Guest Blog: Molly

**We asked a past UCDC participant, Molly, to write a bit about her experiences in D.C. and share a few pictures. You may read her blog entry below! Molly has also made herself available to anyone with questions about the program. If you would like to speak with her, please contact the UCSB UCDC office.**


“A view of the city from the Kennedy Center”

For those of you reading this, my name is Molly Highman. I participated in the UCDC program in Fall 2013 and interned at the Embassy of Australia in the Education, Science, and Technology Office.

On a daily basis at my internship, I conducted research, worked on briefs, communicated with individuals and organizations, and attended meetings and events with my supervisors around Washington, D.C. The majority of my colleagues were Australian nationals, so I had the privilege of learning a tremendous amount about Australia, as well as seeing the United States from a different perspective.

Washington, D.C. presented one surreal experience after another. At the Embassy, I met the Ambassador of Australia to the United States Kim Beazley, Australian Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop. Additionally, I had the privilege of hearing Secretary of State John Kerry speak at the State Department, posing a question to former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, and attending UCDC Center discussions with influential speakers such as Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

During my stay in Washington, D.C., deadlock in Congress (just two miles away from the UCDC Study Center) led to the government shutdown. Although it was frustrating to see and experience the ramifications of this impasse (closed national monuments, cancelled meetings at the Embassy, and the temporary lay-offs of fellow students who were interning at government offices and government-funded organizations), the shutdown forced me to more fully realize the ripple effects of government decisions (or in this case, indecisions) and encouraged me to take more responsibility for actively shaping government.

Without a doubt, I would recommend that all UC students consider the program. There is so much that American students can learn about the United States from just a few months in the capital!

Here are two pieces of advice I would offer to anyone considering the UCDC program:

  1. Consider participating in the UCDC program in fall. The fall color is beautiful and unlike anything you will find at UCSB!
  2. Take advantage of the field trips sponsored by UCDC. I am so glad that I was able to see Philadelphia and Gettysburg as part of UCDC and it would have been much more expensive to go on my own.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the program that I can answer. You can also stop by the UCDC office on campus at 2110 North Hall to speak with program staff. 


“Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”

Guest Blog: Eden

Hi everyone!

My name is Eden; I am a UCSB and UCDC alumna and former peer advisor for the program. I am currently working in the UCDC office, as well as in Visitor Services at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. McKenna (current UCDC Peer Advisor) and I are writing guest blogs to provide further insight into the program, tell some fun stories, and share how UCDC transformed our career paths.

I participated in the program in Spring 2013 and interned for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s (NPG) Office of Collections, Information, and Research within the Catalog of American Portraits. Every day I had the privilege of answering the public’s research requests, updating and creating records of over 200 portraits owned or cataloged by the NPG, writing blogs for the NPG’s website, fact-checking, performing gallery checks before the museum opened, and many other tasks. The highlight of my internship was traveling to Virginia with one of my supervisors to assess a private Elvis Presley collection. I am more than happy to discuss my internship in depth with anyone interested in interning with the National Portrait Gallery while participating in UCDC. It is a wonderful institution to work with, and I highly recommend it to history and art history majors or minors. Here are a few of my favorite works from the NPG database and museum:


Morris K. Jesup, oil on canvas by Daniel Huntington, 1896. This is an example of the many portraits I was able to work with on the NPG database. I believe this portrait of Jesup should win some sort of “Best Facial Hair Award.” Image from the New York State Museum (

dd Buffalo Milk Yogurt by Jennifer Levonian, digital video/animation (6:46 minutes), 2010 (image from This was the runner-up of the 2013 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and one of my favorite portraits in the museum. I love this portrait not only for its humor, but because it demonstrates that the category “portrait” is much more dynamic than one usually assumes it to be. Here is a short interview with the artist explaining her inspiration, process, and the plot of the portrait:

With regard to the UCDC experience overall, I am often asked for tips or things I wish I had known before living in D.C. My usual answers: 1) Journal! You will be doing many exciting things during your time in D.C., and you want to remember as much of it as possible. I recommend the secure online journal website It is accessible on any computer with internet connection and you are able to attach photos directly to your journal. 2) Get a metro card. It is cheaper than buying a new ticket every metro ride, it is easily reloadable, you can register it in your name online in case of loss or theft, and I believe you save money when you purchase it in comparison to the paper tickets. 3) Bring an umbrella everywhere you go. This may not apply to all quarters, but I highly recommend it at least for spring participants. I would go into work in the morning on a sunny day with clear skies, and leave the building to get lunch faced with rain three hours later. D.C. definitely does not have California’s climate. 4) On any escalator – walk on the left, stand on the right. You’ll thank me later. 5) Go to the Center forums! You receive a free meal (always a plus) and you have the opportunity to hear and potentially meet highly influential figures. Some of the forums while I participated included the Director of the Food and Water Watch, President Bush’s speech writer, Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Participating in this internship program was the highlight of my undergraduate career, and allowed me to approach my post-graduation plans with more confidence. I highly recommend it to every student I speak with, and to those who are currently in the program – make the most of it!

– Eden                                                                                                                                      891838_4456301215138_1599130730_oP.S. Check out our Pinterest! It is loaded with tips and ideas for sightseeing, securing an internship, places to eat in D.C., and more!


Ashley – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

It has pretty much been officially a month since arriving in DC, which is crazy to even think about.  Just a month ago I was finishing up finals and worrying about how life in DC would be.  And now just one month later, I’m strutting to work each day and worrying about how bittersweet it’ll be when I have to leave.

But this post isn’t about the sadness of departure; it’s about the number of new and exciting things I’ve done in my month here!  Of course I can’t condense all of my experiences here, so I’ll just highlight some of the major ones:

Georgetown:  Repeat after me: “Baked and Wired”.  These are the only words you ever need to know if you’re venturing out into Georgetown.  From the amazing taste to the hilariously witty cupcake names (that are slightly embarrassing to order), Baked and Wired has everything I’ve always wanted and more in a cupcake shop.  But when I’m not shoving cupcakes down my throat, I’m exploring the other interesting parts of Georgetown.  Just this past Sunday, my housemates and I visited a small flea market where people were selling a ton of cool things.  There were comic books, handmade bracelets, old knickknacks, and more.  I didn’t buy anything, but I’ll definitely have to go back another week and look some more.  Georgetown is a great place to just hang out; there’s a bunch of different stores and restaurants (and an awesome gelato place, but I won’t get started on food again).


Happy 4th:  I was excited to celebrate a very American Fourth of July this year by Snapchatting my red, white, and blue outfit and watching the fireworks at the National Mall.  The sheer number of people all sitting out near the Washington Monument was overwhelming, but I loved being a part of it.  We waited almost two hours to see the show, waving around small flags and enjoying the festive anticipation.  Then finally, dramatic fireworks and flashes of thousands of smartphones illuminated the night sky.  Completely worth the wait and the memories.

Snapchat-20140628043223 Snapchat-20140704045809

Philadelphia: A couple of weekends ago, UCDC took a group of us students on a day trip to Philadelphia (Note: If you’re planning on doing UCDC, definitely sign up for a couple of planned events).  We piled into the bus at 7am and watched Catching Fire as we drove the three hours to Philly.  The day pretty much consisted of a three hour walking tour of historical landmarks the city is known for.  Our tour guide was a sassy older woman dressed in colonial garb who made sure to tell us that the Betsy Ross house was more than likely not where Ross actually lived.  We made our way to a couple different churches, past Benjamin Franklin’s grave, and through Independence Hall.  It was great seeing these places that have such a huge stamp in American History, but it did get really tiring by late afternoon.  There was a major highlight of the day though: Reading Terminal Market.  It’s basically a huge indoor market where you can buy any type of food imaginable: pickles, Thai food, Philly Cheesesteak, Pasta, Fish, Candy, Donuts, Cookies, Fudge, and the list goes on.  Leaving was the hardest part, just after choosing what I actually wanted to eat.  I doubt I’ll go back any time soon, but I’ll probably visit in my dreams.



20140628_145812                                                       Independence Hall

There’s still so much to do here, and I only have about a month and a half left to do what I can.  Unfortunately that means I can’t always spend the weekends snoozing until 4pm and camping in front of the computer, but it’s definitely worth it.

Tip #2: When you meet the Senator of Hawaii, try to be a little less awkward than you usually are (oops).



Debora – Sunday, June 29. Week 2

Today started really slowly, as I didn’t wake up until 1:30 in the afternoon. But soon after that, I made plans with my friend Ahva to go over to the pool at her apartment. Despite a persisting feeling of laziness, I got myself to get up and go. And I’m so glad I went, because I got to enjoy my first dip in a pool in DC, in a really nice pool on a rooftop. The weather was also perfect to jump in the water!


