Grace is a member of Plan International USA’s Youth Advisory Board.
Two weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to take over Congressman David Cicilline’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I was able to witness firsthand the incredible amount of work that goes into running a congressional office, and all of the hard work that goes into bettering the lives of Rhode Islanders and Americans overall.
My experience was part of a Girls’ Takeover with Plan International USA to celebrate International Day of the Girl. Takeovers are all about honoring the power of young people and girls. And on International Day of the Girl, we recognize the important strides forward we’ve made, while having honest conversations about barriers that still prevent girls from fully actualizing their goals and dreams.
I began my day on Capitol Hill by meeting with Congressman Cicilline’s staffers to discuss their work. We talked about the different pathways that each of them took to arrive at their current roles, including how they became focused on particular policy areas in the Congressman’s office. During this time, I was also able to share my areas of interest within Plan International USA and larger career interests. I received great advice about considering a career in politics and the demands and rewards of a busy life in governance.
Throughout the day, I joined in on Congressman Cicilline’s meetings with Rhode Island constituents, witnessed a television interview with the Congressman and was even fortunate enough to go to the Capitol and watch from the galleries as House members voted. At the end of the day, I was able to ask the Congressman specific questions about his vision for Rhode Island and the nation, and discuss my work on Plan’s Youth Advisory Board with him, as well as my upcoming appointment to the organization’s board of directors.
Girls all over the world have the skills and ambition to be leaders in the workplace, yet it can often feel impossible to reach these levels of success without encouragement and guidance along the way. When girls are able to see themselves as future staffers and members of congress, and are given the tools and opportunity to succeed, they are able to improve their own lives as well as the lives of those around them. The benefits to individuals and society are immeasurable.
By welcoming me into his office for a day, Congressman Cicilline and his staff made space for me to not only witness their work, but to begin to dream and plan for ways in which I could contribute to this work — now and in the future. When girls and young women like me are listened to, included and encouraged, the future not only seems brighter, it truly is.