I could hardly contain my excitement when I received an email early in February telling me I was heading to Washington, D.C. in a few months to participate in the annual fraternity and sorority Capitol Hill Visits. Before I knew it, I was flying into D.C. and passing the Washington Monument—I had no idea what an amazing experience I was in for.
The first couple of days in D.C. were spent in training with the Patton-Boggs team to learn the ins and outs of not only lobbying, but what we were lobbying for. The Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act (CHIA) is a non-controversial bill trying to make its way through Congress. Despite its non-controversial nature, there were a lot of facts and points to learn, and the Patton-Boggs team made sure we knew all of it. Training consisted of a series of lectures and then practicing lobbying with our teammate. We spent two days in training, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., all in preparation for the final day.
The morning of our visits to Capitol Hill I was a little nervous. What if I forgot one of the facts? Or what if the Congressional staff members we were meeting with were uninterested or staunchly opposed to the bill? During the car ride into D.C., I kept checking my facts and going over my prepared spiel. At last we made it to Capitol Hill, and we rushed to the first office. Before I could catch my breath we were seated at a round table in Congressman Todd Rokita's office. The legislative assistant we talked to was openly supportive of the bill and incredibly warm. Our group sat and joked with her before we were whisked away to the next office. All of my nervousness had suddenly evaporated—this was going to be fun!
The rest of the day followed in a similar fashion. The legislative assistants we met with were all warm and open and took everything we said seriously. Despite their very busy schedules they still took time to listen to our pitch and even gave us encouraging pointers along the way. I was thrilled at how easy they were to talk to.
Pretty soon we were breezing through offices, and by the time we came to the last one I couldn't believe it was over. We had spent a day successfully lobbying for CHIA and had made some friends along the way. Leaving Capitol Hill I had never felt so excited and proud of the work we had accomplished. We may not have been the driving force that got the bill passed, but we were definitely chipping away at the stone.