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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Life + Arts

Not enough time in D.C. for Honors College interns

DC interns

The Honors interns spent free time exploring the district and visiting historic monuments. Courtesy of Madison Richard

Although she had packed her suitcase and rolled it through the lines at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia on Saturday morning, Madison Richard did not feel like boarding the Houston-bound plane just yet.

“I don’t think I could ever be ready to leave this wonderful city,” Richard said.

The management information systems junior is one of five Honors College students who left for Washington, D.C., on May 17. Richard and the other students — construction management sophomore Jeffrey Hong, studio art senior Lenore Caston-Miller, chemical engineering junior Isme Correa and architecture senior Ben Leuders — finished a three-week internship at the Smithsonian this week. For the reluctant-to-return Richard, the move to the nation’s capital had been inevitable.

“My entire life, I’ve wanted to go to Washington, D.C.,” Richard said. “I’ve never really been interested in traveling abroad, but I used to beg my parents to take me to D.C.”

Richard worked in the mega-museum-‘s Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations, where she compiled articles of information on every Smithsonian building and loaded it on an online database. Thus, she said, she helped to ascertain that current and future staff members realized the historical value of the architecture surrounding them.

Hong surveyed buildings and learned about facilities management and security. He said he was thrilled to take part in the program.

“Learning from everyone at the Smithsonian Institution is definitely a top-notch experience to have,” Hong said. “I (learned) so many new things every single day.”

The interns stayed in dormitories at Georgetown University, just an evening’s stroll away from the Potomac River, which, Richard said, was a wide reflecting pool of the cloudy pinks and purples of the setting sun.

To affairs Intern Caston-Miller, the beauty of the campus and town made the 20-minute commute to the Metro less of a burden. When she finally arrived to work in the mornings,she marveled over the displays of historical and cultural antiques.

“How often does a person get to work for a museum of this size and caliber?” Caston-Miller said. “I would (tell) anyone that if they are given a chance to come and work an internship at the Smithsonian, that they should take it, no questions asked. The experience has been priceless.”

This partnership between the museum and the University is the first step in a major internship-sponsoring program, said Associate Vice President for Research Mary Ann Ottinger in a news release. The faculty behind it hope that it will grow into a semester-long academic program that allows students to travel to, and learn from, the institution.

The five student pioneers of this program seemed to agree with this sentiment. Richard, at least, was quick to admit that, although her love for Houston and it’s lower cost of living is great, she would have happily stayed in the city for a few more weeks.

“It changed my life,” Richard said. “Three weeks wasn’t enough.”

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