I am a high school United States Government teacher at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, D.C., and I decided to apply for the White House Internship Program because I wanted to continue making a difference. Leaving my students for a semester was a very difficult decision to make but I knew that interning within the Office of the First Lady and helping to continue the great work she and her staff had been championing would be a priceless experience that would allow me to return to teaching an enlightened, highly motivated person.
As a woman of color from the rural South I always desired to learn as much as possible, become educated and travel to places I was never afforded the opportunity to visit while growing up in a single-parent household. A first-generation college student, I attended college and went on to attend graduate school at Harvard University in order become the best teacher I could possibly be. It was during graduate school that I learned more about First Lady Michelle Obama and the work she desired to do for youth and adults in our county. I admired her story, ambition and drive; I knew that I could work hard in helping her achieve her goals as First Lady if given the opportunity to join her team as an intern.
When I was notified of my acceptance, I was very excited and shocked. I was pleased to know someone felt I could add value to an already immaculate team. Once I started the internship, my experience was filled with hard work and life lessons. I was afforded the opportunity to complete tasks that I could not have imagined completing when I first arrived in August. I enjoyed the speakers series, brown bag series and various White House events very much but, most of all, I enjoyed meeting the people who work for the President and First Lady. Diverse in background, open-minded, and welcoming, it was very humbling to meet individuals who believe so whole-heartedly in the power of change.
Overall, the experience was life-changing. Two years into my teaching career, I finally understood the true significance in my love for teaching United States Government to high school students residing in one of the nation’s most troubled neighborhoods. I realized from my experience that although I came from a small town with few opportunities, there are individuals less than 3 miles away from Anacostia Senior High School who are working hard to ensure that people like me and my students are afforded opportunities of academic success.
Many individuals may be debating whether or not this internship program is worth the experience or time away from your current occupation. My advice is simple. Apply before the March 13 deadline, and do not think twice about your decision to do so. If you are accepted into this program, you will never regret it. It is very much worth the experience.
Tina L. Fletcher was a Fall 2010 White House Intern in the Office of the First Lady.