Aspiring politician witnesses history, finds second home in Washington
"This past semester, I've participated in a Presidential Inauguration, witnessed the Senate vote for Secretary of State, and rallied at the steps of the Supreme Court in support of a landmark case for gay rights. It's been an incredible semester and after making the decision to stay, I can't wait to see what the summer holds!!"
That's how Evelyn Clark's Facebook status read three weeks before the end of her semester in Washington, D.C. Clark, just a sophomore, spent the spring 2013 semester interning in the office of Virginia's senior senator, Mark Warner, while participating in Roanoke College's Washington Semester Program.
"Mark Warner's absolutely incredible," Clark said. "He's got a really great staff."
Clark said she really feels a part of the team, answering constituent calls, writing memos and doing research for Warner's legislative correspondents and aides. One task Clark took on for Warner's staff was analyzing the effects immigration reform would have Virginia's agriculture industry.
"It's not just typical intern work," she said. "We're actually in there helping."
Clark's favorite memory of her time in Washington is witnessing the Senate vote that would confirm Sen. John Kerry as Secretary of State. After the vote, Clark took the subway that carries Congressional members and staffers between buildings at the Capitol complex, back to her office in the Russell Senate Building. Kerry, whose Senate office was in Russell, also happened to be on board the same subway. "I got to congratulate him in person," she said excitedly.
As a person who likes to be busy, the Washington Semester Program was right up Clark's alley. She works four days a week at her internship while completing the coursework and volunteerism also required of Washington Semester students. She even got a part-time job.
Clark wrote that Facebook post on the day she accepted another internship, this time for the summer months, with Freedom to Marry, a nonprofit working for equal marriage rights. Her experience with the Washington Semester Program paved the way for her to spend even more time in a city where she is finding a second home.
"I've really grown to love the city and the people," she said.
Clark, who plans to attend law school after graduating from Roanoke, said she wants to work in politics and someday run for office.
"It's emotional for me," she said of her time in D.C. "It's been incredible to see history."
-Traci Crockett '01