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As the days led up to me leaving home to participate in DukeEngage, I kept thinking about the prospect of having the “quintessential” D.C. experience. Having completed six of eight weeks, I’m starting to look back upon my time here and thinking about what this experience has entailed.

My initial expectation of the D.C. experienced was primarily linked to my work experience. The skills I would develop while working and the knowledge I would acquire during this time. Without a doubt, this expectation of work has been met and exceeded. I, along with fellow DukeEngager, Allyson Luo, have been interning at FasterCures, a non-profit, action think tank dedicated to the process of accelerating biomedical research. Going into this experience, I was admittedly nervous. I am a Public Policy Studies major at Duke, with most of my course work focused on the social sciences.

I had the policy experience at Duke, but not much on the health side. Through my experience at FasterCures, I’ve learned a tremendous deal about health policy, learning more about the roles of the private and public sector. We’ve had the opportunity to supplement our work in the office by going to an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center as well as a Senate Finance Committee hearing. At FasterCures, among numerous projects, Allyson and I have been able to write blogs, a great experience in writing and researching. We have been given the liberty to suggest our own projects. Allyson and I thought of and are now writing a blog analyzing the effect that the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” decision will have on medical collaboration efforts within the European Union. This opportunity has opened my eyes to potential careers in health policy or health law, areas for which I may never have otherwise been exposed.

Another part of the D.C. experience that comes to mind for most is the sightseeing. From the Air and Space Museum in Dulles, to Arlington Cemetery, to the Holocaust Museum, to Mount Vernon to many others, it has been incredibly fun visiting some of the places that make this great city so famous.

Some experiences, though, I would have never anticipated having the opportunity to do. Some of our group went to a live shooting of “Meet the Press”. No, they didn’t feature the audience on TV (sorry Mom and Dad) but we had the opportunity to stay afterwards and get a group picture with Chuck Todd. Sure, he made a little dig at Duke’s hateability across the nation, but that’s to be expected, right?

Another moment I’ll never forget was sitting in the Supreme Court to hear the Justice’s announce their decisions for three huge cases, including the huge abortion case of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. As an aspiring attorney, and an American excited to see such an important moment in the history of such an important issue, it was surreal to be among the first to hear the court’s decisions. Even the experience of waiting outside the courthouse for hours and seeing the pro-life and pro-choice protesters exercise their first amendment rights was something I will never forget.

Maybe my favorite location in D.C., though, is the National Mall, where it’s great to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, look out to the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, and watching the sun set over the city. Its really quite the view.

There’s still some time left in D.C. to see more museums, eat more Chinese food and explore more of the city. Still, our time here is indeed beginning to wrap up and I can already look back on these past six weeks as an unbelievable learning experience. Soon I’ll be flying back home, but I hope I make it back to D.C. sooner rather than later.