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WLP 2022 Week 1: Here's To New Beginnings

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

When 10 strangers end up in a room together for the first time, it’s hard to predict how they’ll get along. Will someone be ostracized for being too well-dressed? Will divides emerge over the question of whether Minnesota is a real state? (Wikipedia says yes, but I’m not so sure.) And on a more fundamental level: will the group cohere?

For our cohort of WLP scholars, the answer to that question has become less uncertain over the past week. Thanks to many similarities and a healthy dose of social engineering from dedicated WLP volunteers, our group of 10 has gone from mostly-silent Zoom calls to late nights, morning hikes, and midday meetings—all in less time than it takes to get an email from the federal government.

Being together in D.C. for the first time the WLP’s held an in-person session in two years has allowed us to understand and pursue the ambitions that drive some of us to work long days on the Hill and others to set up consulting calls after work. The WLP has presented the opportunity to suddenly talk to dozens of experts, mentors, and friends who can offer guidance based on their own achievements and mistakes. Nisha Jain, Riya Patel, Saat Alety, Shikha Chivukula, and Anmol Nagar worked especially hard to make orientation a success, and we had great alumni panels on how to make the most of our time in D.C. this summer.

As is often the case, a major problem on our minds has been trying to figure out what comes next. When we were asked what we planned on doing after college, nine of us said law school—maybe immediately, maybe in a few years. It’s already clear that not all of us will stick with that choice. One WLP alumnus I talked to pointed out, “If you want to practice law, be a lawyer. If you don’t, there are other things you can do to build those skills.” But I think the drive for law school is emblematic of a bigger focus across our cohort on how we can make specific change and pay it forward. Law, or a public health master’s, or a strong network of friends and partners, offers a viable way to do those things. We’ve already started this process, but over the summer we’ll form a better sense of what the future looks like through conversations that force us to think about what we actually want, with people who are willing to offer the time and guidance we need.

So our time in D.C. clearly hasn’t been all fun and games. But they’ve certainly made up a large portion of what we’ve been up to. Last week, we:

Had a pizza party with a group of phenomenal WLP alums. Sweated it out at Capital Pride. Made some friends at the AAPI Mixer organized by OCA, APIAVotes, SALDF, and APACS.

Enjoyed Bombay Rookie and some WLP traditions at Jazz in the Garden.

Marveled at the National Museum of Asian Art. Learned how baseball works (still not sure) in box seats at Nationals Park thanks to Saat Alety

Nearly died climbing the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls of the Potomac (not my fault, I promise).

Next week we’re looking forward to meeting mentors, following the WLP’s advice to enjoy what D.C. has to offer, and making a lot of short jokes. More to come.


Daevan Mangalmurti


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