Manan was a fourth-year student in the Frank Batten School, studying public policy and leadership, when he completed this internship.
“I absolutely recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to other students. You will be able to meet other like-minded peers who share a passion for driving positive change in society. The connections you make with other students and current civic leaders will be beneficial to you in the future."
Why did you choose to intern with the Cooper Center, Sorensen Institute?
I chose to intern with the Sorensen Institute because I wanted to learn how to lead effectively and ethically in the field of public service, particularly at the state and local government levels. I was also interested in becoming exposed to people whose political viewpoints are different from my own and the Sorensen Institute's mission met that desire.
What was your favorite part of participating in this internship?
I enjoyed interacting with policy leaders in the transportation sector of Virginia. We discussed issues relating to multimodal transportation, government funding, and environmental sustainability among other topics. I was fascinated by how transportation is a policy area that is not discussed widely but has a significant impact on people's lives every single day. I'm grateful to every person at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for their service.
What did you learn as a result of this internship?
From this internship, I learned how transportation policy intersects with other policy areas, such as housing, welfare, labor, environmental sustainability, racial equity, and more. Therefore, stakeholders from across different policy areas cannot work individually--they must work together to ensure that the needs of all communities are met. I think if more of us understand that all policy areas are interconnected, there can be more public engagement at the local and state government levels, especially on issues of transportation and infrastructure.
Has your experience helped you in your academic studies, given you skills you can use in a future career or helped you to think differently about your academic and/or career path? If so, how?
This internship gave me the skill of asking more questions. At the beginning of the internship, I was puzzled by the jargon and details that guest speakers utilized to speak about transportation policy, but I did not ask any questions out of fear of looking uninformed. However, I soon realized that the only way I can understand this topic is to ask more questions--that curiosity is a sign of intelligence, not stupidity. By doing so, I better understood transportation policy and gained more confidence in my competence. I will definitely be using this skill more in my future career in public service, as well as in other aspects of life.
Would you recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to future students?
Yes, I absolutely recommend the 22nd Century Scholars Program to other students. You will be able to meet other like-minded peers who share a passion for driving positive change in society. The connections you make with other students and current civic leaders will be beneficial to you in the future. It may not be a "life-changing experience", but the program will help you better understand what career path you wish to take. Hopefully, you will get to experience it in-person!