September 19, 2016

Navigating Your Dreams

By Lori Hammond

When I left California for Washington, D.C. last week I was filled with two overwhelming emotions: excitement and terror. I was excited because the externship with the AVMA-GRD would allow me to follow my passion of advocacy for animal welfare and issues that face veterinary students, introduce me to incredible veterinarians with unique positions in the government, and give me an opportunity to learn about how policy impacts our profession. But knowing I would be doing all of this with my wheelchair and the infamous D.C. Metro System, I admit I was a bit terrified too.

Having done extensive research on where to stay that would make my daily commute less intimidating but wouldn’t completely break the bank, I settled on a nice AirBnB spot in Silver Spring 384 feet away from the Red Line, the same line for the AVMA office building. Feeling optimistic that my painstaking research in to where I would stay and how I would get around had paid off, I set out my first Sunday in town for a trial run and to find a nice spot to watch football and enjoy a beer. But, after my easy 384 feet roll to the Silver Spring metro stop I was greeted with the following sign:

Silver Spring Metro












Womp. Womp. Was this a funny prank? An omen for the rest of the trip? While this unfortunate elevator outage does add well over an hour to my daily commute, I’ve learned that it’s best to make the most of circumstances you cannot change. Because of this outage I have met many a friendly bus driver whose stories never disappoint (including one who is certain he was visited by aliens at a drive in movie), discovered a brewery I would have otherwise never known about, and saw this hilarious sign:

DC Sign





So, while the D.C. Metro will not be getting my first impression rose, I do admit that in just week one it has taken me to many exciting places.

In just my first visit to the Hill I saw a congressional hearing on the student debt crisis, a fascinating discussion on moving away from the use of animal testing for toxicology and biomedical research, and an enlightening talk on climate smart agriculture (which you can read more about from Amy Smith, my wonderful extern mate). In between all this learning, I have seen Amos Lee perform at the Kennedy Center, and snuck in a visit to the Newseum and American History Smithsonian. And, yes, all this made possible by the Washington, D.C. Metro.

After just one week, I can safely say the terror of navigating this city has subsided, and what remains is the pure excitement for the many adventures and learning opportunities to come.