I was a proud member of the first group of Wisconsin in Washington (WIW) program students to arrive in D.C. in 2005. While interning at Voice of America (VOA), the world’s largest international broadcaster, I helped to prepare TV and radio shows that transmit crucial news into information-starved countries and also learned about cultures and global problems through working with numerous language services. In every position I explored at VOA, people were impressed that the University of Wisconsin had sent students all the way to D.C. to work alongside them. During evenings, our group studied and listened to esteemed Badger alumni share insights on their experiences and how they successfully overcame various disruptions over the years.
It was this invaluable experience that enabled me to launch a successful career and build a life in the D.C. area, where today I work as a senior analyst at the world’s largest law firm. I have the privilege to problem-solve and strategize on the latest, most pressing challenges confronting the U.S. and the international community alongside lawyers, foreign experts, and former intelligence officials, among others. Some of my recent work has helped our clients and their citizens and customers to learn how congressional legislation affects them, to track the spread of the coronavirus and how it will reshape human life, and to understand the key drivers of protests in the U.S. and across the globe.
Although each workday brings a new policy issue or problem to analyze and assess, the underlying fundamentals of thorough research, effective writing, clear communication and the ability to learn new tasks and tools are a necessary constant. These skills, which the UW excels at refining, seem basic, but endow us with the competence to be an asset to our communities and the world.
Times have changed, and now I serve the program as a mentor for current WIW students, answering questions and giving advice about life and work in Washington. It is an honor to be able to help each new group of WIW students with insights gained from experience in D.C. and, many times, with just good old-fashioned conversation about their aspirations and goals for the future.
WIW program is a proven path for Badgers to take their knowledge gained at the university to the national capital region in order to positively impact important discussions and work on challenging issues like those we face today. After almost 15 years of living and working in the capital area, it is clear to me that the U.S., and the entire planet, is better served if UW students and our exemplary ‘Wisconsin Idea’ have a strong presence in centers of power like Washington, D.C.
The WIW program is doing its part to make this happen.