A Breath of Fresh Air – Unique McFerguson

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci


As a Howard University student in DC, I was unsure how much I would gain a new viewpoint on the city. The streets are all too familiar, and I have memorized the metro system like it was the back of my hand. But the Victory Congressional Internship (VCI) provided me with a new lens that allowed me to experience not just the city, but my life, in a new perspective. Studying at Howard University satisfied my deep-rooted desire to learn and grow within my culture, but I realized that VCI gave me that same relief when it came to my queerness; I did not expect to feel so much security in simply seeing other LGBTQ people.

Being a full-time student and a congressional intern can be overwhelming at times. I am finding this new rhythm of balancing coursework, workplace responsibilities, practicing self-care, spending time with family and friends–all with the impending reality of graduating in May and facing an uncertain future. But, our Victory-led workshops and activities give me a mental break from the high paced environment and allow a space to decompress and practice self-care, even if in unconventional ways. During our visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, I learned so much about our complex history navigating through wars, social dynamics, and varying cultures. It provided a grounded and relaxed environment so that I can clear my mind and feel energized for the upcoming week. 

Our workshops serve different purposes—they allow us to grow professionally and personally through self-reflection. Our latest workshop was on “Imposter Syndrome,” which is a mental phenomenon of doubting one’s own competency and capabilities or simply feeling fraudulent within one’s current reality. Before this workshop, I thought Imposter Syndrome was feeling like one didn’t deserve their accomplishments. I felt like a passenger in a car simply arriving at where I am now rather than accepting and crediting myself for my achievements. The workshop helped me label my doubts and internal dilemmas while also affirming that these feelings are common and universally felt. I recently spoke with a staffer in my congressional office who discredited the impact he had on our office and our district, so I was able to help him identify his feelings, validate them, and reassure him that his role is important and that he deserved to celebrate his achievements rather than lament in what could have been.

The informal activities through the internship so far have helped me connect with the LGBTQ community while exercising healthy life balance. My Congressional Internship is filled with interesting training and workshops. I spend my days writing letters, corresponding with constituents, and networking with other staffers through coffee dates. Juggling this with the demands of a graduating senior can be stressful, so I love how I can lean on my cohort, Victory Institute staff, and VCI alumni for immediate support. Our dinners and walks around the city provide a nice escape and a way to bond with queer people in a way that I could not do before with nearly as much ease. 

I experienced my first DC snow surrounded by my cohort. These last few weeks have reassured me that my future will be filled with success in my personal and professional life with the support of my newly found community.