Order in the Court

Over the past month, I have had the privilege of working on a trial team with two AUSA’s (Assistant US Attorney) on a domestic violence case. I cannot give specific information regarding the case due to confidentiality rules associated with my clearance, but I will say it is an unbelievable experience! I have been able to work with the trial team from the very beginning stages to the end which will be this week.

There is so much work that goes into trials that many people, including myself, do not see. I worked on the pre-trial by creating folders with important materials for each witness and helping with witness conferences in the office. On the day of trial, I made sure each witness had their folder and was prepared to speak. Witnesses must be careful to be consistent with what they say in Grand Jury or they can be impeached for perjury. Watching my AUSA work with witnesses is inspiring! She truly empowers them and enables them to tell their story. Throughout the trial I took notes, helped present evidence to the jury, and prepared necessary paperwork. I learned so much about the legal system just by helping on this trial. There is no way to describe how much practical experience I have gained on this trial. This past week I worked on preparing jury binders which have all the evidence in one binder for each juror. This is a really important part of the deliberations and it was entrusted to me. Yes I had to make copies but it wasn’t your typical copying job. Creating these binders will help the jury to see the evidence and make a decision in their deliberations.

This experience reaffirmed for me that working as an attorney in the public sector is what I want to do with my life. There is no greater benefit than that affirmation. My whole life I have wanted to help people and finally thought I knew what I wanted to do. This trial fired my conviction further and left no doubt in my mind that this is the correct career path for me to pursue. This semester I struggled with what I wanted to do after graduation. I was greatly considering not attending law school. After working on this trial team, I know that law school is certainly what I want to do and what I plan on doing after I complete my undergraduate degree. I cannot adequately describe how important it was for me to see my ASUA empower people and watch her perform the job that she loves. It is like the simple advice I received from a Dove chocolate bar that read: “Love what you do.” Working on this trial has inspired me to pursue my dream to be a prosecutor and encourages me to follow what I love.

Sometimes it can be frustrating to work 40 hours a week, take two classes, write a research paper, and do a civic engagement project. It makes it even more frustrating when friends back home complain about 15 credit hours. This semester has been one of the hardest and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The real life experience and the people I’ve met has taught me more than I can adequately say. I am so glad I still have about 5 weeks left here. I know they will go fast but this has been an absolutely unbelievable experience.

Anything Is Possible 5K

The Anything Is Possible 5K is a race that takes place on Daylight Savings Night in Bethesda, Maryland. We began the race at 1:50am and finished the race at 1:30am because of the time switch at 2am. This is part of my Civic Engagement Project that I am participating in while down here. The Anything Is Possible 5K is sponsored by Team Red White and Blue which is an awesome organization that brings veterans and their families together. Team Red White and Blue works to combat the difficulties of transitioning back to family life and work life after combat. The Anything Is Possible 5K is an incredible opportunity to stand with the veterans and show your thankfulness to them for their service. Since November is Veteran’s Day month, it is appropriate that this race took place.

I ran with a few friends from TWC and we had an awesome time. Some people were in costumes, some people were wearing PJs, and some people wore glow-sticks. There had to be at least 200 people running. That kind of support for our troops is amazing! It was unbelievable to see veterans, family members, and civilians run together. Plus I ran the 5K in about 30 minutes with no training so I was please with myself.

This race embodies what Former President John F. Kennedy remarked about serving veterans: : “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”‘

Some TWC runners at the Anything Is Possible 5K

The Hawk Will Never Die!

Ok, I admit it: I am homesick. What I mean is that I am homesick for SJU! I definitely have found myself wishing I was back on Hawk Hill on more than one occasion. So you can imagine my happiness at having a true Hawk kind of week.

First, Dr. Lee, the TWC program adviser for SJU came down to check on all the Hawks at TWC. The four of us (Melissa, Sam, Kevin and I) met Dr. Lee at the Mayflower Hotel for a wonderful breakfast to which SJU treated us. It was wonderful to reconnect with other Hawks and hear about their experiences. Dr. Lee also helped us figure out all the logistics for coming back in the spring. I didn’t know any of the other Hawks until this breakfast so it was awesome to connect with them.

On Tuesday, the Hawk Alum Network in DC invited all four of us at TWC to come to the Nationals v. Phillies baseball game to network with Hawk alum and have a chance to see the Philly team play. Unfortunately Sam and Melissa had class but Kevin and I were able to go to connect with other past Hawks.

