March 26, 2012 by Lauren Stephenson
Where has the time gone? You may notice my last blog entry was last April (I apologize) … that’s almost a year ago, but it seems like yesterday. These past eleven months have been a whirlwind and I am glad I have finally been able to return to blogging for the College. My time in Washington was spectacular.
I extended my internship with NBC/MSNBC through the summer and had some incredible opportunities including working for a journalist I have looked up to for quite a long time, contributing to reports on the Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, and working on the Dateline Special, Taking the Hill: Inside Congress, and meeting some of the top news makers in the world.
In August, I traveled to the Iowa State Fair and Ames Straw Poll as the Comcast’s Own The Vote correspondent. I interviewed Sarah Palin, Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gov. Mike Huckabee, RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Rep. Gresham Barrett.
I also followed Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker Newt Gingrich around the fair. They weren’t talking to anyone but they both recognized me after I had been following them for a few days I should note the Romney campaign allowed me to interview his son, Tagg. The entire time in Iowa was surreal. I was incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to interview these news makers and to improve my reporting skills. On the eve of my birthday, my story became available on Xfinity (also known as Comcast On Demand). It truly was the best birthday yet.At the beginning of this spring semester, I was fortunate to interview CNN’s John King when he hosted his show from the College on the eve of Charter Day, which also marked the investment of Secretary Robert Gates as Chancellor. Secretary Gates was also kind enough to give student reporters like me the opportunity to interview him. He has had such a storied career and it is an honor to be attending the same university he did.
All of these experiences were not only exciting and educational, but they have also opened many doors for me and I am grateful that it all started with my participation in the William and Mary Washington semester program.Since I was four years old, I have always dreamt of being a journalist. My participation in William and Mary Television since my freshman year has allowed me to improve my reporting skills. As a result, I was able to obtain various internships that allowed me to gain more experience in the news industry. The College allowed me to do academic work in conjunction with these internships to receive credit (most internships require that you receive academic credit). Without the support of William and Mary faculty and the Dean of Students, I probably would not have been able to do these internships.
This means I probably would not have had the opportunity to go to Iowa and interview various Republican presidential candidates and other politicians.
The College of William and Mary was the only school I applied to that did not offer a degree in journalism. I took a chance by deciding to enroll here – I thought that I would be most successful where I felt most comfortable becoming involved in the community. It has definitely paid off.
So that’s a quick recap of the past eleven months. I look forward to sharing the latest “news” from the College with you!
April 21, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
It’s hard to believe that we have only one week of class left! Spring has arrived-the weather is beautiful and warm and the cherry blossoms have bloomed. In celebration of the warmer weather, the William and Mary in Washington program went to a Nationals’ baseball game. It turned out that we went on Thomas Jefferson’s 268th birthday. The third U.S. president was an alum of William and Mary. What a coincidence that we were at the game?!
It was nice to end a workday watching the Nationals play the
Phillies (I am pretty sure there were more Phillies fans than Nats fans). Although the Nationals lost 3-2, it was still a great night – the weather was perfect for a nighttime baseball game and we enjoyed each others’ company. It was also a night of firsts: Robin introduced me to funnel cake and Florian attended his first baseball game!
It’s sad the semester is coming to an end, but we are all grateful for the wonderful memories we have made-and there are still more to come in the final two weeks.
April 3, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
While we keep busy with homework and internships, William & Mary in Washington students love to take advantage of the city in which we now live. On Saturday, I decided to take a study break to be adventurous and explore a part of the city I had not seen. I met a fellow intern from my internship for lunch in Friendship Heights, a cute neighborhood that lies in both northwest Washington and Chevy Chase, Maryland. It reminds me of Georgetown with its great shopping and restaurants coupled with a suburban atmosphere.
We lunched at Cheesecake Factory and afterwards decided to explore the array of stores the neighborhood offers. While Friendship Heights does not have as many shops as Georgetown, it has almost everything one could imagine (there are many more options than we are accustomed to in Williamsburg).
One place that reminded me of Williamsburg was FroYo, a frozen yogurt shop, (think Berrybody but you serve yourself one of the six flavors it offers). It was delicious and brought back memories of visiting Berrybody way too much last semester.
