CSUF Student's Passion Leads to Good Works in DC Internship

Rachel Herzog Cal State Fullerton student interning in Washington DC
CSUF student Rachel Herzog at the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. Rachel is in DC to do an internship that aides sufferers of mental illnesses and their families. She is also taking classes focusing on political issues while interning there as part of the California State DC Scholars Program.

Interning is a rite of passage for many college students and some internships have a profound impact on students by shaping the way they view the world and their place in it. One Cal State Fullerton student, Rachel Herzog, is currently doing one of those internships and is having an experience of a lifetime in our nation’s capital.

Rachel’s search for a consequential internship led her to the California State DC Scholars Program, where she found an internship she loves and it has enabled her to attend school in Washington, DC for the spring 2017 semester. In this program, Rachel is currently interning for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization that provides education, support groups, and courses about mental illness across the country. NAMI also has a team that advocates for individuals with mental illnesses.

Rachel’s tasks for NAMI consist of working in the call center where she counsels individuals in distress and their loved ones. It’s not an easy job but Rachel is the kind of person that loves to take on challenges.

Rachel has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at NAMI, “[Working at NAMI] is dynamic because every call is different and every person has their own situation.” The experience has also been one she is quite passionate about, as obstacles she has once gone through are “struggles that are being used to help others.” If possible, Rachel would like to align her interests in mental health issues and entrepreneurship to improve the care in that industry.

Rachel also has been able to enjoy some of DC’s historic and must-see sights, including the presidential inauguration, “I have a list outlining everything I want to do and see while I’m living in DC, including museums, memorials, historic restaurants, cultural events, and heritage trails, and I have a goal to check at least seven items off every week.”

Checking those seven items off every week can be a difficult task because Rachel interns during the day until 4 p.m., and then attends class in the evenings. Per the requirements of the California State DC Scholars Program, Rachel is taking a variety of political science classes; ones that have challenged her with a unique selection of topics and advanced discussions.

While the classes are challenging, Rachel wouldn’t have it any other way: “It’s unique, unlike anything I’ve done before. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of new things. There are topics I’ve never learned about before and this program allows me to do that in a special way…. The insights I’m gathering are relevant to more than just my education or career, but actually to all of life.”

Upon returning to California after the spring semester, Rachel looks forward to spending more time working and staying involved on the Cal State Fullerton campus. She will also continue to work with CSUF Startup Incubator graduate Aidtree by helping it launch its philanthropically inspired service in and around Cal State Fullerton. While uncertain about post-graduation plans, Rachel is passionate about working in travel, e-commerce, and mental health-related fields, and also plans to pursue her Master’s degree in the near future.

Rachel enthusiastically recommends the California State DC Scholars Program to prospective and current students who are looking to step out of their comfort zone and gain real life experience before graduating. “It isn’t necessarily for everyone, as the nature of living in DC is to be immersed in a very political environment, but the rich history of the United States that is so well preserved and accessible makes it a wonderful, unique experience… Participation has made available for me copious exciting resources and a brilliant network, as well as the experience of a lifetime!”

Way to go Rachel!

Written by Traci Muldoon. Edited by Travis Lindsay.


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