If I may brag about SJU for just a moment:

This is what makes SJU awesome. It is not simply that people love to go to St. Joe’s while they attend the university. It’s that they continue to live the Hawk spirit of community, service and excellence even after graduation. There is no school like St. Joe’s! Our motto, the hawk will never die, embodies this idea. Once you’re a Hawk, you’re always a Hawk. That means that the community of SJU, the lessons learned at SJU, and what is expected of you at SJU continues after graduation. I’m proud to be a hawk! THWND!

Massachusetts Avenue, DC has a Hawk Tower Look-a-like!

George Washington at the Nat’s v. Phillies Game


Alum and current Hawks!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Part 2

There are numerous sites to see beyond the amazing educational sites in DC. I want to share just a few that I have seen thus far.

Not the White House but Spectacular Houses Nonetheless

Dupont Circle houses many of the embassies in Washington DC as well as historic homes. I went to visit two of them. The first is the Anderson House which was built in the late 1800’s by the Andersons who wanted a “small” home to house delegates and rich individuals who visited DC. They brought with them everything they liked from abroad and modeled their home after it. It is a true love story because they were one of the only couples at the time to choose each other as partners. In a time where most people lived and died within fifty miles of the town of their birth, the Andersons are an exception as they are able to travel across the world. They had one yacht on which to travel and one yacht on which to bring everything they purchased back to America. Their love for each other is embodied by their initials placed around their home on the walls, on the ceilings and in every room.

The “small” summer home of the Andersons

The chandeliers in the ballroom

The doors in the ballroom

A late 1800’s Steinway piano

The gardens in the back

Mr. Anderson is secretly an Orioles fan!

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s initals

This is NOT 3D! It is painted!

The entire house was build around this painting

A modern love story from the early 1900’s

Upstairs view of the ballroom

I also visited the Woodrow Wilson House which is where President Wilson resided after his stroke in the final years of his presidency. His house gives an extraordinary view into the man who was president. 85% of the house is exactly how it was when Mrs. Wilson donates the house to the Historical Society. The furniture is unbelievable and the gardens in the back are magnificent!

The beautiful grandfather clock in the foyer

The sitting room

President Wilson’s bed

Mrs. Wilson’s “flapper” dress

Out on the Town

Of course, one of the most exciting parts of being in a thriving city is the many things to do at night. My roommates and I enjoyed an Italian dinner in Dupont circle. It is possible to find good food for a relatively good price. The Dupont Italian Kitchen is one such restaurant. We ate outside on the patio on a gorgeous September night. The weather was perfect and the food was wonderful!

After dinner we met up with several other people from The Washington Center at Kramer Books and Café which is a bookstore that has piles of every type of book imaginable. They also have live music every Friday and Saturday night in their lounge. We went to the Jazz night on Saturday and were able to have dessert, drinks, etc. I had not met many of the people who came out with us and it was an incredible opportunity to network and get to know new people.

Going out to Dupont

Dinner in Dupont

View of the book store

TWC hanging out

The band!

One thing I have learned so far this semester is that every opportunity is a chance to network.

A New Experience: A Night at the Opera

My roommate Caroline interns at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts and receives free tickets for shows when they do not sell. On Sunday, Caroline, Zeinab and I went to see Nathan Gunn who is an extraordinary opera celebrity. I have never been to an opera and was skeptical at first. I absolutely loved it! It was surprisingly humorous and entertaining!

After the performance we went up on the Kennedy Center Terrace and had a spectacular view of Washington DC. It was breathtaking! It is moments like these that simply cannot be put into words!

The Hall of Nations in the Kennedy Center

The fountain

Present Kennedy sculpture

The orchestra

Zeinab and I together at our first opera

The ticket and playbook

The beautiful Washington Monument from the Kennedy Center

The Lincoln Memorial

The Potomac River

The Washington Center is a wonderful place to network, build careers, and gain experience. But more than that, The Washington Center has enabled me to experience new things. I have gone many places, and as Dr. Seuss would say:

 “You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”


Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Remember that old Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Place You’ll Go? I remember being in second grade and reading this book. The lines that always stuck with me were:

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I have had the most incredible four weeks here in DC where I have had the opportunity to encounter spectacular sites. I decided for this entry to give you a glimpse into the many places I have gone already this semester.