I returned to my apartment and decided to meet up with Robin, Meghan and Cristina, fellow William & Mary in Washington students. We decided to go to a local restaurant to watch the Final Four. It was great to catch up with friends over dinner while cheering on VCU and UConn. Sadly, VCU lost and most of the restaurant, like us, was disappointed. Robin is from Connecticut and we all like Kemba Walker so we are pulling for UConn Monday.
Some fellow William & Mary in Washington students decided to brave the cold and rain to go paddle boating in the Tidal Basin. This is a popular activity during this time of the year because it is the Cherry Blossom Festival. Tourists from all over the world visit D.C. during these few weeks to see the Cherry Blossoms, many of which are located around the Tidal Basin. They may be beautiful, but for people like me, they are terrible if you have allergies!
The last few weeks have been very busy but exciting. Check back for future blog posts discussing Adam’s latest “Brown Bag,” our meetings with alumni mentors and our visit to PBS.
***Thanks to Robin Downing for the beautiful photographs!
March 21, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
It has been a crazy last few weeks and I am sorry I have not blogged recently. We returned from spring break this past week and picked up where we left off: working hard at our internships and in our classes. Spring break was wonderful (I went to Florida!) but I was excited to return to D.C. My excitement to return to my internship and the D.C. program allowed me to start thinking about some of the unique aspects of our everyday lives here that I have not shared with you.
As you can imagine, living in Washington is quite different than living in Williamsburg. Instead of walking to class, we take the metro to work. The yellow line, the metro route I take, allows me to travel over the Potomac and take in beautiful views of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. With the recent time change, the sun now rises while I am traveling over the river into work. The view is truly magnificent and is a great start to the work day!
Another great perk of living in a metropolitan area is the proximity to stores, restaurants, and even the airport. Over spring break, my cab ride to the airport took five minutes and my metro ride was literally 1 minute (it’s the next stop), unlike the 50 minutes it takes to drive to the airport back at school. The convenience of having everything we need close to us is important, especially since our schedules are so jam-packed with interning during the day and going to class at night.
Yesterday, Cristina and I went to the dry cleaner. We decided to continue to walk through the mall where the dry cleaner is located right across the street from our apartment building. We walk through this mall everyday to get to the metro, but we never realized what was on the other side of the mall, past the metro station. We were pleasantly surprised when we found many more shops, salons, restaurants, a drug store and even a grocery store! We wish we had known about it sooner.
It may not have been as exciting as exploring the city (I will discuss our D.C. adventures in upcoming blog posts), but it was interesting to find out more about what our neighborhood has to offer. The weather is beginning to improve and a bunch of us cannot wait to explore the running trail that starts a block away from our apartment building.
February 27, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
***Don’t worry, if you could care less about cupcakes, you can scroll down to read about our mentorship program, parents’ weekend, and my encounter with Donald Rumsfeld!
Ok, so you know by now my roommates and I love Georgetown Cupcake. We try to make it there once a weekend (for the free cupcake, of course…although we usually end up buying more) and love to try the different flavors. I was not going to write about Georgetown Cupcake in this blog, but yesterday changed my plan.
My friend from William and Mary, Caroline Kotila, came to visit me this weekend. Both of us love to shop so it was a no-brainer to spend the day in Georgetown.
Caroline loves the TLC show, D.C. Cupcakes, which follows the experiences of the two owners of Georgetown Cupcake. She had never been to Georgetown Cupcake, so we decided to wait in the long line that stretches up the block to try some cupcakes. The newest season of the show premiered the night before so the owners were there signing cupcakes and taking pictures with fans. Caroline and I couldn’t help ourselves; we decided to get pictures and autographs.
The verdict: Caroline loved the cupcakes! And I tried a new flavor, Chocolate Salted Caramel…Delicious! Okay, so that’s the end of my writing about Georgetown Cupcake. We were just really excited to have gotten a picture with the owners.
Now for what you really want to hear about: the William and Mary in Washington program. The last few weeks have been extremely busy so I apologize for not writing sooner.
