Down Memory Lane

In your time at the College of Charleston, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make lasting memories. Check out this week’s post and be inspired. 

By Ebony Venson, ’18, ’20

As a student, you are often told that one of the most valuable experiences of your undergraduate career is having an internship. And I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true. My summer internship with South Carolina Congressman and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn definitely changed my life. This opportunity was awarded to me through the WN Looper award, presented by the College of Charleston’s Political Science Department. As a young girl, I was always mesmerized by the towering monuments of D.C. and equally intrigued by the fast-paced Capitol Hill environment. And as a political science major, I spent hours studying the history, rules, and processes of the United States government and Congress. Suddenly, my dreams and studies had become a reality, and I set off on my journey to Washington, D.C. But more than anything, I was thrilled at the chance to sing the “I’m Just a Bill” song while on Capitol Hill. 

CofC alumna Ebony Venson, ’18, ’20 (l) with US Representative & House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC (r)

I must admit. At first, I was a little nervous. Scared to say the wrong thing. Worried about asking too many questions. But eventually, I found my stride. Which was pretty easy to do, especially working with Whip Clyburn’s supportive team of policy nerds, Pepsi drinkers, and bulldog fans. Their eagerness to share knowledge, make connections, and catalyze change made my internship an experience like no other. Through this experience, I was able to gain a clearer understanding of the day to day lives of members of congress and expand my knowledge on the vital role congressional staff members play in policymaking.

But the work—meaningful as it was—was only a small part of what made my experience so special. Everyone I met, from fellow interns to Congressman Clyburn himself, helped me grow, both as a student and a person. While living at the International Student House (ISH), I met activists, politicos, and ambitious leaders that shared their personal journeys and offered advice about working in the field. Hearing their stories opened my eyes to the endless possibilities and opportunities available to young leaders like myself.

Venson at the International Student House (3rd left, back row)

One of my favorite quotes from Congressman Clyburn is that “your success will depend upon your ability to persevere, build relationships, and build bridges.” Honing these skills were critical to my work as a D.C. intern, and are foundational in my future success as a public service leader. 

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