Shaira shares her excitement about interacting with media and political figures for two weeks in Washington, D.C.
What is your first and last name?
What school do you attend, what are you majoring and/or minoring in, and what year in school are you?
New Jersey City University. I am a senior, currently majoring in history and secondary education.
Who has been your favorite speaker or panelist so far during Inside Washington 2018? Why?
Every speaker and panelist has been memorable, but my favorite was former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. I came in expecting him to characterize the party he is aligned with and speak fondly of ideas associated with the GOP. However, I have come to an understanding throughout this seminar that party notoriety is just the tip of the iceberg, and Steele demonstrated that the true core of politics is accountability to “we the people.” I especially admired his encouragement and aspirations for the youth.
Have you gone on any site visits? If so, pick the one you enjoyed the most and tell us who was presenting, the topic of the presentation, and what you learned.
The site visit that I found fascinating was the session with NPR presented by Domenico Montanaro, the lead editor of Politics and Digital Audience. I enjoyed learning about the initiative to provide politics a digital footprint and NPR’s efforts to modernize its news delivery to attract audiences. During Montanaro’s presentation, he spoke about journalistic integrity and their effort to remain objective in relaying the political news to the public. It is clear that NPR strives to provide fact-based neutral reporting, and I admire that. Most importantly, I appreciated Montanaro's honesty regarding how political reporting can sometimes come across as jargon to a regular American, and it is up to the media to relay information in a way that can be understood and relatable.
What has been the highlight of the Inside Washington 2018 Seminar for you thus far?
Listening to such diverse and experienced speakers. It’s one thing to hear them speak about an issue on the news, or read their statement in an article; it’s another thing when you are sharing space with these political giants that you have only seen on television. Regardless of your beliefs, it is amazing that these people have made themselves accessible and have answered questions from students.
From what you’ve learned during your short time here, do you think you’ll take back any lessons or information back with you when you go to campus? If so, what?
I think one major lesson that I have learned from this seminar is that tenacity and appeal are important in advocacy. Many of the advocates that I have heard from and spoken to have emphasized the hard work of getting someone to support your cause. They highlighted mobilizing communities, writing concise letters to your congressperson, and being personal about your advocacy. As a college senior who’s active in advocacy groups in my city, I know firsthand the importance of persistence in campaigning for an action or policy to be enacted on campus, and I will remember the advice I have gathered during the seminar. I hope to improve my strategy in advocating for causes I care about in order to keep establishing permanent solutions on campus.