Headed to the Hill

ByDe'ja Wood

Read the full article at StLAmerican.org >

Have you ever had an experience that truly shaped who you are? One that you knew would change your life even before it happened?

This summer, I’ll be interning with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Education & Workforce Committee as part of the KIPP Capitol Hill Fellowship. As a college freshman aspiring to a career in social policy, I know this firsthand look at how our country’s government works will shape my future.

I wouldn’t be heading to the Hill without the support of my KIPP teachers and counselors. They met me in middle school, stuck with me all the way into college, and continue to help me find and open doors of opportunity.

I came to KIPP in fifth grade, as part of the founding class at KIPP Inspire Academy in St. Louis. I still remember how on my first day at KIPP, they told us we were going to college. And, they never stopped telling us. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Joyce, is now my KIPP Through College advisor. She was there for me all throughout high school, just like she is for all KIPP St. Louis families. Now that I’m in my freshman year, she helps me navigate the challenges of being a first-generation college student.

It was Ms. Joyce told me about a new fellowship the KIPP Foundation had started for KIPP alumni in college to do internships on Capitol Hill. “This is made for you,” she said, and she encouraged me to apply.

Now I’m preparing to spend a summer in D.C. as a policy intern. I’m excited to network and to learn about the systems that shape our lives as Americans. I’m also looking forward to contributing to the diversity of thought in offices on the Hill.

KIPP alumni have perspectives that the world needs to hear.

De’Ja Wood is a KIPP St. Louis Alumna, Class of 2017.