From a Semester to a Career in Washington, D.C.
By Kyle Upton ’19
Built in 1800 and having endured more than two centuries of this nation’s most tumultuous and pivotal times, the United States Capitol Building manifests profound architecture and immense history. Topped with the Statue of Freedom and standing 288 feet tall, the exterior is as stately as the interior is ornate. From the Brumidi Corridors to National Statuary Hall adorned with bronze and marble sculptures, the Capitol is a true marvel with many stories to tell. As someone with an interest in and appreciation for architecture and history, it is a privilege to go to work there every day.
Since sixth grade, I have been interested in politics and government. I also very much enjoyed history classes and learning about our nation’s founding and past. In my free time, I would often read about our political system and history. While I was in middle school, the United States was in the throes of the 2008 recession. This, and my affinity for math class and working with numbers, spurred my interest in economics. Consequently, I took many advanced math and history courses in high school and decided to study economics and political science at Moravian College. Although I enjoyed my professors and classes, I wanted to be in the middle of it all, and what better place to mesh my interests of economics, politics, and history than Washington, D.C.?
During the fall of 2018, I participated in the Washington Semester program at American University. The program ran from late August through December and had three components: an academic seminar, elective course, and internship. I chose the economics and business concentration for my seminar. Professor Jeffrey Sosland was my seminar instructor and made sure his students received a thorough experience in Washington. His approach was to use D.C. as our classroom, and we did, which provided limitless possibilities. I also took an elective on public policy; my professor was a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
My seminar was divided into two courses, one for global economics and one for business. I had each class once per week. On class days, we had designated time for lecture and then would listen to a guest speaker or visit a site. The economic course covered topics such as labor unions and movements, globalization and international trade, and economic development. We went on site visits and spoke with high-level officials at the World Bank, Federal Reserve System, and International Monetary Fund to name a few. Topics covered in the business course included regulation, artificial intelligence, start-ups, and corporate social responsibility, and we visited the facilities and spoke with executives of some leading corporations including UPS (Global Public Affairs Office) and 3M (Innovation Center). An underlying theme of the seminar was how economics, politics, and business are intertwined.
For my internship, I worked in the office of my hometown representative, Congressman Leonard Lance. Being a Hunterdon County native and knowing the Lance name from a young age, I was excited for this opportunity. I had never interned in D.C. Once I was there, I saw firsthand that serving the public is both an immense responsibility and an honor. Watching the Congressman and staff work for the people of New Jersey every day was an invaluable experience, and observing the inner workings of the federal government brought my studies to life. The internship taught me what it takes to succeed in the Capitol, gave me many professional connections in D.C., and was the ideal complement to studying at American University that semester and using D.C. as my classroom. Thanks to my time with Congressman Lance’s office, I knew I wanted to work on the Hill after graduation.
I returned to Moravian for the spring 2019 semester. Throughout the semester, I stayed in touch with the many people I met and worked with while in D.C. and occasionally traveled to the city. Upon graduating, I wanted to go back and begin a career there. I arrived in Washington in the fall and did exactly that. I now work in the office of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. Being in a place where one can learn something new and meet new people every day is important to me. I continue to expand my pool of knowledge, make new connections, discover new interests, and enjoy new experiences. Though I have graduated, education, growth, and taking up new pursuits do not stop.
Note: I would like to acknowledge the role Dr. John Reynolds and his mentorship played in my Washington D.C. experience and this piece. From co-founding Moravian PAC in the fall of 2016, hosting Congressman Dent in October 2017, studying in D.C. the following fall, and everything in between, Dr. Reynolds’s unwavering support as an advisor cannot be overstated. I never had him for a class, but he taught me many things that one could not learn in a classroom. He will be sorely missed at Moravian College, but his legacy will surely continue to shine.