Scholars’ trip to the Supreme Court. Our lecture led by Fares Akremi will undoubtedly encourage reflection and conversation on the Court, its legitimacy, and the importance of institutional integrity.

Cowden: I’m most looking forward to Gettysburg. It’s a must-see historic site, but I don’t think I would have ever planned on getting there by myself. I’m glad I’m going with a group of students and professors who will help contextualize this heavy American event.