An update from Derek, a junior CCPA major:

As the plane landed, I prepared myself for the ensuing experience. I had little idea of what to expect from a five-day, inside look at life on Capitol Hill or simply the Hill. However, I did know that I love Washington, D.C. Since this was not my first trip to the nation’s capital, I was eager to see a different side of the city.

I grabbed my luggage, proceeded to the Metro station and embarked on my journey. The experience was unlike any other visit to D.C. I noticed men and women dressed in business attire who scurried about the city. Everyone appeared to have an agenda or a task to complete.

Next, I overheard conversations on the street – not the usual topics such as sports, entertainment or the latest blockbuster film. Instead, I heard people discuss foreign policy, the new Supreme Court justice appointment, and peace talks in the Middle East. The people of D.C. had made news cool again. It is very difficult to be in this city and not stay current on what is happening in the world. Furthermore, staying up to date allows one to communicate and have challenging interactions. That is part of the D.C. experience.

DC3.jpg As a communications student, I have found it interesting to learn about the different ways people communicate on the Hill. I once believed that the only way to be involved with politics was to work directly with senators and representatives. After hearing from the Glover Park Group, I realized that public relations and advertising play a dramatic role in politics. Certain interest groups may ask a PR firm to help develop suitable language to present legislation or policies to the general public. It is a business that all works together to achieve a common goal.

(In photo: CCPA Assistant Professor Dan Schill with students at the Library of Congress.)

I often speak about the air of sophistication that the city exudes. It is unlike any other place in the world. One may wonder the source of such sophistication. D.C. boasts a metropolitan district, with young citizens and a high turnover rate attributes. Many people begin their careers here in entry-level positions as a way to get their foot in the door. After that, people work their way up to better positions and new jobs.

We were fortunate enough to hear from speakers who all agree that it is easy to work one’s way up to a great position with hard work. Students who dream to move to D.C. after graduation do so because they want to make a difference in an exciting way. Washington does not allow one to enter with an attitude of elitism or entitlement. Instead, it is a city that will humble and motivate one to work hard.

Each of my D.C. experiences has been vastly different. However, this experience with Hilltop on the Hill has given me a new perspective on politics and how communication affects it. Furthermore, I understand that a little hard work goes a long way.

I do not know whether I will end up on the Hill, but I do know that my involvement with politics is just beginning. I am grateful for this program allowing me the opportunity to learn that the journey to the Hill is full of learning, hard work and persistence.