Semester in Washington: Part 1

It has been exactly one month since I arrived in Washington, D.C. for the Washington Semester Program. There are 16 of us from Holy Cross living in the Meridian Apartments at Pentagon City. One of my favorite parts about the program so far is hearing highlights from all 15 other students who are at varying internship sites. My direct suitemates, for instance, are interning at Flywheel Government Solutions, the White House, and the Department of Education, respectively. I am interning at the Federalist Society, which is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to help educate law students, lawyers, and judges about the structure of our republican government; the separation of powers, the meaning of our written constitution, and the dangers of executive overreach.  

On the work front, I have been assigned only substantive projects. I have briefed many court cases, helped to author blog posts, and worked with special project staffs for upcoming Federalist Society events around Washington. From everything I have heard from the other students on the trips, their experiences have been equally substantive and engaging.

Of course, there’s lots to do in D.C. on the weekends. I have only begun to scratch the surface with regard to sightseeing. (It’s also very nice that many of the best sites are free!) So far I have seen a Washington Wizards basketball game, been to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art. I am planning on visiting the Arlington Cemetery soon, and later in February, I am taking a half-day at work and heading to the Supreme Court to hear a religious liberty case. With a little help from gracious Holy Cross alumni, each student has gotten a Metro Card subsidy, making getting around the city even easier than it otherwise would have been.

As if an internship in D.C. with time to sight see on the weekend weren’t enough, Holy Cross also works diligently  to ensure that we have the chance to meet with some of the school’s most distinguished (and welcoming) alumni while we are in the city. For instance, we went to the D.C. trial court to meet with Judge Richard Leon, who presides over the D.C. District Court. During our meeting he spoke of his time at Holy Cross, the events that steered him into the field of law, and some of his high profile cases, including his ruling that freed five Guantanamo Bay Prisoners due to insufficient evidence. Judge Leon is a gregarious man who entertained the group, but also took the time to hear where each and every one of us was from, what we did at our internship, and what our post-graduation plans were.

The week after, we met with Senator Bob Casey Jr. from Pennsylvania, who was equally as engaging and interested to hear our stories. In fact, Senator Casey was 20 minutes late to his next engagement because he made sure that he gave all 16 of us time to share a bit about our time in D.C. I am perhaps most excited to meet with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was classmates with Judge Leon. (The two remain close friends today.) After reading many of Justice Thomas’ opinions pursuant to my involvement in Holy Cross Moot Court, I am excited to meet him in real life. One truly does not know if Holy Cross will ever place another graduate on the Nation’s highest court, and as such, we are all very excited for the chance to him.

For those reading this blog and thinking, “Hey, this might be something I am interested in!” I highly encourage you to apply. There is no specific major, nor career aspiration, that makes a successful candidate. Instead, you simply have to be interested my some aspect of the Nation’s capital; be that public policy, politics, economics, health policy, law, education, nonprofit, social justice, and more. Though I still have two months left in the program, I can confidently say that these have been some of the most informative and fun weeks of my HC career. Oh, and one more thing: definitely go in four ways on a Costco card! Eating out in D.C. is expensive to say the least, and what better time to get better at shopping and cooking for one’s self? It’s even a little fun.






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