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Callie Wendell: The DC Experience

After living and breathing in Washington D.C. for the past two months, I have come to my final week in this great city. This week has been a very sweet and sour week for me. As much as I am ready to go home and see friends and family again I am going to miss Washington D.C. and all of the things I have learned here. There have been probably three major aspects of growth while in the city. First, my work with CER along with my interactions with TFAS (The Fund for American Studies) has helped fully shape my beliefs in politics. Everything I have heard and learned I have questioned and analyzed; as a result, I have been able to gain a fuller understanding of the policy realm along with some specific polices such as education policy and what my beliefs are regarding both.

The second aspect of growth I attained while in D.C. was the ability to survive in the real world. Before coming to D.C. I never had to buy groceries and make meals because I still live on a college campus back home. CER was my first full time job/ internship. Often times in the beginning of the summer I questioned whether or not I could survive this real world experience. In the end, I not only survived it, but learned that it isn’t as bad and scary as I thought it would be. CER provided me with a nice transition to the real world. The working environment was fantastic and I was able to work with a great group of people who understood that this was a completely new experience for me.

Probably the biggest impact this summer has had on me was how these experiences have shaped what I want to do after college and my personal and professional growth in that area. I came into college as a History and Citizenship Education major and over the past three years that has grown to me graduating next spring with a B.A. in History, a B.A. in Political Science and a certification to teach Citizenship Education. With more degrees come more options, which, for me, meant I questioned what I wanted to do with after college because I now had so many options. After my experience in D.C. and specifically with CER I have learned that I am a hands-on person who enjoys interacting with people and educating. That does not necessarily mean teaching in the traditional manner but educating people about policy or about important issues. CER opened my eyes to the variety of ways you can educate people. One of the major ways CER does this is through the Media BullPen. Although I have loved working with this sector of CER and fully support what they are doing, I have learned that I am more the type of person who wants to be involved directly with a group of people and tell them important information.

Although this doesn’t necessarily give me a specific career goal it does help me narrow down my options. My passion for education and education policy has only grown at CER. I now know with certainty that education is my passion. Overall my experience in our nation’s capital has helped me grow professionally and personally and I could not be more grateful for all the opportunities I have been provided with here.

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