Becoming a Leader in Education Policy

 

Education policy. Before starting my internship at the Center for Education Reform in Washington, DC, these two words were only heard, discussed, and written about. As a policy intern, I have now began to actually experience the behind-the-scenes work that contributes to the nation’s education reform movement.

It has only been two weeks but I have already been treated as if I’ve been part of the CER team for months. On my very first day, I walked into the office with sweaty palms and the desire to learn more. I sat down at my desk space and began browsing the web to read more about the history of education reform, the beginning of charter schools, and their progress. As a Minnesota Native, I was proud to discover that Minnesota was the first state to pass charter school legislation in 1991. I attended a charter school in north Minneapolis from Kindergarten until fall of 1st grade and I would like other students to have this same privilege.

The Center for Education has been the perfect environment for me because the staff encourages thinking outside the box and innovative problem solving. I have grown as a professional and am forced to come up with a creative solution and exhaust all possibilities before asking for help, and I love it. Within the first two weeks, I have also had the opportunity to attend two informational and inspiring events. The first event was the DC Opportunity Scholars Program luncheon held on Capitol Hill. Parents of scholars gathered with congressional staffers, interns, and advocates to discuss the impact of the scholarship on their children. These scholarships provide the parents the option to send their children to better schools in areas that aren’t always in their zip code. The parents’ remarks were moving and allowed me to develop a personal connection to education reform. The second event was our national press event at DC’s National Press Club for the releasing of CER’s new manifesto. Educational directors, CEO’s, advocates, and even students traveled from all over to discuss innovation and opportunity in education. These discussions are necessary and it’s a great feeling to know that hours of pulling contacts, updating databases, calling senators, and educating myself in my downtime have all paid off.

After reflecting on these past 2 weeks, I have realized that my experience so far at the Center for Education Reform has been more rewarding than I originally expected. I have learned how to TRULY dress business casual, been exposed to a multitude of careers in the realm of education reform, and have even made a connection along the way. Being in Washington DC itself is a great experience and I hope to learn more, grow more, and enjoy myself more as I spend my summer interning at the Center for Education Reform.

Written by Jessica Stephens, BC Class of 2017

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