Kalissa Holdcraft ’13, Keyes Fellow in Urban Policy Development
The final week! My swan song! I can’t believe it’s actually over, but at least I went out with a bang! This week was full of charity, politics, and historical moments. I think that’s a great way to leave a place like DC.
The last Monday! I was extremely excited because Monday night was the Friends of Ballou Scholarship Awards Ceremony. Friends of Ballou is an organization that assists students of Ballou High School, which is a DC area public high school. Friends of Ballou convenes private and public representatives to fund scholarships for graduating seniors each year. During the day I had to finish my article and prepare for my meeting with Congressman Loebsack. As soon as Mr. Gatton edited and suggested changes to my article, I fixed everything and hit submit. After doing some more fact finding and printing off way too many handouts to narrow down tomorrow, I exited the building with to attend the event at a law firm downtown. This event reminded me why education reform is so important to me. These students were the best and brightest of the high school. One young man was the first in 3 generations of his family to graduate high school. It was certainly a different world. My boss has an amazing way of impressing upon me the importance of giving back. Regardless of what I want to do, he tries to put everything into perspective. We also had an amazing chat about Cornell and the liberal arts on the way back from the ceremony.
On Tuesday, I could barely think. I spent the entire day preparing for my meeting with Representative Loebsack on Wednesday. I did some minor editing for the US Mayors Newspaper articles. That’s about it.
Wednesday was the day! My morning consisted of a lot of last minute research that was completely unnecessary for my meeting at noon with Congressman Loebsack. To say that I was nervous is a gross understatement. At about 11:20 we headed down to grab a taxi to Longworth, one of the three buildings that house representatives; the senators have larger buildings in a different area. We took the elevator up to the fifth floor and stood out in the hallway, as we still had about 20 minutes until the appointment. Dave and I just chatted about any number of news stories we had read that day. After about 15 minutes a man walked by and said hello. What do you know! It was Congressman Loebsack. We followed him into the office and told the staffer at the desk we were here for an appointment. I began describing the resolution (I had put together a folder with all pertinent documents for him to review later. After about 15 – 20 minutes of chatting and a quick picture, we were out. It was not so awful, but I could have been a little more confident. I honestly don’t remember anything else that happened today after the meeting. I know that I worked on tying up loose ends, as tomorrow morning is my LAST day at work, not to mention the healthcare ruling will be released shortly after 10 AM.
Well… I’m done. I feel like I’ve finished a marathon. It’s crazy how although I feel as if I’ve been in DC forever, my time here has flown by. My final day at work (it was only the morning) consisted of cleaning out my desk, mailing packages, and making sure that everything I was in charge of was complete. And oh yeah, that little Supreme Court ruling on healthcare was released. I actually felt like I was a part of history, being in DC at the moment it happened. My co-workers and I gathered in my boss’ office to listen to the radio and talk about the ruling. After busy-work and discussion, my boss invited me into the office for our “exit interview”. He essentially asked me how I felt about the experience and what I learned. After pausing a moment, the lessons just began pouring out of my mouth. I never really stopped to consider how much I truly gained from this experience. Aside from the sheer amount of research and new topics that I was exposed to through my boss’s incessant requests for information (something I love!), I definitely have a new-found respect for local governance and the role of mayors and cities. Despite the economic downturn and lack of ANYTHING at the federal level, cities have moved forward with innovative plans and projects. It was definitely something I had never considered, being from small towns. What mayors of large cities are able to do is amazing. We also reviewed everything I had worked on during my time at the Conference. I could literally talk to Dave for days, so we just kept chatting about my future plans and everything else. After the “interview” we got ready to join the rest of the office and walk to a really great seafood restaurant for my goodbye lunch. The lunch was perfect. After that I turned in my key and headed to pack up my DC life.