America’s Most Wanted: Inside the National Museum of Crime and Punishment

I am part of the Law and Criminal Justice program (LCJ) this semester at The Washington Center. This program provides its students the opportunity to network with professionals in this field as well as participate in “experiential learning” by visiting museums and events that help the students learn more about this field. The first week, LCJ paid for us to go to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Going to a museum for free is wonderful in of itself, but I was pleasantly surprised how much I learned at this museum. The displays take you through the history of white collar crime, violent crimes, and famous criminals. My favorite part was seeing the actual set of the show America’s Most Wanted. John Walsh is the beloved host of that show and he has a quote that has stuck with me since visiting this museum: “Every child deserves a safe childhood.” I relate this to my passion for helping children who have been abused because I truly believe that every child should have the opportunity to be nurtured, be taken care of, and feel safe.

Hand cuffs as the ropes

Hand cuffs as the ropes

Wisdom from past presidents

On the set of America’s Most Wanted

The National Mall

Of course every tourist must see the National Mall! Some of the landmarks of Washington DC are, of course, the Washington Monument and the Capitol building. This is a must see for sure!

The Washington Monument

The Capitol Building

Zeinab, Caroline and I in front of the Washington Monument

The American History Museum

I absolutely love American History so I had to go see the American History Museum. It is a free museum which is wonderful but above all, it has incredible displays that will make anyone a history buff. The first exhibit I saw was the First Lady Exhibit which displays how crucial women have been in this country decades prior to the Women’s Rights Movement. They had the inauguration dresses from the first ladies since Martha Washington. Oh how fashion has changed!

Dresses through the ages!

Our first “first ladies”

The next exhibition was the President’s Exhibit which beautifully displays the historical context of the presidents from Washington to Obama. It is incredible how young the United States is and how this nation has never been without a president or an election regardless of civil war, international war, or partisan divide. They have political buttons from several presidents including Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.  The most interesting display in my opinion is the political cartoon section which shows some of the most famous and controversial political cartoons through the ages.

Reagan 1980, Jimmy Carter 1977, George Bush Sr. 1989

Vote for me in 2028

Social issues through the ages

Richard Nixon tangled in Water Gate

Anti-Whig political cartoon

Lincoln’s actual hat!

Natural History Museum

For all the science buffs out there, I had the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum. I was not super excited about this museum, to be honest, but my friend wanted to go and it was free, so we went! In hindsight, I am so glad that I went. The photography exhibit is astounding. Some of the world’s best photographs of nature are in this museum. If you are ever in DC, I definitely recommend this museum.

Baby Penguin Photograph

Polar Bear sees his reflection

The elephant in the entrance

Seeing the Real Constitution: Life Complete

The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are stored in the National Archives which anyone can see for free. I have always wanted to see these documents in real life and finally had the chance to see them! We could not take a picture of the document because the flash would damage the document so I recommend seeing the document in person!

For National Treasure movie fans: The doors they walk through to see the Constitution are not actually the doors tourists can go through.

The Natural Beauty of the Capital

We live in one of the most incredible countries in the world and I have the opportunity to live in its beautiful capital for four months. The natural beauty of Washington DC is incredible. There is a park next to the Archives that has modern art sculptures and a beautiful fountain. It is little places like this that make DC so unique!

Friends at the fountain

It looks like the sugar cube pyramids I had to make in 3rd Grade

Oh, the places you’ll go!

It’s Time to “Suit Up”

In the CBS sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson always wears a suit and claims that, if you wear a suit, you’ll always be successful in whatever you do. I have the incredible opportunity to work and study in Washington DC this semester through The Washington Center where I will indeed “suit up” every day. I hope to share with you the many incredible opportunities and experiences I have been offered this semester!

Moving In: Back to Freshmen Year

Remember that feeling you had the morning of freshman move-in day? The feeling of nausea, excitement, and anxiousness to start something new? That’s how I felt as I drove to Washington DC on August 29. With a car packed full, I began my journey to the Washington Center. I had been waiting for this moment for six months but when the time actually came, I was nervous. In many ways, I am a “freshman” starting over with new friends, new housing, and a brand new campus. Except this time, my campus is Washington DC. I arrived, unpacked, and met my roommates. I was shocked to find that the apartments were just as nice in person as they were in the pictures! In fact, they looked exactly like the pictures! Everything was clean and the kitchen came equipped with pots, pans, glasses, silverware, plates, bowls, etc.  Caroline, Zeinab, and Leanne are my roommates and each come from a different part of the world. Caroline is from Belgium and is teaching me (or at least trying to teach me) how to say words in Dutch. Zeinab lives in the US now but grew up in Iraq and has a very interesting perspective of the US presence in Iraq that I had never encountered before. Leanne is from South Korea and has made Korean dishes for me to try! That first night we had conversations about culture, music, food, and actors. It’s truly amazing how much I learned in an hour and how much I have learned since then.