Two weeks ago, we had a wonderful opportunity: meeting our mentors over dinner. During our orientation, we filled out questionnaires and were subsequently matched with a William and Mary alum in a career field in which we are interested. The alums become our mentors. We had dinner with them to become acquainted with one another, ask questions and receive advice from these proud William and Mary alumni.
Throughout the semester, we will keep in touch with them by meeting to further discuss their professions and advice for navigating the career field. My mentor is so sweet and has already provided me with wonderful information, advice and stories from her experiences at William and Mary, internships and achieving her career aspirations to become a news producer!
Last weekend was not a typical weekend for us William and Mary in Washington students. Instead of going to a basketball game, catching up on sleep, doing homework or going out, we played host to our families. The William and Mary in Washington office did a wonderful job of keeping us all very busy with fantastic activities and opportunities.
Our weekend started off with our families attending our Friday class. We had a wonderful panel of speakers including Politico’s Ken Vogel, Jeremy Holden of Media Matters, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler and Nadia Bilbassy-Charters of MBC/Al-Arabiya. They spoke about the changes that have occurred in the news industry and their experiences covering news. Vogel spoke about his time in Alaska covering Sarah Palin and Bilbassy-Charters recounted her experiences reporting in Africa and Saudi Arabia. It was a great afternoon followed by a reception for our families to meet everyone in the D.C. office as well as a special guest, President Reveley.
President Reveley was in town to speak at the premiere of The Way, a film by Emilio Estevez, starring Martin Sheen. William and Mary made this premiere possible and Georgetown University hosted the screening. Many families went and raved about the experience (some even took pictures with Martin Sheen!).
The next day we toured the White House! I think we unanimously decided we would all love to live there. It was absolutely beautiful and amazing to see everything from a different perspective. We were able to walk through the hallway to the East Room where the President will sometimes give an address (we are used to seeing it on television!).
After the White House, we had a break before our late lunch at Clyde’s in Chinatown (it was delicious). My family and I decided to travel to Georgetown, my favorite part of Washington, D.C. Other families decided to walk around or visit museums.
Sunday morning we traveled to the National Gallery. The mother of a William and Mary student is a docent and was kind enough to give us a tour. She even included paintings that have a connection to William and Mary in the tour. The first stop on our tour was a collection of portraits from some of America’s first presidents (they were William and Mary alumni!). My favorite pieces, however, were part of the exhibition entitled From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection. They were absolutely stunning and Florian Dantreuille, our fellow William and Mary in Washington student, who is studying abroad in the U.S. from France, provided us with the correct pronunciations of the French titles of the pieces. Thanks, Florian!
After the tour, we had a delicious Italian lunch in a private room in the National Gallery. It was a great end to the weekend and our families were impressed with our knowledge of the metro system and our ability to navigate the city.
It has been over a month since we started our internships (time flies!) and we have had wonderful opportunities! Some of us even had the opportunity to be published!
Lauren Stephenson: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/09/6019290-rummy-but-not-rahm-
Meeting former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interning for NBC has been an incredible experience. Being in the Washington bureau while history is being made in the Middle East as well as in this country has afforded me the opportunity to contribute to the production of the news. I have learned a great deal about producing the news and have had the opportunity to contribute research to the show I work on, breaking news and to my boss’ stories for Nightly News. Recently, the show I intern for had Donald Rumsfeld on to discuss his book.
Sitting in the control room, as I do everyday during the show, was an incredible experience. I witnessed history. I kept turning to the desk assistant next to me and we both wanted to pinch ourselves to make sure we were actually there. Secretary Rumsfeld discussed his role in the Bush administration and his never-before publicly-discussed details of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Afterwards, I had the opportunity to meet him and walk him out of the building. Whether you agree with his policies or not, one cannot deny he is personable. He was extremely gracious and we had a nice discussion about his book tour and his high school days (we graduated from the same high school). It was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. This man will no-doubt be written about in history textbooks for years to come and I was lucky enough to meet and speak with him.
