As our trip draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the past week and feel incredibly grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the first Brainy Break. This week was full of irreplaceable experiences; for me, a few of the highlights were dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill, The Pentagon tour, and the tour of the West Wing of the White House.
The dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill was with very distinguished A-State alumni, and I was thinking what in the world can I say to them that they will be interested in and want to talk about. Well, I was worried for absolutely no reason. I had dinner with Lieutenant Colonel Joel Garrison and Mrs. Jennifer Cole, both of whom work at the Pentagon, and they were just wonderful. Here, I fully realized the power of networking; after talking with Jennifer and Joel for just thirty minutes they were ready to help all of us in any way they could.
The day next day, a small group of us went on a tour of The Pentagon lead by Joel and Jennifer. This was such a cool experience because they could tell us personal stories about certain aspects of The Pentagon, which made the tour very unique. Although we spent almost an hour and a half in The Pentagon, we didn’t see close to even a fourth of it. We did see the 9/11 memorial, which is actually in the same spot the plane hit The Pentagon so that added a greater weight to an already somber memorial. We also went into the Hall of Heros which is a room dedicated to more than 3,460 recipients of the Medal of Honor and can be used for promotions, retirements, and other types of award ceremonies. A huge thank you must be given to Jennifer and Joel for giving us a personalized tour of The Pentagon!
A-State alumni Courtney Rowe, serves as special assistant to President Barack Obama for message planning and was able to give us a tour of the West Wing of the White House. We went through security at the front gate, and she then led us into the Roosevelt Room, which is routinely used by President Obama for meetings with his staff. As we were leaving the Roosevelt Room, Courtney opened the door to the Oval Office and we each had a chance to see inside. Next, she took us into the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, where White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest gives daily briefings and President Obama occasionally addresses the press. This was an extremely cool “behind the scenes” tour, and we are very grateful to Courtney for taking time out of her schedule to show us around!
The most thanks, of course, goes to Chad, Rebecca, and Jennifer without whom this trip would have never happened! Thank you for an unforgettable experience on Brainy Break 2016!