Michigan in Washington Student of the Week: Jaylen Bradley

Hometown: Harper Woods, MI

Major: Double Major in Political Science & Sociology

Minor: Sub-plan in Law, Justice, and Social Change 

Internship placement: Office of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Why did you decide to do Michigan in Washington? 

I wanted to participate in Michigan in Washington since I was a freshman at U of MI, honestly. Before, and even during my time here at the university, I was appreciative enough to have known people who had completed the program.  They really sold me on this exciting opportunity. It was as if they knew what my passions were and how this program correlated with my interests. I would hear about all of the amazing experiences that they had and it truly made me want to join in on the fun and excitement! However, due to the program generally being for only juniors and seniors, I had to wait my turn- but my time finally arrived! I am currently a junior and have been grateful to be a part of the program this semester. I reflected on my lifelong mantra - Dream big. Set goals. Take action.  I understand that if I wanted to achieve those ambitious aspirations that I have for myself, I need to take action and involve myself with the Michigan in Washington Program. This program allows me to broaden my knowledge and view of the spectrum of operations of our federal government.  By seeing our federal government in person, my social and cultural awareness have been enlightened. I am discovering, first hand, what our nation’s capital is all about! That is simply why I decided to complete this program!  My career path may actually lead me to working up on Capitol Hill one day!

What do you do during a typical day at your internship?

Fortunately, I am one of the two lucky interns in Senator Stabenow’s office this semester, and it has been a great experience! I have been able to get involved in a variety of tasks and observe quite a lot as a Scheduling Intern working directly under the Deputy Chief of Staff and the senior staff team. My role involves supporting Senator Stabenow and her legislative aides by attending hearings and receptions on their behalf.  I review all event and meeting scheduling requests (50-100 daily), and coordinate input from 30+ staff members on potential meetings prior to the final consideration by the senior staff. It is a unique position I hold, because it gives me an insight on the senator’s day-to-day schedule. Additional tasks that I do include: guiding constituents on tours of the Capitol building, and executing the responsibilities of the front desk (constituent phone calls, notifying staff of meetings, and directing mail, along with other requests to the correct staff members). In a nutshell, that is how my typical day looks - busy, yet productive!  

Which elective are you taking and how does this class apply to your time in D.C. (If not applicable, what about this class interests you)?

Being both a Sociology and Political Science major, I sought electives that had a combination of those subject areas. Therefore, I chose to take two electives this semester- which I hear is rare. I felt they would both be interesting and enlightening. One of the electives is called, Activism, Protest and the Politics of Social Change. This class explores the history and stories of grassroots mobilization and advocacy on the national stage. By observing advocacy events and interacting with guest speakers, we learn about the successes and failures of social groups and their efforts to make lasting changes in American politics and society. In addition, we are learning about agenda setting and messaging, as well as techniques used to influence the debate (such as protests, advocacy campaigns, petitions, and electoral lobbying). 

Additionally, I am taking an elective called, Race and Ethnic Politics from Obama to Trump. This course is led by Michigan Alumna, Dr. Menna Demessie, the Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. In this class, we examine the fundamental theories of race and representation as it applies to actual experiences and quests for freedom, justice, and equality – all from the perspectives of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic groups. Given the racial and ethnic demographic shifts over the past two decades, we pay particular attention to the focus of race, representation, and racial discrimination from President Obama to President Trump.  The class also has a focus on how these president elects strategized and proposed effective policies and solutions.

What do you like to do in D.C. during your free time?

During my free time, which is typically starting on Friday afternoons, I like to catch up on sleep and relax honestly! We all know that sleep is important, but I also like to relax by going on jogs and walking around the DC neighborhood. Equally enjoyable, is visiting the Smithsonian museums, trying out cool restaurants, visiting various DC college and university campuses, and much more. Also, when the night is still young, there is nothing like hanging out with your group of friends watching a movie, going dancing or doing karaoke, or going out to various neighborhood attractions that are nearby (in Maryland or Virginia).  I have been exploring and discovering new places and things to do every weekend and it has been great! 

What is something on your D.C. bucket list and what is something that you have crossed off your D.C. bucket list?

My D.C. bucket list includes many things that I still need to check off, honestly. For example, I want to visit the Potomac River, experience a Howard Homecoming, visit the rest of the Smithsonian Museums (especially the African American Museum). I also must try out more of DC’s most popular restaurants. Of course, I would love to take a White House tour. Yes, I have been outside the White House, but I want a tour inside where all of the presidents actually were at some point.

 I have already done so much already! This list of things grows from week to week, but here are a few of them.  I attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference, participated in a huge social protest event, visited to the Lincoln and Dr. King memorials, and the National Mall/Washington Monument.  I even had a few visits to Georgetown University and Howard University! Of course, I was excited to try out some popular night spots and restaurants too, (like Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant.) 

What advice would you give to a student interested in Michigan in Washington?

I would say, don’t think twice, just do it! Be ambitious, and apply for the program! You never know what opportunities this experience can unleash for you. DC is home to a large number of Michigan Alumni, and they are all here to guide and support you. Some alumni even treat you like family by making you feel welcomed and noticed in such a busy environment.  In addition, I would say to interested students, to not worry about funding, making friends, or missing a semester in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor will still be there when you return. DC is something that you just have to experience. It is our nation’s capital – full of history, artifacts, and interesting events and people. Take it from me, it is much better being here experiencing DC in person, than just learning about it through various media sources used in a class.