Final Reflections: An incredible summer

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Ashley Finger

I am writing this final blog post from a lounge chair in my backyard at my home in Cutchogue, New York. For the next month I will be enjoying the beautiful weather, the salt water, and relaxation before I pack up everything and head to Luxembourg on a Fulbright grant in September.

My last week in Washington, D.C. was as incredible as I could have imagined. On Monday, the other Committee interns, as well as some interns from personal offices, went out to dinner at Bullfeathers on Capitol Hill for a goodbye meal. Then, on Tuesday, I had a luncheon Ben Preis and I planned with Congressman Bill Foster (for whom Ben works) and Dr. John Mather (the namesake of our policy internship). It was an incredible experience to have lunch in the members’ dining room with two accomplished physicists who have delved into the realm of policy. Ben and I also took the time during the last week we would both have badges to explore the Capitol Building more thoroughly where we saw the place where George Washington would have been buried (below the crypt that can be seen on guest tours), the area surrounding the House Floor, the Speaker’s Lounge, and many other beautiful hallways and gardens.

In the office this week, I was involved in the preparation for a contentious, partisan hearing on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, as well as a hearing on research and technology relevant to border security. In a perfect culmination of my summer, I was in charge of making sure everything went smoothly for the Clean Power Plan hearing and got to sit behind the dais (I even make an appearance on some of our YouTube videos). Then, for the border security hearing I was the only intern working and our staff assistant was the main staffer and so I was responsible for the full range of intern tasks—a perfect summary of my experience. To top it off, that hearing, my last hearing with the Committee, was also on CSPAN, on which I made a brief appearance!

On Wednesday evening, Kirsten, Kelby, Jake, and I returned to the Argonaut for Trivia Night (not Science Night this time) to use the gift card we had won on our previous visit and return to a favorite spot for one last time. We were not nearly as good at trivia as we were at the science competition, but we managed to hold our own. Then, on Thursday night, all of the interns and some current and former congressional fellows met up at Tonic in Foggy Bottom for an informal happy hour I had organized to talk about our experiences as physicists in Washington, D.C.

Friday was our last day and I started off my morning with a member-organized tour of the White House with Ben and the other interns from Congressman Foster’s office. It was a perfect final tour in Washington, D.C. as I had run by and marveled at the exterior almost every day for the entire summer. I learned a lot about the history of each room from the Secret Service, stood on the spot where President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, and saw my favorite presidential portrait in person—Aaron Shikler’s depiction of President John F. Kennedy. After the tour, Ben and I ran over to the American Center for Physics for one last time to reflect on our summer experiences with the other interns and say goodbye to the incredible staff there. While the other interns returned to JBKO to pack up all of their things for move-out the next morning, I returned to my office one last time for our intern going away party, where the staff spent the afternoon reminiscing, telling stories, and laughing.

As I left my office for the final time, I could not believe that this summer was coming to an end. I had accomplished so much, and grown as a person in such a short period of time. When you enter college, career services tells you to not waste your summers, but I hadn’t had a summer until this one where I hadn’t wasted a moment. Congratulations to all the interns on a job well done, thank you to all the staff members at AIP and SPS who made this possible, and thank you everyone who had even the smallest part to play in my incredible summer.


Ashley Finger