In the Rocky & Me series, Seniors reflect on their experiences during their time at Dartmouth.
My introduction to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center is a bit peculiar, as I knew nothing of the center when I first arrived at Dartmouth. Dirt still clinging to my hair from rock climbing on First-Year Trips, I aimlessly wandering around the different booths at the Rocky info session, not realizing how large of an impact the center would have on my time at Dartmouth.
As an eager freshman, I was hesitant to listen to the advice of my first-year academic advisor, who kept encouraging me to branch out of departments that seemed familiar to me. Ultimately, I followed my advisor’s advice and enrolled in Introduction to Public Policy (Pub Pol 5) during my freshman winter. As my interest in government and public policy grew throughout the class, I learned that Pub Pol 5 was actually a prerequisite for a program unknown to me at the time: “First-Year Fellows” (FYF). Through the Rocky FYF program, roughly twenty freshmen spend their summer interning with alumni mentors at various policy-related organizations across Washington, D.C. Following the conclusion of my freshman winter, I decided to apply and was thrilled by my acceptance.
During my summer in D.C., I interned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under Nancy Bowler ‘82 and Jay Matson ’91 – both of whom I keep in touch with to this day and see every time I visit D.C. My mentors tasked me with a summer-long research project in which I learned the ins and outs of the costs associated with sending electricity across state borders in the Northeast. The topic thrilled me, as I applied my passion for economics to a completely new field. Through this unique and initially daunting project, I developed strong analytical and problem-solving skills that have helped me succeed in classes at Dartmouth, interviews, and additional internships.
During FYF, I also made some of my closest friends to this day. From waking up at 4 A.M. to attend a Supreme Court hearing to kayaking on the Potomac River to debating the constitutionality of the Volcker Rule, the other Fellows and I solidified our friendships and returned to Dartmouth our sophomore year with a newfound sense of community. While my time in D.C. now feels far behind me, I draw upon and treasure the skills, friendships, and memories I gained from the experience every day.
As a First-Year Fellow and subsequently as the Student Assistant for the Class of 2021 First-Year Fellows, I developed a close relationship with Eric Janisch, a Program Officer for Co-Curricular Programs at the Rockefeller Center. Throughout my sophomore spring, Eric and I worked together to strengthen the FYF program based on my experience the previous year. Eric thoughtfully and respectfully considered every piece of feedback I offered, and it was rewarding to see my suggestions incorporated into the program. In addition to coordinating FYF, Eric also served as the Internship Coordinator. He spent hours in Rocky helping me brainstorm possible internships that would interest me and sharing alumni contact information with me. When I obtained an internship at the World Bank for my junior fall, Eric encouraged me to apply for off-term funding from the Rockefeller Center to support my internship experience. His continued guidance and investment in my personal, academic, and professional success made me realize he is not just a mentor, but also a friend.
You could say that I have participated in the full alphabet soup of Rockefeller Center Programs, from Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP), to Global Leadership Program (RGLP), to Civic Skills Training (CST) and First-Year Fellows. Each has taught me the importance of professionalism, compassion, and global-mindedness, and I encourage current students to take advantage of the diverse and rewarding programs that Rocky offers.
As I leave the cocoon of Dartmouth and enter the real world, however, I take with me not just these valuable skills but more importantly an appreciation for community and meaningful relationships. Through my involvement in the Rockefeller Center, I have developed life-long friendships with peers and mentors. These friendships challenge me to be a more thoughtful, confident, and mindful version of myself, while always making me feel at home. I am incredibly grateful for the support the Rockefeller Center has given me during my time at Dartmouth, and I cannot wait to continue being a part of the Rocky Family… even as I transition from student to alum.
-Written by Victoria Meyer '20