We are in the middle of of a global pandemic and at the start of a social revolution. This year has been a roller coaster ride filled with dramatic lows, peaks, and first times. The ride began in March. I thought social distancing would end by May and I would see my friends again. In April, I hoped I would still be able to find a summer internship since many companies and cities had shut down. In May, things finally started to look up. After finishing up my last final for my—now—online classes, I heard back from the Karel Fellowship: they were able to continue the program remotely.

Thank goodness.

I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was relieved knowing I secured a stable source of income, happy knowing I would be a part of an amazing program that was more than a job, eager to take on my first role in communications, and wistful because I was one of the 6 Fellows selected.

Every time my cohort and I met on Zoom, I couldn’t help but daydream about midnight monument walks, Sunday brunches, and the brown bag lunches we could’ve had in Washington, D.C. This nostalgic feeling was quickly replaced by the excitement of getting to know everyone at my host organization, the National League of Cities (NLC), a non-partisan, national nonprofit that advocates for the needs of local governments and its civilians. At first, I was hesitant about my match. I had never heard of NLC before and I wasn’t really interested in local government. After getting to know everyone, including those outside of the Digital Engagement and Marketing Communications department, I realized how important advocacy was on a local level and was encouraged by how passionate everyone was at NLC. In just 4 weeks, I learned so much about municipal issues I had not thought about before by sitting in on meetings, drafting blog posts, and writing advocacy descriptions.

I am truly grateful that both the Fellowship and NLC invested in my growth and learning. They have been incredibly understanding and accommodating, allowing me to learn as I go. And that is what has held me together during this grueling roller-coaster ride: knowing that people still believe in me and that we are all here for each other, striving to make an impact with the work we do each day. While this summer was definitely not what I imagined it to be, I feel warm and motivated by the inspiring people I was fortunate enough to surround myself with, especially during a time like this, when connection and compassion for one another are so valuable.