The last few weeks have been extremely exciting for each of us in the program! We will have spring break just like our fellow William and Mary students back on campus. It will be great to catch up on some sleep, but I know we will each miss going to our internships and will surely be looking forward to returning for some more wonderful learning experiences.
February 5, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
So we are on to week three. Sorry it’s been a while since the last post – as you’ll read below, life has been busy. Although the days go by quickly, we feel as though we have been in D.C. for a while because we know our way around the city, have worked at our internships for two weeks and attended our first two weeks of classes.
Now that orientation is over, most of us wake up much earlier than our friends back on campus. We work regular workdays (for some of us, including myself, longer than the typical 9 to 5 work commitment). While working during the day instead of attending class is an adjustment, it has been a rewarding and fun experience. We have been able to truly contribute to the companies and organizations in which we are interning. For example, I research topics and guests for the news program and correspondent for which I work. My internship has already provided me with valuable learning and work experience and the opportunity to meet incredible people. I know Pete and Chris, the other William and Mary interns at NBC, have had the same experience. With everything happening in Egypt, there have been opportunities to contribute to the coverage of breaking news (it’s so exciting to know what is happening before the rest of the country does!).
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we travel from work to our two-hour class in Dupont Circle. The class focuses on the press and its role in democracy. It is mainly comprised of discussion of the week’s reading assignments and relating them to our own experiences at our internships or as consumers of media.
Professor Doherty incorporates video clips into our classes so we can better understand the context of our readings. For example, we watched clips of The Daily Show and Edward R. Murrow’s 1960 coverage of the presidential election between Kennedy and Nixon (we all had a big laugh when Murrow and his correspondents talked about how technologically advanced they were by using their RCA computer. It just goes to show how far our technology has come and how fast it changes).
Each Friday, we have two guest speakers. Last week we visited the Dirksen Senate Office Building to hear Jack Mitchell, the Chief of Investigations for the Special Committee on Aging, talk about his career. It was fascinating to learn about his use of the media to further his policy aims. Our conversation with him allowed us to understand just how interconnected government and the press are (Mitchell was an investigative reporter before working for the government). After that, we walked to the Capitol to visit the Senate Press Gallery.
It was an incredible opportunity to hear from the director of the gallery and a Senate producer from a major network about their careers and how close the media-government relationship is (we were all shocked that senators and reporters are friends and even go to each other’s homes for dinner). Moreover, we always hear about how competitive the news industry is, but as we learned at the press gallery, reporters cooperate with each other. Being able to stand at the podium where senators hold press conferences was a great way to end the day.
The second Friday, we were able to meet with Dr. Scott Keeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. He provided us insight into Pew’s surveys, specifically dealing with the evolution of technology and its impact on the way people receive news. He also explained how increasingly partisan the media has become and what demographics watch certain news programs. He even brought in graphs from recent studies that illustrated just how much newspaper circulation is decreasing and how cable news channels have changed.
Rounding out the day was Matt Bennett, Vice President for Public Affairs and the co-founder of Third Way, a think tank that recently proposed the idea members of opposing parties of Congress sit together at the State of the Union. Mr. Bennett was also the communications director for the 2004 Clark presidential campaign. He described just how much has changed in terms of accessibility to news, how news is distributed and what is considered news (we discussed the emergence of blogs viewed as legitimate sources of news in the past seven years).
This past Friday, we had our second brown bag with Adam Anthony, Director of the William and Mary in Washington office. While we ate the pizza lunch the office provided, Adam discussed two intern case studies. He compared an intern with whom he worked at a non-profit to an intern he worked with at a senator’s office. One intern was exemplary while the other intern was an example of what not to do. While it was a funny presentation, it did provide us with ideas of how to maximize our internship experience.
Our weekend tradition
Every Sunday, my roommates and I travel to Georgetown Cupcake to get the free secret flavor of the day. We get there early to be some of the first in line. The cupcakes are so delicious and we were able to see the crew from TLC film for the upcoming season of D.C. Cupcakes. Last Sunday’s secret flavor was Banana Split. We cannot resist ordering a bunch of cupcakes while we’re there. Here are our favorites:
Mint Cookies and Cream
Or any of these: http://www.georgetowncupcake.com/menu.html
Shout out to:
Robin Downing, Meghan Moore, Nancy Velasquez and Alex Villanueva for hosting delicious Sunday night dinners!
