A Postcard From: Rina Patel ’18

img_1526Name: Rina Patel

Year: 2018

Major: Growth and Structure of Cities, Minors: Political Science and Environmental Studies

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going.

This summer has been a blast! I have the honor of being a 2016 Scholar of the Washington Leadership Program (WLP) for South Asian American students. This program selects 10 students every year to participate in Federal Internships to encourage members of our community to enter Public service. My Placement through WLP was at the U.S Department of Education, Office of the Secretary.

Finishing my last week of the WLP experience there was a lot to reflect on. For me in particular, my biggest takeaway from this summer is that my faith in the system has been restored. I’m not 100% sure what I was expecting going into this summer. I had done an externship through Bryn Mawr on Capitol Hill this winter and was not really convinced I was supposed to come back to DC this year. I saw the frustration and pain the Congresswoman’s office had because it felt there was a lot of hurdles to the change we wanted to achieve.

A photo taken when some interns snuck into the secretary’s conference room.

A photo taken when some interns snuck into the secretary’s conference room.

However, being at the U.S Department of Education reminded me about what it means to be part of a larger mission. I’ve never been in an office that is full of people so dedicated to ensuring there is a better future and better opportunities for our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Additionally, I have never been in an office as diverse as the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Education. Very often DC is portrayed as an old man’s club where gridlock on the hill prevents real change from happening. What interning at ED has shown me and taught me is that real change still happens in DC, and that there are people dedicated to finding solutions and serving as much as they can.

Another big reflection I was having this final week has to do with how lucky this class of WLP was to have the opportunity to serve in this administration during its final summer. We got to witness how much goes into final efforts for change before the administration switches out, or in EDs case might not even return. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain This summer has just been filled with such meaningful opportunities and I will always be grateful to WLP for the opportunity to immerse ourselves in public service and for LILAC for making it possible for me to take advantage of this.

The 2016 WLP scholars with the Honorable Judge Srinivasan, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of the highest positions to be held by a South Asian America, he also is one of the only appointees to have been confirmed by the senate almost unanimously at 97-0.

The 2016 WLP scholars with the Honorable Judge Srinivasan, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of the highest positions to be held by a South Asian America, he also is one of the only appointees to have been confirmed by the senate almost unanimously at 97-0.

My signed photo with Secretary John King.

My signed photo with Secretary John King.

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