I traveled to Washington D.C on the 26th and 27th of September to attend the Davidson Fellows Reception. The summer of 2013 I had received an email earlier from the Davidson Institute that I had won their $25,000 college scholarship. Needless to say, I was quite excited, and extremely grateful for such an award.
On the 26th, my family and I toured Washington D.C. I was not a stranger this time around though - I had already came to D.C less than 6 months earlier on my invitation to the annual EPA P3 Expo. However, this time around, I had more time to spend looking through many of Washington's notable landmarks, such as the Smithsonian Museum system, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument.
However, the most exciting part of the day was having the chance to meet with our state representatives. Most of my fellow Davidson Fellow friends were able to meet with their state senator. For me however, the funny thing was that the senator representing Texas, Ted Cruz, was in the midst of a furious debate over healthcare.
Just days before, Senator Cruz was the subject of national attention over his "filibuster" against the Affordable Care Act, speaking for over nearly 21 hours nonstop. Because of this, I couldn't meet with the Senator quite at that moment, but I was able to meet with his staffer, Jeff Murray.
We had a pleasant time talking with each other, and later took a photo. He gave me some insight into what happened behind the scenes on the day of the filibuster. Apparently, he, and many of the Senator's assistants spent months compiling material into binders which could be read on the day of the filibuster. We had a good laugh over it all, and I walked away from the meeting feeling very glad to have met Mr. Daniels. He assured me also, that the Senator would be glad to talk to me if I returned after 2 hours.During that time period, I toured the library of congress, and the Capitol Building. Soon after, I returned to the Senate building, as just as Mr. Daniels promised, I was finally able to meet the legendary Senator Ted Cruz. I was surprised how strong and alert the Senator was, despite just having returned from a debate, and scarcely having recovered from the restlessness incurred from giving a 21 hour filibuster. I wanted to take a picture with the Senator, who instantly agreed.
When I left, he gave me his business card, and told me to keep up the good work. I left the office, having met both Senator Cruz and Mr. Daniels, realizing that although I might not agree with their ideological stances on governmental policy, I knew that they were very nice and extremely smart people.
The 27th was the day of the reception, taking place at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The place was an architectural marvel, with water fountains gushing from the front, and the doorways begging the guests of the reception to enter. However, before entering,all the Davidson Fellows had to pose for pictures with their families. Afterwards, everyone was ushered in. From that moment on, everything seemed to fly by very quickly. An opening speech was given by the Davidson Institute Founder Bob Davidson. Afterwards, each of the Davidson Fellow Winners (total of 20 people) gave short speeches of their own. I came up to the podium with a speech of my own as well, giving my thanks to the Davidson Institute, but also to my parents who were integral to my success, and my 2 sisters who have been with me every step of the way as well. Everyone soon broke for dinner, which was given buffet style at the reception, and within an hour afterwards, the reception had officially concluded. That night at the hotel, all of the Davidson Fellows gathered together in a conference room for the last time, and we exchanged a few words with each other. Trading facebook contacts and phone numbers, we all promised to keep in touch. In my heart, I knew this was probably not the last time I would see these people - I knew very strongly that given our commonly shared interests, our paths would cross each other's many more times for the years to come.
You can see my profile in the Davidson Fellow's page, as well as more info about the Davidson Institute by clicking on the link : http://www.davidsongifted.org/Article/Davidson_Fellows___2013_Fellow_Thabit_Pulak_487.aspx
The video I made, as part of the Davidson Fellows Application is available for viewing here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-w7pLzyXhg