DC Reflections: Out of Many, One

Posted On August 8, 2013 by Omar Rodriguez

One of my goals that I listed when I started my internship involved reaching out to members of the CDFI Fund. I met with the Interim Program Manager of the CDFI and NACA Program, and asked about his career path to his current position, challenges he overcame, and what advice he had for me as an intern. At the end, I learned more about his career path and drive, as well as received considerable amount of ideas. Next, I learned about the Portfolio at Risk (PAR) analysis by reading and applying the principles from trainings led by my team. Shortly after, I went to an event sponsored by the Robinson Wood Jefferson Foundation (RWJF) Commission.


The 2013 RWJF Commission compiled the report, Build a Healthier America, which identified “how the U.S. lost ground to provide Health care to Americans across the nation.” At the event, I learned many things, but what I found most compelling was that the “U.S. ranked 27th place in 2009 among affluent countries in life expectancy at birth.” I also learned about the striking difference in health for people that lived a few miles apart from the city to suburbs, as well as the comparison in life expectancy between college graduates and their counterparts with less education. As the discussion proceeded, I remembered about a CDFI Fund reading material- The Healthy Food Financial Initiative (HFFI). I realized that the purpose of HFFI is to increase access to healthy food to low-income communities. It was thrilling to know that the CDFI Fund was not only making a difference in underserved communities but also addressing how to build a healthier America with the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.


Before the month of June ended, I went to one of D.C.’s popular food shops- Ben’s Chili Bowl. I enjoyed an all-time favorite and classic, the chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries. Yum! The weekend got even better when a couple interns from Georgia State and I met with some Andrew Young School alumni, which was coordinated by one of the professors in the AYS School. It was exciting to meet alumni from Georgia State, learn about their success in D.C., as well as gain excellent advice. To finish off the last weekend in June, I went on the Capitol Tour hosted by UCDC housing.


The last event I participated with UCDC was a lecture about the history of D.C.  I remembered most of the information from the lecture and matched it with the facts I learned at a Capitol tour I also took. The Capitol tour started with a short film that described the formation of the government and role of Congress in America. In the tour, I saw the Old Hall of the House that now serves as the National Statuary Hall, the Rotunda, and the Constantino Brumidi painting “The Apotheosis of Washington” which is inside the Capitol Dome.  The tour was tremendously informative. I marveled at the stunning interior and saw the new statue in Emancipation Hall of Frederick Douglas.


June was a month filled with hard work, challenges, UCDC events, and the unforgettable memories outside of my internship. My experience in D.C. has so far helped mold my career path, identify elements I liked and disliked, as well as put me in very challenging situations. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and failures contributed to a valuable learning process while living in our nation’s capital.


The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.- Martin Luther King, Jr.  

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