Fourteen Heinz College students are spending their second year in the nation’s capital, as part of a new program where they gain real-world experience from full-time apprenticeships in some of Washington’s high-tempo offices. Inauguration Day is bringing their studies to a whole new level.
“The pace has become insane — it’s never been so busy,” said Lance Cardwell (HNZ ’09), who works in the office of Senator David Vitter, R-La.
Cardwell’s been involved in preparations for the Inauguration, the Senate confirmation hearings and additional work associated with the start of the new session of Congress.
Add to that the stress of helping the senator respond to requests for Inauguration tickets.
“The requests started pouring in before Election Day last year — we’ve had literally thousands of requests and received only a few hundred tickets,” Cardwell said.
Inauguration Day has special meaning for Mark Rutledge (HNZ ’09), a student who was an early supporter of Obama and volunteered for the campaign.
Anthony Mercaldo (HNZ ’09), who works for the U.S. General Accounting Office, is preparing for the crowds.
“Right now, folks in DC are just bracing for the craziness and inconvenience of the next few days — road closures, crowded metros, millions of tourists. It will be nuts.”
Even with the crowds, the students are looking forward to attending this historic event.
“The environment in Washington right now is amazing — and the fact that these students have an inside access to many of the planning events surrounding this event gives them enormous learning opportunities,” said Marie Coleman, the executive director of the Washington, D.C., Heinz College program. “Looking back, many of them will tell their children, ‘I was there. I was part of that historic day.’”
Photo: Students and staff from the Heinz College D.C. office braving the temperatures to watch preparations for the Inauguration. Left to right: Robin Cole, D.C. Staff; students Justin Sosne, Ambrose Sayles and Lourdes Laguna