After that, my friend invited me to come to this concert that she and her friend had registered for a few weeks ago. Although attendees technically had to register/RSVP ahead of time, we decided to give it a shot anyway. So we got there, and to our relief, they were handing out extra tickets right before the show. All we had to do was wait (So even if you didn’t get to RSVP for an event ahead of time, just go! At least you’ll enjoy visiting the facility and maybe even meeting some people along the way).

IMG_0955So then we go inside (We’re at the Kennedy Center!), take some nice seats up front, and start reading through the program brochure: “Inside NK presents: Freedom-less North Korea, by The Ahn Trio.” Okay—so I’d done lots of work and research on North Korea last summer, also because of personal interests and passions, but partly because of my Korean-American Coalition internship. Thus naturally, seeing familiar words and themes, I was anticipating the event. Another reason for why I was so excited was that the set list seemed to feature a variety of styles of music, so I knew it wouldn’t be a slow classical concert.


Needless to say, the concert was amazing! Albeit there were some rather eerie-sounding, abstract parts/songs, overall, The Ahn Trio gave an amazing performance. My favorite was their tango piece Primavera Porteña, by Astor Piazzolla. You can say I was sitting at the edge of my seat from the beginning to end of that piece.

However, the BEST part of that night: meeting Shin Dong-Hyuk, the North Korean defector who was born in Camp 14, one of the most notorious political prison camps, and miraculously (literally) escaped the heavily secured and guarded slave camp. He is the subject of New York Time’s bestselling biography, Escape from Camp 14, written by Blaine Harden (former Washington Post journalist). I read the book last summer, and was utterly shocked by the details and attributes of the North Korean prison camp life.

During the initial introductions, speakers continuously mentioned Mr. Shin’s name as if he were present at the theater. So during intermission, I eyed the front rows—and found him!! I got to talk and take pictures with him, and get his signature (yes, his signature!). Here’s the picture I took with him! (Definitely not the most flattering picture of me, but just pay attention to Shin Dong-Hyuk! ^__^ )


Despite his history and horrible life experiences, Mr. Shin was very kind and polite. All in all, today was certainly an unforgettable day and experience. Hoping for more days like this, good-bye.

Note: There is a site called “” which lists multiple events, including networking and free concerts, in the DC area. That is how my friend found the concert, and I was able to go. So make sure to check the site often, for you never know who you might meet :)


Lexi – Arriving in D.C.

white houseMy name’s Lexi Weyrick and I study Sociology at UC Santa Barbara. I’m planning on becoming a lawyer and then going eventually going into politics. I, along with a few other UCSB students, did not arrive in D.C. with an internship. However, Veronica, our campus’s coordinator, has made sure to make us feel at ease as she works with us to acquire an internship. I’m more excited by this, because I feel wherever I end up will be a fun experience a little different than what I was expecting as most policy/law internships have been filled for the summer.

IMG_9214Let me just start out by saying that D.C. is a lot different than I expected it to be. I drove in from New Jersey (where my parents live) and was feeling pretty anxious about being left alone in a strange city where I didn’t know anyone. However, UCDC has a Target run for all the new students and I highly recommend going on that. I met a ton of people, got to explore the metro, and was able to get sheets (yeah, I forgot those). Just a couple of hours going to Target had made me feel completely comfortable about D.C. and the summer

D.C. is one of those cities that doesn’t seem to have down time. Instead, people go out to a bar or some sort of entertainment venue every day of the week. My roommates (who I feel really lucky to get along so well with) and I have gone to a few different bars to explore the city and we haven’t been to a place we don’t like yet.

IMG_9123There are also a lot of local grocery/regular shopping and many places to eat within
walking distance of the UC Washington Center. I found these easily through just walking around. Exploring the city has become a daily activity for me. I went on the UCDC planned Capitol tour and that was incredible. I also went with UCDC to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a famous restaurant here in D.C. I was blown away by the chili cheese dog and the cheese fries I ate. I don’t even like chili normally, but this stuff was other worldly.

I’m very excited for the summer ahead. It’s only been one week, but I feel like I’ve already traveled outside of my comfort zone several times. I thought I would come here looking to expand my resume and hopefully figure out some sort of solid career plan, but I think the real point of this trip for me will be to let myself relax a little and take in this summer one moment at a time. In the wise words of Aerosmith, I don’t want to miss a thing.

