Week 1: Starting Out on Capitol Hill

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Friday, June 7, 2013


Nikki Sanford

It’s hard to believe that my exciting, action-packed first week living and working in DC is finally coming to a close.  After the other interns and I met and moved into GW at Foggy Bottom last weekend, we started off the week with an Orientation at AIP.  We got to meet many of the people who help run AIP’s many departments/divisions, and helped to make this internship possible.  We also had the opportunity to have lunch with the Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather, who is also graciously funding my position this summer.  It was a fascinating opportunity to be able to discuss his research, current scientific developments, politics, education, and many other topics with such an accomplished, amiable individual as Dr. Mather.

After this, I headed to Capitol Hill to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where I will be working this summer.  Located in the Ford Building, the office is adjacent to the other Federal Office Buildings and the Capitol.  As soon as I got there I was welcomed by the staff, and was able to help them prepare for the next day’s full committee hearing on STEM education.  I learned about the information needed to run the hearing, for briefing the ranking member, and the background on the witnesses.

The next day, the hearing had excellent attendance from the public; it was standing room only!  I got to help prepare the dais beforehand, assist the staff, and take photographs for the Committee to use on its website and/or Facebook page.  It was an awesome experience and was exciting to be a part of the action.  On Wednesday, I got to attend and help with a subcommittee hearing on windstorms (like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma,) and efforts to reduce their impact.

In addition to all this, I finally got my official House of Representatives badge for the summer and have started to learn my way around the area and the tunnels connecting the various buildings.  It’s amazing how large and complex the underground system is, and how there’s even a private subway beneath the Capitol.  There was an Einstein Fellows poster session in the Russell Senate building yesterday, which was a great opportunity that the other SPS interns and I were able to attend.  We got to speak with current fellows, members of the Dept. of Education, and catch up with AIP staff about our first week.

I’ve only been here a few days, but am already amazed by how energetic and inspiring this environment is.  I’m really looking forward to working with and getting to know the committee staff (who are all so welcoming and friendly), experiencing the life on Capitol Hill, and exploring DC with the other interns.

Nikki Sanford