By TERRENCE SCRAGGINS
Like many applicants to CCAI’s extremely competitive Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program®, I applied to this internship multiple times. The first time I applied was several years ago. It was spring of 2009, and I was a new high school graduate with only a year and a half of college under my belt. I was not yet well-versed on or even ready to take such a big leap into the intimidating Capitol Hill lifestyle. Here I am nearly ten years later, and I made the cut!
If you had asked me ten years ago if I had planned to fail out of school, join the US Navy, return to that same school and recently be admitted to Boise State University’s School of Social Work, I would’ve laughed. Yet, here I am doing it with pride!
Don’t be fooled though; it isn’t all fun and games. There is definitely a lot of fun involved, but there is also so much hard work and dedication asked of me.
When I accepted this internship, I had no idea what to expect. As a foster care alum, I knew from experience that you should never try to set expectations concerning the unknown as it typically only sets you up for disappointment. The Foster Youth Internship Program® is such a unique program. I chose to set no expectations, and for that, I am so glad.
So far, this has been one of the greatest and most humbling experiences I have been fortunate enough to be involved with. I get to tell my story while also working with and meeting individuals who can make an impact—people who have the ability to make history through policies and laws.
Having 11 other brilliant and like-minded adults as fellow FYIs whose stories and backgrounds are similar to mine has been so helpful. When we first arrived, we attended a retreat where we had quality bonding time. I learned so much about myself as well as about each individual’s specific story. Feeling support from peers who have gone and are going through similar aspects of my life was so rewarding. We have a connection many others are unable to attain. We are all using our own life experiences, both positive and negative, to foster change. This is extremely empowering for me! Not to mention the positive vibe we all have. Not once have I felt made fun of or judged for the way I think or what I say.
On a lighter note, having never been to our nation’s capital before this internship, I can’t get enough of D.C. culture! As a beginning/intermediate runner, I’ve begun to incorporate national landmarks into my runs. On our second or third day here, a couple of my fellow cohort members and I ran to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. I’ve also run to the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial and along the Potomac River. I would have to say the most impactful monument I have been to thus far was the WWII Memorial. The history and meaning behind it gave me chills. This memorial shed new light on our country’s history and culture. I hope to visit the African American History Museum as well as the Holocaust Memorial Museum as these are also crucial pages in American history.
What I’m trying to say in not so many words is that CCAI is doing great things. To say I’m in D.C. is a blessing within itself. I sincerely look forward to continuing to immerse myself in our nation’s capital and its intricate culture. I also look forward to helping pave the way for youth in care who need us now more than ever. They are the real heroes and deserve so much credit.
If you haven’t been to our nation’s capital yet, you must go at some point—it will change your life!