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.
When I was 16, I came to D.C. as part of the Girls Inc National Teen Advocacy Council. I and 6 other girls went around the Hill to lobby female senators about policy on Title IX and sexual harassment of K-12th grade girls. That day on the Hill was absolutely revolutionary to me. I proposed policy to a hero of mine, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, mocked Brett Kavanaugh with Sen. Mazie Hirono, and found strength in those conference rooms.
At the end of that trip, I was packing to go home when one of the other girls told me I belonged on the Hill. She told me how I came alive when I spoke about this policy, and I looked like I was born to walk down those halls. I was overwhelmed at hearing this because I felt it too– I loved it there. I knew what to say in those meetings, and for what felt like the first time in my life, I was talking to the right people who actually listened to me! Since then, I knew my destination–I just had to figure out how to get back there.
That young girl with wide eyes and big dreams of working in Congress every day during my time here on the Hill. She helps guide every decision I make, and when I question what I’m doing here or whether I belong, I remember how incredibly proud she would be of me. I am so happy to be living out our dreams and recently I was reminded of just that.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a staffer in my office asking me to write a memo for the Senator about a meeting he was attending the next day. When I looked at the details of the meeting my heart absolutely flew out of my chest. A group of high school girls from Girls Inc. Denver was coming into the office to talk about the sexual education policy they had written as part of their council. I was so excited to hear that these young girls, who were in the same position I was, were coming into the office, and I was lucky enough to meet them and sit in on their meeting. I told them my history with Girls Inc. and how, at their age, I came to Hill, and now I’m there working.
They asked me questions about what I did in my office and how I got there. I saw myself in every single one of them; I saw that glimmer in their eyes with dreams of one day working on the Hill as well. It felt surreal to be sitting on the other side of the table this time, hearing from these amazing girls talking about the policy they have written, how brave and ambitious they were for coming this far and speaking out about their passions.
During that meeting something in my head just clicked, that was me. After we finished, I returned to my desk and fought back tears of an unknown but overwhelming feeling. Seeing those young girls and coming face to face with how far I’ve come since I was in their shoes made me so grateful for where I am and who I’ve become.
Working on the Hill was always a dream of mine, but as I grew older, it seemed more and more unrealistic. I found joy in advocacy and nonprofit work, and I began to question whether or not I even wanted to work in government. I still don’t quite have the answers to where I want to be or what I want to do, but this summer has given me the greatest gift I could’ve ever asked for. I have made my younger self proud. For better or worse, my time on the Hill will allow me to accomplish a dream I thought would forever be out of reach.
I want to thank those young girls who came in and reminded me of why I’m here and who I’m doing this for. It’s so easy to become cynical of the world and the work we’re doing in the government. I can get so frustrated about the rate at which things are happening in the Senate, and how little control I have. I still often struggle with what I am doing in my office, and trying to figure out how I can do more to help the causes I care about. I’m so lucky that my office gives me so many opportunities to work on issues that I’m passionate about and while I know there’s still so much more work to do, I know when I leave my internship I will have made even just a small impact but on a very large scale. There are many times when this still does not feel like enough, but whenever it all just gets a little too loud, I think about my younger self and the light in her eyes. If she found peace here, so can I.