Name: Lorraine Furtado

Hometown: Farmington Hills, Michigan

Major: Philosophy, Politics, & Economics, and Political Science

Internship placement: Research Intern at the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Why did you decide to do Michigan in Washington?

If I’m being honest, I was drained from regular classwork and felt stuck in Michigan. I wanted to use the skills I’d learned and practiced in an educational environment to create tangible change in the field of sexual violence. I knew I was passionate about fighting sexual violence, but I wasn’t sure if that could be a sustainable career option for me. Michigan in Washington has allowed me to see my education in action and use the privilege I have to advocate for fellow survivors. I know that the time and work I’m putting into my education is meaningful because of this work. I am forever grateful to have been able to spend an entire semester working every day to uplift survivors.

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

I absolutely love my internship. I’m currently researching sexual violence as a form of domestic violence, the role of sexual orientation for survivors, and reactions to minors’ disclosure of abuse. My role as a research intern comprises of two primary tasks: writing literature reviews and analyzing data. On a typical day, I search for relevant literature, sort it for saliency, read scholarly articles for key information, and compile background information into literature reviews. For data analysis, I clean and organize datasets. Using SPSS and Tableau, I create data visualizations and run statistical analyses to determine correlations between demographic information and disclosure reactions to sexual violence, along with statistics on domestic violence.

Which elective are you taking and what’s the most interesting part of the class?

I’m taking the elective Race and the City with Dr. Don Kinder. I really love the class. We’ve been learning how various oppressive institutions overlap to create racially segregated cities that promote inequality. The most interesting part is our final paper, where I’m researching the role race plays in the framing of domestic violence. It’s great to be able to focus in on a topic important to you and take a deep dive into it.

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

My all time favorite thing to do is to take walks around the city to various monuments during sunset (the best spot is the benches around the National Museum of African American History). D.C. is such a walkable city, and it’s great to be able to clear your mind. It’s absolutely mind boggling that I can take a fifteen minute walk and be in front of the White House. Nearly every block in D.C. is full of history and culture and exploring it has been so fun.

What’s something on your D.C. bucket list?        

Swim or kayak in the Potomac! I was born and raised in suburban Michigan and access to nature (or at least grass and trees) has been a constant for me. I love D.C. as because it has the vibrancy and pace of a big city, but it’s not overwhelming or overstimulating. Having the Mall, Potomac, Tidal Basin, Great Falls, and Shenandoah National Park close by has been a lifesaver.

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

My honest advice would be to think deeply about whether or not the program is right for you. It’s hard! Working from 9 to 5 and then coming home to classes is incredibly difficult, but it’s pushed me in ways that I am so grateful for. My time management skills have grown incredibly.  Leaving my community and family in Michigan has been difficult; however, I am reminded every day of the importance of my work and why I’m here. If you are passionate about creating change or advocating for your community, Michigan in Washington can give you the experience, skills, and connections to do that in a professional setting and build a career of advocacy. Lastly, be intentional about your internship search and pay attention to how organizations treat you in the interview process. Your time and skills are valuable, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!