Back in the fall of 1991, Matthew Bibbens ’92 gained something from the Washington Program that he can sum up in one word: Confidence. “I learned to have confidence in myself and developed the ability to see the Program as an opportunity to apply what I had learned at CMC in more of a real world setting,” he says.
Bibbens, who graduated from CMC with an Economics-History dual major, admits that his academic trajectory at CMC “lagged a bit.”
“I grew up in Central California, and came from a public high school, and I did struggle a bit in the transition,” he says. “However, by my junior year, I was much more comfortable, and was looking to take on a new experience. At that time, my primary interests laid at the intersection of economics and government, so targeting an internship with the Federal Reserve through the Washington Program made a lot of sense to me. However, because I was coming to this a bit late, I ended up going to D.C. in the fall semester of my senior year (fall 1991). Generally, I would recommend against being off campus during your senior year, but it ended up working out well for me.”
That things “worked out well” for Bibbens may be a bit of a modest understatement. He currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel to CMC.
“Because I was in D.C. my senior year, and because I had not planned this out very well in advance, I was not positioned for the job recruitment cycle on campus,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to receive an offer from the Fed to come back for their two-year research assistant program. However, I was not wise enough to take it. Thus, I ended up with a ‘gap’ year and a default choice to go to law school.”
Despite the vicissitudes of roads perhaps not taken, Bibbens feels that participation in the Program was instrumental in how his career developed.
“First of all, and I am not saying this will be the case for everyone, my semester in DC was my best and most rewarding experience at CMC,” he says. “Second, as I said, my experience in D.C. played a major role in developing confidence within myself and in broadening my own internal ‘horizons’ with respect to the opportunities I could strive for post-CMC.”
Among Bibbens’ fondest memories of participation in the Program is the bond that developed amongst his Claremont group that fall. “We had a great mix of students from across The Claremont Colleges, and we had a wonderful time together – from classroom discussions, to ‘crashing’ the Clarence Thomas review sessions in the senate, to living in and exploring D.C.,” he says. “Although we have not necessarily stayed connected as a group, we had a great semester together.
“D.C. is just a great place to be when you are in your early 20s,” Bibbens continues, “and the Washington Program provides a tremendous opportunity to gain direct exposure and involvement in most every area of our society – it is not just for government majors.”