State-Level Impact

by Attayah Douglas '18.5
July 9, 2017

Yang Guo '18 reflects on her time in the Brown in Washington program and shares her top tips for civic engagement. 

Q: Briefly describe the work you did in D.C. through the program. 

A: In the HELP Committee education office, my work focused on K-12 education policy. I am especially interested in education as a civil rights issue, so I researched equal access and opportunities for disadvantaged students. I especially focused on the Trump/DeVos agenda of privatization of schools and researched how voucher programs would harm our most vulnerable students. My daily work included writing memos, performing online research, attending briefings and hearings on the Hill and attending events at think tanks.

Q: What unexpected experiences did you have?

A: I didn’t expect to be able to go to so many amazing events on policy areas that I was curious about, including education, international relations and human rights. All of these events have expert speakers and are free. To be able to attend these free conversations that are both academic but also policy-oriented was extremely eye-opening.

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

A: When the senator that I worked for, Patty Murray, encouraged me to go into public service.

Q: Why should people apply to this program and who should apply for this program?

A: You should apply because you will learn so much about politics and policy in the most exciting and fun way possible. You will gain great professional skills and you will meet wonderful mentors. You will have a clearer sense of your career path and won’t feel so afraid of life after graduation anymore. If you are interested in public service in any capacity and want to learn more about the Washington establishments, this program is your perfect option.

Q: What advice would you give for anyone interested applying and to the new cohort of students participating in the program?

A: Come with an open mind and an open heart. Attend as many events as possible, talk to as many people as possible, explore as many neighborhoods as possible. Be flexible and be creative. Be ready to learn, grow and have fun.

Q: What are your “Top Tips” from Washington?

  • A: Calling or emailing your senator actually does make a difference. If you feel passionate about an issue, keep emailing and encourage those around you to do the same.
  • So many impactful policies are made at the state level. Get involved in your state and local politics.

  • The best time to hassle your senator is when they are facing re-election.