My first and only trip to Washington D.C. was a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum for a course I took in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Keene. I had never been to Washington, D.C. before, but I immediately fell in love with the area and atmosphere.
When I made the decision to study away, I had originally planned to go to Italy; however, by chance I found a program called the Washington Center (TWC), and the more I read about it, the more I believed it would be the perfect program for me.
The Washington Center is very different from a regular school schedule; it is more rigorous and demands better time management skills, high quality coursework and professional skills.
The program consists of a full time internship gaining hands on experience in our field of choice, a night course we select a leadership, engagment, achievement and developmental (LEAD) program with our peers to hone professional skills, a civic engagement program which encourages us to become involved by volunteering in the community and a professional track program which allows us to visit sites and organizations related to our fields and future careers.
Coming from a small farming town in Connecticut Washington D.C was a huge change for me. Although nervous about navigating the large city at first, I have more found myself much more comfortable than I expected in a very short time.
So far, I have had nothing but wonderful experiences during my time in D.C. and I’m sure that I will have many more before I leave for the semester.
Through my internship I am a Public Policy Associate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where I work on promoting and implementing mental health legislation in each state. I have already learned so much during my time at my internship and have had the opportunity to attend congressional hearings, briefings and conferences.
Our office is conveniently located a couple blocks from Capitol Hill. I have already made important professional connections and will have the opportunity to make many more during my time here, including meeting the founder of a club I’m a part of, Active Minds.
My night course is called political psychology where I learn a great deal about the current presidential election, politics as a whole and my major, psychology, as I conduct a personal research project.
I also enjoy my LEAD, civic engagement and professional track programs. In my professional track, I have already had the opportunity to get guided tours of the National Gallery of Art, John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Microsoft and I have attended conferences on medical marijuana, immigrants, refugees and human rights.
In my spare time, my friends and I are constantly exploring the city and seeing as many places as we can, including different neighborhoods, restaurants and museums.
One of my roommates is from L.A., one is from Spain and another is from Mexico. The community at TWC has a strong international influence with students from Spain, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Gibraltar, South Korea and others scattered across America.
Because of this, I have friends from all over the world, and I’ve never had more interesting experiences or made stronger connections and friendships.
I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet everyone here. We’ve been able to explore a very diverse and exciting city while gaining invaluable professional experience to help me get a job in the future.
So far, this has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Although our jobs and programs are time consuming and I’ve never been more busy in my life, I have also never been so productive and proactive.
The work I am doing gives me a strong sense of purpose and a newfound confidence as a young adult entering the professional world, which would have been much harder to attain without the Washington Center.
I have already gained amazing professional skills, made wonderful friends and had exciting experiences that are hard to find anywhere else.
I can’t think of a better way to spend my last semester of my undergraduate degree. If anyone is thinking about studying away, the Washington Center is definitely a program to consider.