As Promised

As Promised

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen... the speech. I was nominated to speak at commencement and my audition was a speech. THE speech that I would give that day, were I to be selected. Obviously, from my last blog you know I wasn't, but this speech actually became the starting point for my capstone reflection paper that every TWC-er must write at the end of the semester. You look back on your semester and think, "Wow!" But I'll let you read about it... here we go!


THE Speech

“You can sleep when you’re dead… don’t waste time.” Those are the words of advice given to this very group of students the first day here by The Washington Center’s president, Mike Smith. As we round out our last of fifteen weeks here in Washington, I wonder how many of you took Mr. Smith’s advice.


Did you take advantage of every opportunity at your internship, staying late and arriving early when needed? Initiating projects and sharing ideas to show off your skills in your field? Did you go to happy hour to meet new people and network despite those long days at work? Did you stay up late with your roommates, friends, colleagues, and classmates, adventuring in the city or even just chillin’ in your apartment having a good time? Think back on the past semester, did you make your time here worth it?


I have to say, I didn’t think too consciously about making the best of my time here. It kind of just happened. I took on projects at work like finishing the development of Genocide Watch’s new website and YouTube channel. I designed a unique self-guided Civic Engagement Project working with the Urban Debate League of Washington, D.C., to fit my passion for public speaking and education and build confidence in urban youth. I visited Capitol Hill for a Public Policy Dialogue with Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ), during which I discussed pressing issues of student loans and gun control. And through all of this I managed to stay involved and connected with my university back home. I traveled with Monmouth’s teams to Rome for a model United Nations conference and to Baltimore for the mock trial regional tournament.


Looking back on my experiences, I think it is interesting that I did not comprehend exactly how much I was doing and growing as a person as I went through the process. Only when I look back on the experience does it really hit me. And now that it has hit me, I can’t stop thinking about what I might qualify as the best semester of my life.


I’d be lying if I said everything I did here was one hundred percent fun and I never did anything I didn’t like. Writing resumes and cover letters? Not my favorite. How about waking up at 6:45 every morning because I have about a 40-minute commute to work? I’d rather wake when the sun has already risen. But when I look back on the whole Washington Center semester, the good far outweighs the bad, and a lot of good comes from that “bad.” I think it’s safe to say that because of all this, we’ve all grown: professionally, academically, civically, and socially… in every way really.


The large majority of us are not from around here, and many of you come from international locations. What’s great is that there are many moments that you can only have here in D.C. Moments that for me I know I’ll always remember and that will affect me for the rest of my life. Meeting U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during my Capitol Hill visit, when she actually thanked our group for sending Congressman Andrews to D.C. to represent our district. And there’s that time my fellow interns and I escaped the office to chase after what we thought was President Obama’s motorcade in Arlington – turns out it was actually Vice President Biden’s. There are also the stories I’ve heard from genocide survivors from Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Burundi, Rwanda – stories that I know I’ll never forget. Stories that will affect the work I do forever. My list goes on.


What I really am getting at is that all of these experiences will carry me through my future endeavors and motivate me to become someone more than I could have imagined myself to be in New Jersey. Being in Washington, D.C. has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities for my future. I hope that it has done the same for you. If you think it hasn’t, I challenge you to really reflect on your time here and ask yourself if you’re really the same person you were fifteen weeks ago.


We are the generation put in a tricky place as we take over the lead of our respective countries to build a global community. Many places across the globe aren’t doing so well right now, but we have the chance to change that. I think that being here in D.C. is such a good step for all of us to becoming the next generation of leaders, innovators, change-makers. So take what you’ve gained from the past fifteen weeks, and put it to the test. As you head out of D.C. back to your homes, gather your friends and meet with your government leaders across the globe. Let them know what you’re thinking. Work in your local community to aid domestic violence victims, youth struggling with education, and animals facing abuse.


Whatever it is that you do, do something. Don’t let this experience and this time go to waste."



I Kept My Promise (Cue Kleenex Here)

I kept it to you... by letting you read this speech. I also kept it to myself. See, at the beginning of this semester I promised myself that I wasn't going to go home every weekend or weep over lost experiences at Monmouth University. I promised myself I wouldn't be homesick, that I'd be strong. Folks... it was NOT easy. I'd see my friends from Monmouth posting on Facebook and Twitter about the awesome times and events they were having. I missed out on the biggest event that Hawk TV, the university TV station that I used to run, puts on each year. I missed not one, not two, not even just three, but FOUR awards ceremonies at the end of this final semester as a Monmouth Hawk - ceremonies at which I was recognized. My friends texted me and sent me videos of the Dean of my school giving a speech about me. They let me know I'd won a huge award at the Communication Awards Banquet (though I still don't know what it is... cause I wasn't there... WOMP). I cried. I won't lie. I'm not a crier but it was hard to miss all of this! That being said, I don't regret a SINGLE SECOND of this experience or of my decision to stay until the very end and miss those ceremonies. D.C. has been life changing, if you couldn't tell from my speech. And now I'm just excited for the next phase of life.

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