******As a full-time student most of my earlier reflections , are catered to the audience of Bennett College. As I continue to dissect my experience I will be sure to include everyone. This a letter written to the Bennett College community after 4 weeks of interning at the White House *****
February 21st ,2014
Happy Friday Bennett Family –
I pray each of you is doing well and that this update leaves you with a piece of happiness.
Today marks 4 weeks of interning at the White House and 5 weeks of living in DC. Oh boy, what an experience it has been. I grew up so quickly my first week of work. I’ve been told I’m pretty mature for my age, even responsible, but being an adult in DC has challenged me to grow thicker skin. From missing buses to cooking or even learning how to budget, this experience has been an eye-opener into adulthood.
My first week of work I came in suited and booted. I was prepared for work, but compared to everyone else I looked over dressed. Yes, overdressed. My boss had on a Forever 21 dress, no tights, and super casual boots. Now this isn’t the culture of every office, but it is definitely the culture of mine. However because I am not a full-time employee, I wear business professional attire every day 🙂 #bennetttaughtme.
I work in one of the best departments. Scheduling and Advance has been a dream come true. I’ve been able to travel to domestic locations to hear President Obama speak, meet some of America’s most powerful people , review correspondent requests, organize inter-departmental schedules, and even help organize POTUS’s schedule. I am learning so much. Through my office I recently met the Secretary of Education , Mr. Arne Duncan. We talked about Chicago and the public school system for about 15 mins before he gave me his business card. Cool right ? Last week I even helped host France’s State Arrival at the White House . To be on the south lawn and see such a historical ceremony take place that has been around for years was breathtaking. This event required me to be at work at 6:00 am. Actually every event I work requires me to be at work between 6-6:45 am. Make-up comes in handy these days because we still get off at 6:00 pm sometimes. Despite the occasional early mornings I am so blessed because some interns work 12-14hr shifts every day. My boss doesn’t believe in that which leaves more time for exploring DC. I have been able to tour the East Wing and next week my boss is giving the team a tour of the West Wing. I’ve seen Boe and Sunny on their daily walk. I’ve had the privilege of being in the White House Library that contains books and personal documentation on almost every President and First Lady of the U.S. And I’ve even had the pleasure of sneaking in a couple of pictures in the White House quarters.
There is a girl from Spelman College in the White House Internship program as well. She is really sweet and we’ve actually went out a couple of times. I also had the pleasure of meeting a handful of Bennett alums last week who have graciously extended their love and support to me. In addition I’ve had the opportunity to reunite with two of my Bennett sisters who graduated last year. They have served as really good tour guides.
These past 4 weeks at work have been all about observation. I haven’t said too much. My head is usually in my work. Some of you are probably raising your eyebrows right now saying “ Shemiah …quite for 4 weeks ? I need to see it to believe it (lol).” It’s very true. I wanted to learn the culture of my office and of the White House first. This experience is about learning , being a sponge so that’s what I’m doing.
For example, Bennett is an all-women’s institution so I’ve never really had to experience a man/male challenge my opinion or my work ethic simply because I am a woman. It happens all the time in my office. Welcome to the real world right ? Funny how Bennett sort of protects you from this. Gender inequality is no joke. I haven’t quite figured out the best way to respond, but I’m getting there.
It has also been an experience in itself to know that I am 1 of maybe 5 black people in the program who are from an urban background. The other black interns are from more “diverse” backgrounds . This means that my perspective of politics is very different from theirs. However I think I’ve learned that in order to be successful in this program I must challenge myself to not only identify with the Black community but the other communities I belong to as well.
Every day I go to work I thank God for the opportunity to be working in the White House. The second week I was almost in tears. Literally 6 rows away from the President at a speaking engagement, I thought about how many people just want him to respond to a letter and I’m literally hearing the man speak in person. Everyday at work I’m able to walk the same halls as him and his family . I crack jokes with the secret service agents. I swipe a government badge to get into work. Very few people get to experience what I have in such a short amount of time. People cling to the outside of the White House gates and I swipe a badge that gives me access to one of the most prestigious facilities in the nation.
I don’t know what opportunities this new world will open for me or where I will go from here , but I do know that I am in the right place. It feels right. I am surrounded by a bunch of 20-30 year olds who are crazy about public service just like me.
Soon we will be getting mentors from different departments in the White House staff. I am super excited to have someone coach me through this process. Let’s practice wishful thinking . I would love to have FLOTUS :).
I apologize in advance if some of you feel my details are too vague. It comes with the position.
I promise my presentation next fall will be better.
Smile. Stay Strong. The semester is almost over.
Until next time.
– Shemiah K. Curry
Quick Photos from weeks 1-4
At my Surprise Farewell Party given by my amazing Sister- Friends and Littles of Bennett College . I declared “2014 is MY YEAR ”
Mommy and I at dinner in DC a couple of days before my internship began – Jan 2014
1st day of my internship at the White House – Jan 2014
Shanima Parker ( Bennett Alum ) and I out for dinner in DC – Feb 2014
Sec. of Education , Arne Duncan & I talking at Buck Lodge Middle School **excuse the darkness **
President Obama speaking at Buck Lodge Middle School. I worked this event . He discussed the ConnectED initiative . I’m 6 rows away from him .
After the France State Arrival on the South Lawn of the White House