Javier Cabezas, Program Assistant for William and Mary in Washington, for making incredible brownies (during our orientation week bowling match, our team had a competition against his team: losers make brownies). He brought them in for one of our Tuesday/Thursday classes making our hectic day better.
Kelly Chroninger, William and Mary in Washington Office Coordinator, for providing us with an assortment of pizzas for our Friday lunch.
Other fun activities we have done over the last two weeks:
Walk long the Potomac: We walked through Georgetown after stopping by Georgetown Cupcake. We walked down to the Potomac-it was beautiful!
Basketball: Some of the William and Mary in Washington students went to the Wizards vs. Magic Basketball game.
Dinner at Capitol City Brewing Company: Some of us went to this restaurant after one of our Friday classes. We sat upstairs and had an unobstructed, beautiful view of the Capitol at night. It was also very reasonable ($10 for dinner) and they give you fresh, soft pretzels instead of bread (My roommate, Jill, loves this concept and that is why we decided to go there for dinner). A fellow intern of mine from NBC joined us. It has been great to meet other students from all over the country (Brooke is from Wyoming!).
Coming up next week:
We’re going to see a performance of Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center.
We have each been assigned a William and Mary alum in the D.C. area to be our mentor. We are matched based on our interest in a particular career field (more on this in future blogs).
So now you’re wondering how you can have a semester as awesome as this? It’s easy: apply to the William and Mary in Washington program for Fall 2011! The theme is “The Future of Art in Modern Culture.” The deadline is fast approaching! Apply by FEBRUARY 15TH BY 5 P.M.
Thanks for reading! I now need to do some work so that I can go to the Super Bowl party we’re having!
January 24, 2011 by Lauren Stephenson
Hi everyone! The semester began a few days ago and we are already very busy. While our friends back in Williamsburg began their first week of classes, we (the fifteen students in the William and Mary in Washington Spring program) had our own start of the semester of sorts.
While our friends back at William and Mary attended their classes and already had homework to complete, we had orientation. I know you’re thinking, “Uh, not another orientation. Been there, done that.” But actually, this orientation was a completely different experience from freshman year.
We like to think of D.C. orientation as a more sophisticated approach to orientation. Rather than playing name games (although there is nothing wrong with them), we went bowling at Lucky Strike, ate at restaurants popular among locals and were allotted seven hours on our third day to go on a scavenger hunt throughout D.C. It has only been a week since we moved in and we have already had quite a few adventures.
Here are some of the activities we did our first week in D.C.:
-Moved in to our apartments (we have a view of the Potomac!)
-Learned the Metro system
-Lunched at the D.C. office while learning more about the program
-Bowled at Lucky Strike
-Had dinner a Matchbox
-Participated in a scavenger hunt around D.C. (more on that in a minute)
-Ate dinner at James Hoban’s (Our program managers were not joking when they said there would be a lot of food involved. For each new stop during our orientation week, there was food. For example, one day after lunch, we went bowling. When we arrived at Lucky Strike, there was food waiting for us. And yes, the food was much better than dining hall food.)
-Adam’s Brown Bag (more on that below)
-Professor Doherty’s Intro to Academics
-Ice Skating in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art
-Had Friday off to make test-runs to our internships and embarked on more adventures around the city including shopping, eating at Georgetown Cupcake (more about that in upcoming blogs), and more
The Adventures of Flat Stanley
Coinciding with our first week in D.C., I was given the privilege of showing Flat Stanley around the city. For those of you who have not heard of Flat Stanley, he is a children’s book character that is mailed to friends and family to go on adventures. Both my second-grade cousins had the assignment of making their own Flat Stanley and decided to send him to me so they could learn about D.C.
For the second half of our orientation week, Flat Stanley tagged along in my purse and had the opportunity to participate in the scavenger hunt. Roxane and Katie, our program director and manager, gave us a list of different places (or clues about certain places) to go to and take pictures of. Each place was worth a certain amount of points. The team with the most points won a gift card to its restaurant of choice. Each point a team earned equaled one dollar. The winning team had over 65 points. Regardless of which team won, we all had a great time because we learned the Metro system, saw the city and learned about different places and their historical significance to the city, and bonded with our teams.
