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From Finals to Shopping to Washington DC!

Hi everyone! Debbie and I are incredibly excited for our DC Science Policy Trip to start, although we need to prepare and pack first. I’ve been in Southern California all my life, so I know I am not ready to deal with the harsh temperatures of the East Coast. We plan on spending an entire day shopping on Monday, just for the four days we will be in DC. (We need an excuse to spend our paychecks, after all!) At the moment finals have just ended, so we’re all just trying to relax.

Let me tell you about the trip in the meantime. The annual DC Science Policy trip is sponsored by the Caltech Y. The Caltech Y is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to enrich the lives of Caltech students, website can be found here. Throughout the year, the Y organizes social, community service, activism, and cultural events. The events we have depend on what the student Executive Committee (ExComm) is interested in, because we are the ones who come up with and lead the ideas.

Some events, such as Make A Difference (MAD) Day, the DC Science Policy Trip, Decompression, and Alternative Spring Break, are scheduled to happen at least annually. They just require a student leader to step up and take charge! I can elaborate on more Y events at a later date if requested, but let’s stay on topic for now.

So the goal of the DC Science Policy trip is to expose a group of 20-25 Caltech undergrad and graduate students to the ins and outs of working in science policy. At a research university like Caltech, across the country from the nation’s capital, wenormally wouldn’t get much of an insider look at science in the government. Debbie and I, who participate in leading many Y events, signed up to lead this trip back in the beginning of term. Most of the hotel and flight information is repeated from previous years; what we got to do is pick out and contact the guest speakers we would be meeting with in DC! It’s a very exciting list we’ve gathered this year, and includes Steve Koonin, Undersecretary of Science, and Mike Nelson, the former science Advisor to VP Al Gore.

Elaine To