DC: Policy beyond the Classroom by Jennifer Wong

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The Washington Semester program is a great program to supplement a major in PPD. Being in Washington, D.C., the center of our nation’s policymaking, is to really be completely surrounded by our area of study. Concepts and themes from PPD classes like “Government and Business,” “Citizenship and Public Ethics,” “Public Policy and Planning Analysis,” and even “Urban Planning and Development” are relevant and experienced on a daily basis. From questioning the ethics behind government interns attending protests, to writing memos for my internship, to severe planning issues with the Metro system (check out @UnsuckDCMetro on Twitter), the things that I have learned in the classroom at USC are all clearly in action in DC.

Being in DC has also equipped me with tools that are not necessarily accessible at USC. First off, I am approximately 700% more informed about politics than I was before coming to DC. This may be due to the overall crazy 2016 election, or that no one is able to escape the overwhelming amount of news coming from the election, but DC has keyed me into a world of politics that I had never fully experienced before. When conversations in and out of the classroom are dominated by politics and what is happening in the world, you have to keep up to continue to be a part of it. Crazy events, like the passing of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, rock DC immediately and it feels like the entire city is literally bursting with the news.

On the other hand, DC has also given me opportunities that just are not available in Los Angeles. Through my internship, I was able to help staff a Hillary for President fundraising event. I have been given the opportunity to listen to and meet with Senators like Cory Booker, Jeanne Shaheen, and Kristen Gillibrand. At the end of the semester, we are going to have a personal forum with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These are opportunities unique to DC, and it has been a really special privilege to be here during the 2016 election cycle.

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Wong, pictured above with fellow student (left) and Senator Cory Booker (right)


More about Jennifer:

Major: Policy, Planning and Development (Track: Health Policy)

Favorite class and why: The Disruption of the Legislative Process in the 2016 Election. This class focuses on the interaction between the 2016 election and the legislative process, and most importantly, how it has been disrupted. This is my favorite class because on a weekly basis we are able to analyze every step of the election as it happens in real time. No one, including our professors, had anticipated the circus that the 2016 election has become, and it is fascinating to get a glimpse into what seasoned DC insiders think of the races.

Internship site: Berger Hirschberg Strategies

What has surprised you about DC? Sunday Brunch is serious business. Freezing weather or not.

What do you hope to accomplish before leaving DC? I want to be less intimidated by networking, and I want to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll.


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