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Students Meet Sen. Barbara Mikulski

November 02, 2015
Kaitlynn Ecker ’18 and Rachel Martinez ’18 reflect on their visit to the U.S. Senate. As part of the Gender and Leadership class, taught by Professors Michael Harvey and Erin Anderson, students traveled to the Capitol to meet Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski and her staff and see the Senate in action.


Going to the Senate office and meeting Senator Mikulski and all of her staff was a great and enriching experience, and I am glad that our school is committed to giving its students these kinds of opportunities. Politics were never really something that interested me; they actually scared me more than anything. This trip really showed me that not all politicians are egocentric and untrustworthy; rather, some are extremely dedicated to the people they serve and truly care about our wellbeing.

We were introduced to Mikulski’s “hideaway,” which was really amazing to get a sneak peak into her own world and see all of her achievements and accomplishments and how many lives she has truly impacted. Senator Mikulski was very genuine and someone who remained true to her values but also really took other’s feelings and situations into consideration. She said that she would sometimes read something in the newspaper that touched her or that she felt strongly about, and she would call that person and say she wanted to help make something happen, or turn it into a bill that could be passed. The many pictures, ranging from Clay Aiken to the Queen, showed a personal touch and lit up the room with her memories.

When we went to see an actual bill trying to be passed, it was a very different experience than I would have expected. It was all very casual, with different people bustling in and out, socializing with one another, and laughing. The highlight of a lot of the students’ day was when John McCain and Bernie Sanders gave each other a high five and a pat on the back. The camaraderie between everyone seemed very genuine despite some people being affiliated with different parties, which was comforting to me. I had always thought that politics was an uptight arena, but it turns out it can be fun as well. This experience really encompassed the liberal education that Washington College strives for, to be open to new things even it is out of our comfort zones, to be courageous, and encourage communication and learning.

—Kaitlynn Ecker, class of 2018 Sociology major; Business and Dance minors


Meeting Senator Barbara Mikulski was one of the most enlightening and interesting experiences I have ever had. As a class, we got to learn about the reality for women in the Senate over the last few decades from a woman who herself experienced what it was like. When Senator Barbara Mikulski joined the Senate, there were no women’s restrooms, and the male Senators fought back against allowing the women into their gym. This was only 30 years ago! I had thought that women had gained a lot more equality before then. Senator Mikulski also explained how she championed for women’s rights and how far women have come in the Senate since she has been there. When she first got there, there was only one other female Senator, and now there are twenty!

This visit really brought everything that we are learning in Gender and Leadership to the real world, the here and now. It has opened my eyes to how much more progress society needs to make before becoming truly gender-equal. Most of all, however, it has shown me that women can overcome the institutional and internal barriers that we face and become so much more than anyone could ever imagine. 

Because of our visit with the Senator, I have applied for her internship and hope to one day run for office, too. She has made so much progress for women in government and in Maryland, and I hope to someday also be able to make a positive impact on society that leads us toward gender equality.

—Rachel Martinez, class of 2018 Sociology major


Last modified on Dec. 11th, 2015 at 3:24pm by .