Somehow it is the final day of my Scripps Howard Foundation Wire internship and the spring semester has flown by. I imagined it would, but it’s still overwhelming thinking about how I now have to shift my mindset to the next chapter.
During my time in Washington I have had the privilege of reporting on high profile events at some of the most historically significant landmarks in the U.S. Each story I have reported on has left me feeling more enlightened or has altered my perspective.
My first trip to the White House was within my first week of the program and my first story assignment. I remember feeling as though the universe was telling me, “Welcome to Washington, yes, you’re really here.” President Barack Obama announced the creation of Promise Zones in five U.S. cities, one being San Antonio, which is where I attended high school. It was great to hear about changes happening in my city.
On the Hill, I attended several hearings and one that stood out to me covered the effects of solitary confinement. Testifying was Damon Thibodeaux, a man who was placed in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for 15 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He spoke on how dangerous it was that he never received any therapy before or after he was released back into the public. He saw men lose their minds from a lack of mental stimulation.
Another witness who testified was Piper Kerman, the author of Orange is the New Black, which is a book and now Netflix show based on her experience in an all-women’s prison. She gave the women’s perspective of how prison guards abused their power over them. A viewer of the show, hearing her story in-person was very powerful.
Another memorable story was when I covered a snowman competition on a frosty day. I trekked out to Dupont Circle with my camera equipment, layers of clothing, hand warmers and rain gear into the deserted and snowy streets. I expected to see a crowd of children at site but the participants of the contest were all adults. They were outside on their day off decorating snowmen in tutus, bikinis, fedoras, political signs and more.
Even though I was balancing keeping the camera equipment dry and trying to prevent my own body from freezing, the positive energy from the participants helped make a cold situation warmer. Reporting on this story taught me how important it is to smile and be a kid every once in a while and see the silver lining in a cold situation.
These are just a few of the impacting moments I’ve had in Washington. I could write a whole book elaborating on more. Coming to Washington for a semester was one of the best opportunities I have been granted and I am incredibly grateful. I learned more and grew more than I ever imagined.
I'm nervous about leaving because I'm headed into the "unknown," aka, the world of post-grad. But I'm excited because ventured into the unknown 14 weeks ago and it truly paid off.