One Fellow’s Transformative Semester in D.C.

By Jonathan Mangrum

Jonathan (a Georgia College & State University student) is a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow spending the semester in D.C. participating in the Leadership and the American Presidency Program after receiving a scholarship from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute through the fellowship.


I just returned home from Washington, D.C. where I spent four months interning, studying, and learning as a part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s Leadership and the American Presidency Program. I expected to leave the program with one direction for my career, but instead, I left with many directions. I thought I wanted to join the Foreign Service of the State Department, but I had no idea about the world of opportunities I would discover this semester. Now, I can see myself working in a consulting or lobbying firm, think tank, government agency, or even a nonprofit. I left my teachers, my internship, and my friends to return home with a lesson from each. My teachers from this semester showed me how Washington operates. My internship at the Millennial Action Project showed me that I would love to work in domestic politics just as much as international affairs. And all the friends from my program showed me that people make experiences valuable. This semester was all about opportunity—to meet professionals, to make friends from all over the world, and connect to the lifestyle of a city I might live in one day.

One day, I see myself again working in Washington. It seems that the city has a momentum of its own with so many business suits, dresses, and briefcases. Marble structures tower above at every turn in areas, while glass office buildings reflect a city in motion. Washington churns out news stories like nothing I have ever seen, and I lived amid it all. As I turned the corner on my way home each night in Eastern Market, I would look a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the middle of the city to see the sun setting behind the Capitol dome. Even on my last night in D.C., it looked more like a mirage than reality. The sights, sounds, and experiences would have amounted to much less without the people around me along the way. I could not have received a better introduction to the city with such an incredible group of future lawyers, diplomats, representatives, and an astronaut in my program, who I now proudly call my friends.

I am grateful to The Fund for American Studies who partners with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute (RRPFI) to make the Leadership and the American Presidency program possible. RRPFI and Campus Compact selected me for one of two full scholarships to participate, and I could not have done it without them. I know the past few months has changed my trajectory, and I want any college student reading this to have the same opportunity. If you are reading this because you want to know more, I want to hear from you. Find me on Facebook, or reach out to Campus Compact to get connected.

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