First Week in Washington: A Fellow’s perspective on the Leadership and the American Presidency Program

January 25, 2017

 First Week in Washington

By Jonathan Mangrum

Jonathan Mangrum is a student at Georgia College and State University, who through an application process open to 2016 Newman Civic Fellows was awarded a full scholarship to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Leadership and the American Presidency program. Through the program participants define and strengthen their leadership skills and learn lessons from the American Presidency, all while gaining an insider’s view of Washington D.C. Throughout the semester participants take classes, intern, and attend special program events with prominent public leaders.

I’ve made my way to Washington, D.C. and settled down in my apartment where I will be staying for the semester. I was already able to witness a bit of history by attending President Trump’s inauguration this past Friday. On Monday I started my internship as the Millennial Action Project’s Policy Intern, where I will help create daily news briefings and contribute to ongoing legislative research, among other tasks. This is also my first week of classes, and so far I have met two of my four professors, one of which worked in President Trump’s transition team, and the other a media expert who helped found USA Today. All my professors stand in front of unique and vastly different experiences and careers, so I have plenty to learn from them all.

I will have much of Wednesday to sight-see, so hopefully I’ll get to go to a few of the museums and places on my to-see list. It’s overwhelming to plan to do everything I want to do, but I am in no place to complain one bit. Outside of cooking in my kitchen at home, I have found good food in the area from a welcoming Mexican restaurant to a couple different burger n’ bar restaurants. The group of student interns who live in my building have stuck together like family so far. We all went through Union Station, and then a tour guide took us through the city a bit. We got to see and hear about some of the city’s history, take a group picture with a giant Einstein statue, and see (and sit in) the exact pew in St. John’s Episcopal Church where every president since James Madison has sat during services.

This past weekend I joined the Women’s March on Washington along with an estimated 500,000 others. I passed by Maryland House Representative Jamie Raskin and got a picture in front of his group. Earlier in the day a man patted me on the shoulder and thanked me for attending. I replied, “No problem,” and as I looked up I saw it was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. I participated in the March because this election cycle has shown clear and deep divides in the United States. I marched in solidarity with so many to show that I hear them and support their cries for equality and Constitutional rights. Living in Washington puts me in the middle of a game of tug-of-war that pulls in at least fifty directions, but I can’t get enough of all the activity and opportunities around here, and I can’t wait to throw myself even deeper into it all.

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