Happy Spring 2014 Commencement!

I have decided to start with the good news:

Surprise! I am staying in DC for the summer! It is an honor to have been chosen to participate in the Office of Senator Marco Rubio's Summer 2014 Internship Program! I have officially moved into my new apartment on Capitol Hill and I am looking forward to an exciting summer.


Warning: Read at your own risk, this might get emotional.

When I woke up this morning, my room was empty and I was surrounded by cardboard boxes. My roommates were nowhere to be found and nearly instantaneously it hit me. I was no longer at the RAF, but the real world, outside of The Washington Center. All I wanted to do was run into my roommate Nikki's room and ask her what I should wear today, and say, "Are you sure my makeup looks okay?" But sure enough, I got ready on my own, with nothing to aid me but our group text message. It is so strange to think that in only 24 hours I went from living in an apartment surrounded by my closest friends, to waking up in my own room, completely alone. I could practically here Lauren's voice in the back of my head saying, "Get up Rachael; positive things only happen to positive people." Well, I'm sorry, Lauren, but I decided to snooze my alarm and go back to sleep. I am so glad that I did because when I woke up I realized that my spring semester at The Washington Center had officially ended, and I am now begining a new chapter of my life with more positivity and persistence than ever.


Thinking back on the past semester I cannot help but wonder to myself, how did I get so lucky? I came to DC with nothing but a few suitcases and a list of goals that I wanted to try and achieve. Although I am not leaving DC, I am leaving The Washington Center with far more than I ever imagined. The various mentors that I have developed relationships with through TWC have inspired me to stop at nothing in pursuit of my dreams, and I could not be more thankful for this kind of support. In particular, I would like to thank Ms. Pilar Mendiola Fernandez, Professor Robert Henderson, Professor Kamal Beyoghlow, Mr. Fair Kim, Mr. David Slavick, Ms. Tiffani Toston, Ms. Jung Ran Lim and Mr. Jacob Wilson. Each of you have contributed to my growth, be it academic, personal, or professional, and I truly appreciate your words of wisdom.


I am honored to have received the Academic and Professional Achievement Pillar Award.



Words cannot express my genuine gratitude, as I was not expecting to win such an incredible award. The words written on this piece of paper speak more eloquently than I could have ever imagined. To whoever nominated me for this award, please know that I appreciate your belief in my future, not only in the legal and professional realm, but in my personal and globally minded pursuits as well.


When I came to The Washginton Center I definitely wanted to make friends, but I had no idea that the caliber of friends that I would make would be as impressive and genuine as the ones that I am walking away with. I am leaving TWC with a multitude of close friends from not only the United States, but from Belgium, Brazil, Korea, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. I had no idea how close two gals could get in only four months, but I am so fortunate to have met one of my best friends here as well. I could not be more grateful to have developed such an incredible friendship with her, one that I believe will truly last a lifetime.


Lauren and me at the White House Gardens


Prior to Commencement, I spent long nights in the stairwell at the RAF singing, and singing until my voice was sore. Luckily, I had the privilege of singing with three of my friends, who were each incredibly talented in their own regard. As Jeff said/rapped: We came here with a dream to be all that we could be...TWC a part of you and me...all around the world from different countries, worked so hard and yeah...

Anyways, TWC truly would not have been the same without these lovely people.


From Left: Nikki, Me, Jeff and Karly


When I initially said that I am leaving The Washington Center with far more than I had ever imagined, I was not exaggerating. Coming to DC from Florida, I was expecting to be one of the only Floridians. In fact, I envisioned myself being surrounded by a bunch of 'northerners.' However, during the second week of the program, I was in the elevator with none other than a fellow Floridian. We had never met, but conversed about how we were both from Florida, and both involved in Greek Life at our respective schools. It turned out that he and I lived across the hall from each other in the RAF. Despite our different program schedules and academic interests, we became close friends. Now, four months later, there is no denying that the unexpected has occurred. I am grateful to The Washington Center for assigning William and me to our respective apartments, because without the RAF, who knows if we would have ever even met.


Surprise: We just might be dating...


William and me at Commencement


In one semester at The Washington Center I have learned what it is like to work all day and night, but still come up short. I have learned that losing is more difficult when the prize is a cause you believe in. And I have learned that in the end, life is not all about the grade you are assigned, but instead the one that you assign yourself. Well, maybe I am just a biased grader, but I've decided to give myself an A for this semester. By all means, it was not entirely perfect, but in my mind, it was pretty close.


I may have woken up this morning to an empty room and a bunch of cardboard boxes, but I know in my heart and in my mind that I am not alone. One must experience endings in order to have beginnings, and in my life, there have been many chapters of that kind. The Washington Center was a chapter filled with hard work, late nights and a newfound appreciation for coffee. But it was the moments of determination, excitement and success that have stood out in my memory. This chapter was nothing like the ones from my past, and thanks to The Washington Center, I have developed relationships of all kinds, from mentors and new friends, to my boyfriend, William. It is these people that have made this chapter one that I will never forget.


In closing, I have decided to leave you with the challenge presented by my boyfriend and colleague two days ago:

Ask not what the world can do for you, ask what you can do for your world.


After all, The Washington Center's Mission lives through each of us. We must keep striving to achieve greatness in our own lives and global citizenship throughout our world. The importance of interdependency is not only in the professional realms of this world, but the personal one as well. I am fortunate to have had so many individuals help me get one step closer to achieving my dreams. If there is ever anything that I can do for you, feel free to contact me via email: or follow my personal blog through my website at


Thanks for following my TWC Journey,


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