Madison Blackstock (U.S. Trade Representative)

At moments it feels like I’ve been in Washington, DC for a lifetime. While it’s only been seven short weeks, with three more to go, I can’t help but begin to reflect on everything this city and my experience here have taught.

Professionally, I anticipated growth and hoped for a better idea of what career would be able to both engage me and allow me to best showcase my strengths. To my surprise, DC is a younger city than most, filled people not that far removed from myself and eager to help the next group of leaders. Through their guidance and listening to stories of their own experiences, I have a renewed excitement for the future – perfectly timed after a bit of a sophomore slump.

However, my experience in DC has been so much more than learning new professional skills. More than anything it’s been about learning myself. While here I’ve challenged myself in areas I may have previously avoided, for fear of doing something wrong or simple lack of experience. From something as simple as trying newer, healthier foods to opening myself up to a series of new ways of thinking; I now feel like a stronger, more well-balanced version of my previous self.

DC has given me a new worldview and a stronger personal insight that I’m eager to bring back to Vanderbilt.

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