The next two days were orientation. It became very clear to me that my next four months were not going to be 15 credits, working part time, and hanging out with friends. No; my next four months are going to be a lot of work. The message was clear: This is a whole different ballgame. I am working 34 hours a week at the US Attorney’s Office in the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence division (SODV). I have a 3 hour class on Monday nights as well as Leadership Programming and Career Development for 2 hours on Monday. In addition, I am involved in a Civic Engagement Project working with wounded veterans through a fabulous organization names Team Red White and Blue. Finally, I am completing an independent research project for SJU. Oh yeah, and I’m exploring the numerous awesome cultural things to do in Washington DC.

“Intern” Has the Same Tone as a “Freshman”

My first few days at my internship site have been incredible. I am the only undergraduate student which is a little intimidating as the other interns are law students. However, it is a unique opportunity to work with active law students who are able to teach me and help me. I wear suits everyday which is actually a really exciting experience because it has physically and mentally engrossed me into this professional world. I have already been working on several projects and working directly with a prosecutor. I am limited to what I can say due to confidentiality rules. It is cliché to say this but there is a sense of excitement and belonging I get when I enter a courtroom. As attorneys talk back and forth, it makes me want to do what they do. It’s comparable to the feeling one gets when they step onto the right campus for the first time. For instance, it is how I felt when I toured at SJU three years ago where I knew I wanted to go to SJU even though it was pouring rain and miserably cold. I have the privilege of working in the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence division (SODV) which was my first choice. My passion is to help children who have been abused and this division handles the child abuse cases from the federal government as well as the District of Columbia. I couldn’t have been put in a more perfect place.

With and For Others~ Living the Jesuit Mantra

If you go to SJU for an hour you will hear the phrase “with and for others” said numerous times, written on fliers, and engraved in walls. This is the Jesuit Mantra: To become people who are not only advocating for and providing for others, but also being with others in reciprocal relationship. Likewise, the Washington Center provides an opportunity to be “with and for others.” The Civic Engagement Program is a crucial pillar in the Washington Center program. Every student participates in a Civic Engagement Program. I chose to do veterans because my family has a long history of military service and so this is a project close to my heart. This program enables us to learn more about the struggles and difficulties of veterans upon returning from war in the classroom. Then, we engage the veterans personally to create one-on-one relationships with them through service. Finally, we are volunteering at a 5K run in Bethesda Maryland in November that allows veterans to participate in the 5K with members of the community as well as raise support and awareness for the veterans. I think there is not greater cause than to take care of those who sacrificed so much for this country. I am really looking forward to this.

Time to Crack Open the Books

I am taking a class on White Collar Crime on Mondays from 6pm-9pm. I decided to take something completely different than what I normally take. My professor is amazing and will definitely help me to learn and improve my debate skills. Originally, to be honest, I took the class because my favorite USA Network show is White Collar but scholastically I am excited about the class because it focuses on debates and moot court exercises. I love when classes are interactive!

The Washington Center also has a two hour leadership program on Mondays where they help students develop resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills. This is something I appreciate because I always want to work on these things but never seem to find the time to do it. This semester, however, I am required to set time aside weekly to do it which I think will prove very helpful.

A Bucket List

It sounds as though all this program allows times for is working and studying. However, I have had the opportunity to do some incredible things and see awesome sites. I saw the Anderson House which is a gorgeous 100+ year old mansion in Dupont Circle. The Andersons had millions in the early 1900’s and built this “small” home to house diplomats and host parties in DC. They travelled the world at a time where most people lived and died within fifty miles. They took everything they liked from other cultures and countries and put it in this house. It is a hodgepodge of Italian antiques, and rare Japanese art as well as furniture from Paris. The ballroom is something out of Beauty and the Beast. It is breathtaking. I also saw Woodrow Wilson’s House where he stayed for the final months of his presidency following his stroke. I have shopped in Georgetown shops, visited several museums, and walked through gorgeous parks. I hope to go to a Washington Redskin game, a Nationals baseball game, ride up to New York at Christmas time, and see a show at the Kennedy Center. There is so much to do and I am so thrilled to have an opportunity to do it!

I have been in DC for two weeks and have already met incredible people, seen amazing sites, and had brand new experiences. I am very excited for this semester. It is going to be a lot of hard work, but I know it’s going to also be a once in a lifetime experience.

It’s time to Suit Up!