My Semester In D.C.

April 25, 2017

By Melissa Rohman

As I write this last column, my last ever piece for The Dominican Star, I can’t help but look out the window of my Arlington apartment and smile. The skies are foggy and grey, but the beautiful greenery decorating the streets below makes up for it. When I first came to D.C. in January for my internship at the American Heart Association, those exact same trees were bare to the bone. I’ve been able to see them persevere through winter (although winter this year in D.C. didn’t even happen), blossom and bloom, and finally grow back their leaves. It may be a cheesy thing to contemplate about, but the trees changing reminds me of how much I have grown and changed during my own time here on this adventure. Last December I accepted an internship for my spring semester and that’s exactly what I got. But I also got so much more. I somewhat expected that though with being away from home for three and a half months, experiencing my first professional internship, and navigating and exploring a new city like D.C., a city very different from Chicago.  But, with new experiences comes change, and in my case I have changed for the better and have learned and seen so much and have met a plethora of amazing people.

All in all, I enjoyed my internship with the American Heart Association. I was their marketing and communications intern, as I’ve mentioned in previous columns, and have had the opportunity to work with a great team of passionate and hardworking people who support a great mission of keeping the world free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. I’ve always considered working for a non-profit and my experience at AHA has shown me how an NGO succeeds because of teamwork and hard work. My responsibilities as an intern were extensive; I created social media content, wrote stories about survivors of heart disease and stroke and about government advocacy initiatives lobbied by AHA, attended galas and fundraising events, visited TV news stations and was able to see interviews and segments be produced supporting AHA, and much more. This internship never had me fetching coffee for anyone. I did that for myself plenty of times and for that I’m grateful. I was given real work and received real experience. In turn, I learned what I like, what I don’t, and what I want to do after graduation, which is pursue writing and journalism professionally.

That’s another thing about this internship experience. I learned more about myself than any college class could have taught me. You learn the best by being exposed to the world around you. In all honesty, I feel that my semester in D.C. has allowed me to become stronger, more confident, and more prepared for graduation and my journey ahead than if I were to have stayed at Dominican this semester. A special shout out to Sister Melissa, because the day that I transferred to Dominican my sophomore year, she has always believed that I could succeed by doing this internship program and going to D.C. If you’re reading this Sister Melissa, thank you for all your love and support throughout this whole process.  

So I end with this: In exactly one week from today, Saturday, I will be hopping on a plane to fly back home to Chicago and then jump right into preparing for graduation. I’m bittersweet but I’m ready for the next chapter to come and so excited to go home. Although my journey ahead seems as grey and foggy right as the sky this Saturday morning, it will be clear and I can’t wait to continue working hard to pursue writing, journalism, and adventure.