Civic Engagement; Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

This last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. With the Civic Leaders Licing Learning Community. Student living in the Civic Leaders community are often members of the School of Public and Envrionmental Affairs (SPEA) and are interested in civic leadership, government, public service, and working with non-profits. This trip was planned in order to connect students to the federal government, as well as to give them an opportunity to meet with alumni living in the DC area what hey could discuss their current positions and opportunities to work in and around the federal government.

On the first day of the trip we traveled as a group to the Executive Building where we received a brief tour and then met with the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and several other members of their staff to discuss issues related to Black Lives Matters, the US prison system, the Its On Us Campaing, and college affordability. After visiting the the Executive Building, we traveled as a group to the Russel Senate building where students met with alumni of SPEA at an engagement. At the end of the evening, students were given free time to explore DC on their own.

The second day we woke early to travel to the Supremem Court, where we took a tour of the building and then had the opportunity to sit in the courtroom of the Supreme Court and to learn about the history of the judicial branch. From there we crossed the street to the Capitol building, and met with an economist, an editor from the Atlantic, and an Indiana senator to discuss the current election and hot topics related to college students in the United States. Free time followed these great discussions, and then was finished with a dinner at The Monocole near Capitol Hill, where students were introduced to current participants in the Washington Leadership Program.

On our final day in DC, we began with a visit to the Newseum where students were able to visit the exhibits, and followed by free time until we returned to the busses in order to return to Bloomington.

Throughout this trip, I was able to hear students say “this is exactly what I want to do after school,” or, “I cant believe that this is something I could do through SPEA.” These comments are what truly mattered about this trip. Students were able to see what they could accomplish with their dedication to academics and collegiate success. And to see the looks on their faces as they were introduced to these new avenues for their future was truly inspiring. It is rare that you are able to see students go through experiences such as this, and even rarer to be able to support those students in a way that could push them to achieving their dreams. I am excited, and ever so fortunate, to be able to work with these students for the rest of the year.