Last week I applied for graduation. Cue the dramatic music.
The last four years I have been counting down to the distant month of May 2014, but now it’s creeping up on me. Friday, I received a certificate congratulating me that my business minor is complete. My degree audit shows that I am 100 percent finished with my studies. None of these announcements surprised me, but seeing them on paper was still surreal.
Despite feeling nervous, fearful and excited, witnessing my college career coming to a close makes me feel even more fortunate that I am spending my final semester in Washington.
This week I attended events in Washington that I would never be able to attend anywhere else. A friend texted me to ask what my favorite part of living in Washington is so far, and I replied, the opportunities.
On Tuesday, I attended the President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, where I was surrounded by other established journalists. I even ended up sitting next to one from Texas. Last year when I was watching the address from home on TV, I would never have guessed I would be in the Capitol this year. Listening to the speech and live-tweeting it was invigorating and made the five-hour wait in the press gallery worth it!
The day after the State of the Union, I interviewed Andra Rush, an entrepreneurial business woman whom the president mentioned as an example in his speech and who sat with first lady Michelle Obama. After founding a successful trucking company, Rush opened Detroit Manufacturing Systems Ltd. in 2012. After its first year of operations, the company became the largest manufacturing employer in the city in decades, providing jobs for hundreds of unemployed people. After talking with her, I understand why she was chosen to represent an example of hard work and determination.
This week I also attended a hearing that addressed concerns with sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. Representatives and charities discussed strategies to combat the sex trade while Holly Smith, a victim of child sex trafficking, spoke about education tools that can prevent experiences like hers. I admire both women’s stories and couldn’t help but feel inspired.
Access to these exclusive stories represents how education goes so much further than the classroom.
Although my semester will also be filled with the anxiety of submitting job applications, scheduling graduation photos and ordering my cap and gown, having this experience in Washington away from the routine of campus life is a relief. I know my time in Washington is one of the best ways to develop skills necessary for the post-grad world, no matter how unsure I may feel at times. I’m ready!