It’s morning in Washington, D.C. I take a deep breath in through my nose, pause, and exhale. “Do you smell that?” I say to one of our students. There’s something different about the air here. They smile in agreement. Anyone near our group, especially fellow metro travelers, must be able to sense the excitement and anxiousness. The students’ energy levels are soaring and their eyes are bright with anticipation.
This will be my third Hilltop on the Hill trip, and each time is more exciting and meaningful than the last. I went on the trip as an undergraduate when I wanted to find out what kind of communications jobs and career routes were out there. The next year, as a senior, I went as Dr. Rita Kirk’s teaching assistant so that I could experience the city one more time and make up my mind as to whether or not I was really going to make the move across the country. That trip sealed the deal. I caught the bug. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else after graduation, and so I went.
A year or two later when I was working in D.C. at the Glover Park Group, I hosted the Hilltop on the Hill group at my place of work, and also got to talk with students at the alumni roundtables and mixers. I’m still in touch with many of those students today, like my dear friend Roza. Now, I’m on the trip once again, but this time as one of their group leaders. I think that means I’ve officially come full circle.
This year, the schedule is stacked. This select group of eight communications students will be meeting SMU alumni and friends all over the city from the public and private sectors. We’ll go to CNN, Edelman, ExxonMobil, Glover Park Group, Dept of Health and Human Services, 21st Century Group, Senator John Cornyn’s office and the Center for Public Integrity. Did I mention the alumni mixers? This is not a trip for the faint of heart. This is a fast-paced, head-snapping, four-day, behind-the-scenes view of one of the greatest and most influential cities in the world. I can’t wait to see which of our students will catch “the bug” and decide that they, too, will go to work in Washington and that absolutely nothing else will do.