Telling Your Story and Being Heard

by Attayah Douglas '18.5
July 9, 2017


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

A: As an intern at the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth, I supported team staff in strengthening and formulating Native youth policy and advocacy throughout Washington, D.C. and the nation. My work included drafting communications analytics, digitally organizing information, writing weekly opportunity documents, exploring online storytelling and engaging with youth directly among other team tasks.

Q: What unexpected experiences did you have?

A: At my internship, I was not expecting to be assisting in organizing information online and the process of selecting scholars for CNAY scholarships. I also did not expect to be drafting weekly social media posts. Together, these two unexpected experiences became tedious but definitely enjoyable. With the Brown in D.C. program, I did not expect to create strong bonds with my cohort, especially with my roommates, where we’ve collectively made each other’s experiences very impactful and educational.

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

A: My most memorable experience at my internship was hosting this year’s Champions for Change for a jammed pack week full of congressional meetings and youth showcasing their expertise via their project pitches. Overall, my most memorable experience while in the Brown in D.C. program has been attending the Native Nations Rise March.

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

A: People who are interested in public service and are interested in engaging with politics should definitely apply to this program. This program is something different than what you would expect from an internship experience in D.C. This program provides the necessary support, from the staff to the cohort, needed to be successful in a place like D.C., which encompasses great opportunities and fantastic events waiting to be pursued. The program was crucial to building career pathways and long-lasting relationships with like-minded individuals who are seeking change in the world. Moreover, this program continued to surprise me and impress me because of its capacity to be open to critique and guidance from its students.

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

A: My advice is to trust your instincts of being interested in this program and use that as a jumping off point for motivation to pursue this program’s mission: providing students with the first-hand experience to engage with politics and governance in new and meaningful ways. If you’re interested, continue to be motivated and passionate about your beliefs and trust in your strengths. If you trust and affirm yourself, your ability to express your thoughts and career pathway will emerge and it will be easier for you to address why you want to be a part of this program and how to contribute what you have to offer. I would also suggest to begin thinking about where you see yourself interning in D.C. and doing personal research into the opportunities offered throughout D.C.

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

A: I have learned why it is important for constituents to tell their stories and be listened to when they have concerns and questions about the political process. I have also thought deeply about the role of social justice (ex. Grassroots activism) and why it is crucial to the next coming years of uncertainty emerging as a result of the new administration’s established agenda. Localizing community issues is powerful and holds the most crucial strengths we need in order to change and promote peace throughout the nation. Every person in the U.S. deserves their rights, regardless of their “citizenship” status or other identity markers.