IMG_9117IMG_9098 IMG_9129 IMG_9158

Ashley – Intro to My D.C. Summer

5Hey all!

My name is Ashley and I’m a Linguistics major (intending to take on a double major in Psychology as well).  I just finished my second year at UC Santa Barbara, and I’m extremely excited to be spending my summer interning in Washington, D.C.  As a busy student, mentor, research assistant, and part-time employee during the school year, I decided summer was the best time to participate in the UCDC program.  I first heard about the program my freshman year and thought it sounded like an awesome opportunity to build strong professional skills.  The first few days have been amazing, and I’ve already met quite a few UCDC students from across the UC system. So far I’m the only non-Political Science major I know of, so it’s definitely intimidating to be surrounded by peers who know so much more than I do about what happens here in the capital.  Please wish me luck.

I4 arrived in D.C. still looking and interviewing for internships, so I won’t actually start interning until the second week of the program.  However, I am happy to finally announce that (as of yesterday) I have an internship!  Next week I’ll be starting my internship at the U.S. Department of the Interior.  But until then I’ll be exploring this bustling city, melting in the heat, and reading articles about how to not be “that” intern.

Since this is my first time interning, I am ridiculously nervous.  What if I suddenly forget how to complete the most basic of tasks?  Making copies?  How to use a stapler?  The department I’m working for??  Okay I’m over exaggerating, but I do get increasingly nervous as the days roll by and my first day approaches.  In preparation for that day, I’ve done a lot of research about how to be a successful intern.  The top three tips I’ve learned are to be proactive, to understand that small tasks are important, and to ask if you don’t know the answer.  With these tips and a briefcase full of others, I’m ready to get the most out of my internship experience.

I mentioned it already, but this aspect of the city needs to be emphasized: it is hot here.
I’m sure a lot of people will laugh at me for whining, but the D.C. summer heat is something I was wholly unprepared for.  Walking outside from the wonderfully air-conditioned UC Washington Center is like walking straight into the warmest, tightest hug possible: stuffy, wet, and inescapable.

3Aside from melting onto the sidewalks, I’ve had an amazing time here the past three days.  The people I’ve spoken with have been really friendly and welcoming, I’ve taken pictures in front of the White House, and I’ve walked around some of the monuments and memorials
during the evening.  I’ve even spotted the closest Krispy Kreme Donut (definitely a highlight thus far).  The atmosphere here is a lot different than what I’m used to.  Being from a more suburban, coastal city in Southern California, I’m not accustomed to the busy city life.  The confident strides of businesspeople and the air of professionalism made me a little uneasy at first, but I think I’m getting used to it all.  The change of (literal) pace is refreshing, and I believe I’m ready to start taking those confident strides myself.

2I can’t wait to write more about my experiences in D.C.  Look out for more posts and random tidbits from me!  I’ll also be adding a tip or two to the end of each of my posts, just a little thing that I’ve learned and/or experienced.

Tip #1: Always stop by Subway to grab a cold drink; you never know who you’ll meet.


Debora – Intro to Summer in D.C.

Debora Hi, I’m Debora!

I come from the suburban city of Stevenson Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley (Six Flags, woop woop!). I study Political Science at our lovely UC Santa Barbara, so I was stoked when I heard about UCDC. And let me say, DC weather was NOT what I was expecting.

The moment I stepped out of the Dulles Airport I couldn’t stop complaining about how hot and humid it was. Stevenson Ranch gets scorching hot at 110 degrees during the summer, but it’s dry heat. The heat here is super different, and I feel like I’m always soaking in sweat as long as I’m outside. But at least we get to wear shorts and dresses at night without worrying about freezing our butts off! It’s only Day 2 here but I feel like I can get quite used to this.

I’m not very familiar with writing blog posts, but just hang in there with me! Aside from the weather, I’m just really happy that I’m in DC!! It’s nice to see people dressed so professionally everywhere I go. I’d say it’s a good change from the super casual atmosphere we get in IV.

Also, the fact that I get the opportunity to experience DC with the guidance the program offers is so comforting. I’m excited for all the experiences, events, people, and memories this place has in store for me and everyone else. Best of luck to all of us!

P.S.: I’m also doing the 100 Happy Days challenge on Instagram, so feel free to follow me @ debdebss. ^__^ I’ll be posting my adventures, of course, but most importantly: #foodporn.