Long before Margaret Wang Rattay ’97 enrolled in the Washington Program, she loved the nation’s capitol. In fact, it was during a high school trip she made to D.C. to attend a week-long conference that Margaret (a Government/Music major at CMC) became interested in the workings of government and how she could become involved.
She got her wish when she enrolled in the Washington Program in the fall of 1995. “I wanted to experience what it would be like to live and work in D.C.,” Maggie says, “all within the parameters that CMC provided.”
Those parameters – full-time internships rooted in serious discussions of contemporary political issues -- have helped to make the Program a proud tradition at CMC for more than four decades and have benefited generations of students at the College.
Indeed, Maggie feels that her participation in the Washington Program helped her during the crucial period all college students experience – the rite of passage into young adulthood.
“I believe that the Program was invaluable for my development as a responsible adult,” she says. “I had to learn how to live on my own (pay rent, sign leases, rent furniture, maintain an apartment), travel to and from work and class (by metro, bus, taxi or walking), as well as everyday responsibilities such as grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and cleaning – all while working and attending classes full-time. My internship allowed me to gain experience in ways that have helped me communicate with others, establish our own non-profit, and work for the betterment of my community.”
After graduating from CMC, Maggie worked in the development office of a non-profit arts organization. “It was a children’s organization and it gave me the opportunity to work hard for a great cause,” she says. “It also provided many connections to other non-profit organizations and work that was important to me. The Washington Program was the crux of all of it.”
After a few years on the job, Maggie decided to become a teacher. “The organization I worked for offered programs to the underserved in the Pasadena area, and I eventually became a teacher at a Title I school in Pasadena,” she says. “Five or so years later, my husband and I founded a church, as well as a non-profit organization in East Los Angeles. I am now teaching at a school in LAUSD.”
For Maggie, the enduring friendships forged during the Washington Program are among her most cherished memories. “With a minimal amount of students all experiencing the same thing, we learned how to depend on each other and work together. And the opportunity to live in our nation’s capitol was invaluable and utterly unforgettable,” she says.
In Maggie’s view: “The Program not only gives you the tools you need to pursue a career, it offers you the opportunity to experience life in a meaningful way; forging new friendships, taking responsibility for your actions, and being open to new ideas.”