In seven hours, we traveled to Alexandria, Virginia, all over the district from Foggy Bottom to Georgetown and crossed the Key Bridge back to Virginia where we took the Metro into Dupont Circle and walked around Embassy Row.
Here are some of the places in which we, including Flat Stanley, traveled during the scavenger hunt:
-The George Washington Masonic Temple and Gadsby’s Tavern in Arlington
-The Kennedy Center
-The Watergate Complex
-The Exorcist stairs in Georgetown
-The White House (There was a big protest against Hu Jintao. Stanley had his picture taken with a protester)
-“The Church of the Presidents”
- Ford’s Theater
-The Embassies of Ireland, Indonesia and Korea
After dinner, we decided to walk from Dupont Circle to the White House to see if we could see anyone arriving for the state dinner. We could see the pink and purple lights through the windows where the dinner in honor of Chinese president Hu Jintao was occurring.
The next day, Flat Stanley went ice skating in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art. Afterwards, orientation was officially over. My roommates Jill and Cristina, as well as Alex, another student in the program, and I decided to walk The Mall and ended up at Capitol Hill. Flat Stanley had his picture taken with the Capitol in the background. We then decided to go to the Cannon House Office Building and walked around. It was very exciting because Stanley had his picture taken at the offices of:
-John Lewis (we had the opportunity to go in his office and see his personal pictures with JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. His staffers invited us out onto his balcony to have our picture taken with the Capitol in the Background!)
-Robert Dold (Flat Stanley got to sit in my congressman’s chair!)
Friday morning we did test-runs to our internships, went shopping in Georgetown and then some of us decided to go to the Wizards vs. Suns game. We are hoping to go to some Capitols games (I would love to see my Chicago Blackhawks play) and we already have a Nationals’ game on the schedule. We had a great first week and we’re pretty sure Flat Stanley enjoyed his visit, too. After all, how many Flat Stanleys have the opportunity to sit in a congressman’s chair, visit John Lewis’ office balcony, and get a glimpse of the state dinner?
Different location, same education
While we are now living in a city and getting to work by Metro rather than walking or biking across campus to class, there are many aspects of the William and Mary in Washington program that remind us of our experiences back on campus.
Like life on campus, living in D.C. is a learning experience. In college we learn how to live on our own, take challenging classes and build lasting friendships. D.C. is no different. Instead of living in dorms and going to the Sadler Center or the Caf for meals, we cook for ourselves or go out to the endless amount of restaurants D.C. has to offer. We will take challenging courses here in D.C., just as we would at William and Mary. However, our classes will be at night and on Fridays in order for us to experience first-hand the relationship between government and media through our internships.
Just like our first few days at The College, we have already become a close-knit group. This is not just a community. Rather, we are like a family. Eight days ago we knew very little about each other. Today we are going on adventures all around the city, including shopping in Georgetown, trying out restaurants popular among locals and deciding at the last minute to go to a Wizards basketball game (Senator John McCain was there!).
In other words, D.C. is our “college campus” for the semester. All the resources that we could ever imagine are at our fingertips. Along with our classes and internships, the director of the William and Mary in Washington office, Adam Anthony, hosts brown bag lunches that allow us to receive useful information and advice for being successful interns and achieving our career goals.
Like back on campus in Williamsburg, we receive a top-notch education from a dedicated professor in addition to guidance and advice from the D.C. program directors, managers and assistants. Only at William and Mary would students have the opportunity to bowl and dine with a professor. We learned Professor Doherty’s bowling high-score is a 266. None of us came close.
While the D.C. program this week focused on acclimating us to living in Washington, we all applied to the program because we like a challenge. We want to gain experience in the “real world” by interning and observing first-hand the relationship between media and our government. Just like all William and Mary students, we are ready for the challenge and are ready to embark on this new adventure. Stay tuned for a re-cap of our first week of classes and internships. Wish us luck!