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In seven minutes, I will have one week left of DukeEngage. What does this mean? Well first of all, it means I drank way too much green tea and now it’s an hour and fifty-three minutes past my bedtime. But more importantly, it means that now I ought to reflect on my experience as a whole. So here it goes.

I have so many regrets. This summer was one of the weakest points in my life, and my inner battles leaked into all of my experiences with this program. I hate myself for allowing this. But I also know that pinning all the blame on myself just makes everything worse. I wanted to spend the rest of this blog listing all of my wishes and apologies. To be honest, I’ve written a blog post along those lines at least eight times. And it hasn’t helped. Instead, I am going to create a different list.

Everything I’ve learned in DukeEngage that I want to bring into the future with me:

  1. I’ve gained a greater understanding of policy and more confidence to broach the sticky realm of politics.  From the role of corporations in our political system to gentrification in our neighborhoods, I believe that while I am no expert I have the ability to research these issues and form an opinion on them. I will never be a super “political” person who can and will debate any topic. But I do now understand that my opinion has value.
  2. My love of and basic skills in art/design are actually useful, and I can develop these abilities without feeling like I am wasting time (reference previous blog post for more information).
  3. I believe that I could actually work a 9 to 5 in an office and be perfectly happy if, and only if, I had a window. I did think the artificial lighting and staring at my computer screen would end me. But other than those issues, I had no problem with this schedule.
  4. Duke alumni are everywhere and still love Duke even when their hairlines no longer love them. Networking in D.C. is a goldmine.
  5. I now have a greater interest in how to address food insecurity, the foster care system, corporate’s crazy political and media influence, gentrification, and genetic data security through policy. While this will most likely not be my work in the future, these are all issues I’ve cared about for years, and I feel like I now understand the role policy can or does play in them. I am curious to track how policy in these areas changes over my lifetime.

Overall, while I do not see myself working in science policy in the future, I know that my understanding of science policy will enhance my understanding of science communications and writing. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to learn about this field in this amazing city.