Professional development, hearing the passionate and angry voices of our nation’s youth, and getting both lost and found on the Metro all encompassed a busy and enlightening trip in Washington, D.C. this weekend. For the four students in the Scots in Washington program, the quick weekend trip to D.C. was busy and showed the realities of living in the nation’s capital.
Scots in Washington is a brand new sector of the already existing MC in D.C. group. MC in D.C. is a group of alumni from Maryville College who have stayed connected through a Facebook page. Hailing from many different graduating classes, the alumni range from those who have graduated over a decade ago and those who are just finishing their first year of graduate school. Of the many members of MC in D.C., the three who helped make Scots in Washington happen are Marissa McInnis ’04, Robbie Champion ’09 and Chelsea Barker ’10.
Working with Christy McDonald and Sarah Yeaple Taylor in the Career Center, MC in D.C. brought Scots in Washington into existence, and we traveled to D.C. on March 22 and left March 25. The program’s mission is to give current Maryville College students the chance to see D.C. through the mentorship of an MC alum living in the city.
The two chaperones who accompanied us on our trip were Christy McDonald, Director of the Career Center and Mark O’Gorman, Associate Professor of Social Sciences.
Because D.C. has so much to offer from both the graduate school programs, career world and politics, each student on the trip was paired with either McInnis, Champion or Barker based on their post-graduation interests.
I am interested in event management, public relations and marketing, and I am mentored by Champion because she currently works on event building through volunteering for Junior Council at Children’s National Health System. Through her network, she was able to schedule three informational interviews for me: one with the Director of Development at Imagination Stage, another with the Connectivity Fellow at Woolly Mammoth Theatre and the third was with the Vice President for Conference Development at the American Association for Life Insurers. Through mine and the other students interviews, we all learned about the different work and graduate opportunities in D.C.
The most important factor I think we all learned from the trip was networking. In D.C., it is so common to meet with fellow professionals in your field for a cup of coffee or happy hour. Learning how to talk about who you are, what you are interested in and what you want is the key to being and knowing successful people in D.C.
After Friday’s interviews, the students, mentors and chaperones had a tourist day. Thanks to McInnis’ connections for passes, we started with a White House tour in the morning and a lovely D.C. brunch after.
The White House was right in the beginning of where the March for Our Lives was taking place, and even though the March wasn’t scheduled until 12:00 p.m., we saw protesters lining up with signs as early as 9:00 a.m.
During brunch, we discussed our plan for keeping together during the March, which somehow humorously turned into giving aliases for our chaperones, which included #ProtestMom for McInnis and her backpack of snacks and advice, #GrammarGirl for McDonald and her appreciation for some of the punctuation on the signs and #ActivistUncle, a personal favorite, for O’Gorman.
After a fun and memorable brunch, we picked up our posters and joined the 800,000 people in the March. I have never encountered crowds as big as that before, and there were times that it felt like I could hardly breathe. Thankfully though, we had seasoned D.C. residents with us who knew how to navigate us as close as possible to the front.
Joining the angry signs there were sarcastic and humorous signs, some of the more notable being the “Gays Against Guns” tent where pink and rainbow clad protesters held up signs that said “Sashay Away the NRA!” Other more somber and thought-provoking ones were held by kids sitting on parents’ shoulders. In a children’s penmanship the signs read “I want to be safe in school” and “books not bullets.”
Among the thousands of people who marched and joined in solidarity with the victims of school shootings, the most profound moment was when Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivor Emma Gonzalez stood and gave a 6 minute and 20 second moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the 6 minute and 20 second Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.
It was a profound and historical moment to be a part of the March for Our Lives, and I’m so proud that there was a crowd from Maryville College showing their support.
After the March, we did typical D.C. tourist things from visiting the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery to walking almost 10 miles in a day.
The day we left, we took one last group photo on the Mall at sunrise, bid D.C. farewell and packed up back to Maryville.
All in all, Scots in Washington was a fantastic trip, and I think all involved, from students to mentors to chaperones, had a great time. I learned so much, and I thank the MC in D.C. and Career Center so much for all their help in making this happen.