Raven's Blog: The Journey to the Nation's Capital

Raven Richardson

Raven Richardson
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June 21, 2011

Soon after the ending the 2011 season, Texas Tech junior shortstop Raven Richardson began another season of sorts with her summer-long internship with The Washington Center, a national organization based in the nation's capital that provides college students professional internships and academic seminars.

One of 30 NCAA student-athletes selected, Richardson, who is now in Washington, D.C., will provide occasional updates of her journey throughout the summer.

June 11, 2011

Upon arrival to Washington D.C., I was both anxious and excited. I was never nervous because I knew that I had nothing to lose. What an experience this has already been for me.

The first night I arrive my flight was delayed, which delayed all my other forms of transportation. I did not arrive at my living site until 2 a.m. After midnight, you will not receive any help due to everyone sleeping and avoiding his or her phone. This leaves me with only two options which consisted of paying $109 dollars for three hours of "rest," or saving money by sleeping in a bathroom stall. If you know me, three hours is not worth $109 dollars.

This first week I am conditioning my mind and body to start working on East Coast time. I struggled for a good two days. You would struggle too if you were a night owl only getting 3-4 hours of sleep, right? However, it was great getting all settled into this awesome "soon to be" experience. I just have to learn the complex, yet simple metro system.

The first two days of being in the metro area I wanted to be a tourist and witness all the cool monuments on Constitution Avenue and other places in the area. I saw where Martin Luther King Jr. had spoken, the White House, and the Supreme Court among others.

My arrival happened to fall on Memorial Weekend and what an adventure. A group of interns and I went to a free concert on Capital Hill. It was great to see so many people of all backgrounds come out to celebrate our current soldiers and veterans. The concert consisted of Colin Powell, Kris Allen, B.B. King, Yolanda Adams, and Forrest Whittaker to name a few. Whittaker and other actors and actresses gave performances of real stories of soldiers who had lost their life in battle. Although the actors were on stage, the families of each person represented were in the crowd. The crowd roared with excitement when anyone on the stage mentioned Osama bin Laden's name. Navy Team 6, the Navy seals who were called upon to raid bin Laden's compound, was also in the crowd. Everyone gave this group a standing ovation.

The next day was officially Memorial Day, and the concert the night before encouraged me to give thanks to our troops. I chose to spend my day at the Washington Nationals game, and then pay a visit to the Arlington Cemetery. Roy Halladay was starting the game and had not given up a homerun in 88.1 innings. Halladay's streak came to a close when the Nationals scored most of their runs with one swing of the bat. Although Halladay was amazing to witness in action, it was miserable sitting in the 95-degree heat. I have never sweated so much in my life! Okay, maybe I have, but that is beside the point. Anyhow, the Phillies won the game, 6-5, and on I went to Arlington Cemetery.

When I arrived at the cemetery, my facial expression changed instantly. The cemetery was not just a place where soldiers were buried. It had so much history and symbolism behind it. I was very emotional looking at all the tombstones with every single tomb having an American Flag flying in front of its name. But where I released tears was at the Pentagon Group Burial Marker. This marker marked the lives lost on September 11, 2001. It was just a heartbreaking to know that so many lives were lost.

Now, on to discussing my "intern" life. I could not have asked for a better non-profit organization to intern with. I am interning with the Empowering Center for Employment and Career Development and The Building for the Future Academy. This is a non-profit organization that helps mentally challenged high-school aged kids graduate. Our job as interns is to plan events, update social media sites, plan field trips for the kids, and constantly updating the kids with job openings, job fairs, and career development workshops, among other duties. The government only gives the Empowering Center $30,000 per child that has to last one full year. This is just not enough funds to support the program. You pay for food each day, the kids' stipend checks, monthly metro cards, the staff, and all other expenses. So, we are in the process of planning events with the program's business partners and the community to help raise awareness. We want to establish a powerful brand for this program that has already grown in its three-year existence. The program started with seven kids which has now become 55 kids. I am a firm believer of the direction that this program is headed. I am especially excited about my internship duties here because we have the freedom of putting all of our ideas into practice. Our supervisor has given us the permission to treat this non-profit as our own. If you know anything about me, I treat all things as sky being the limit.

That is a pretty good synopsis about my first week in Washington D.C., definitely more to come! I hope Red Raider Nation is having a blessed summer vacation thus far.

Wreck `em Tech and Guns Up!


June 21, 2011

For a good three days, we have been in meetings discussing from the ground up how to go about creating our first event called "The Corporate Olympics." We have discussed things like companies we will be asking for sponsorships, what games will be played at the event, what type of design for our brochures, creating sponsorship packages, and so much more. The hardest part is on its way because we have to find at least eight companies to donate their time, their workers, and a $1,000 registration fee to support our non-profit organization. This task is hard because asking comes with an intimidation factor which is the fear of rejection, or hearing more people say "No" than "Yes."

My task for this week was to create social media sites for our non-profit organization. It is bare and shares no love from our community...yet. Please feel free to go on Twitter (@empowering_ctr), Facebook, or Linkedin and add us. I wanted to take on this role of social media because I chose to direct my time to other more "important" things in life. However, even with school, athletics, and my social life, I realized I can directly correlate to social media sites in some aspect. Social media is becoming a necessity for climbing the student to employee ladder and is sometimes a ticket forward towards success.

A motto that my boss has said to us interns is "If you don't play, then it's impossible to win." This is the motto I use every day at work. This motto is used for every task I have been assigned.

Washington D.C. is a great place for networking for personal or work-related reasons, so I am taking the city by storm and am beginning to meet people who can help me reach my goals, and for our non-profit organization to grow. This experience so far has made me realize that working for a non-profit organization is something that I am definitely interested in. What draws me closer to wanting to live in this metropolitan area is the discounts that non-profits receive for just being a non-profit. People in Washington D.C. strongly support and value non-profit organizations. Most non-profit funding comes from individual donors and not the government. Though staff do not receive a corporate or private sector salary, the benefits that one can receive are great. I learned this week that non-profits get a substantial tax break by the government. The opportunity to network is out of this world, and you work for important causes.

So, this is my week in a nutshell. Not too much of a tourist this week as I have been working and enjoying the time with my friends here living the dream. Never thought I would say this, but I actually like working. Working for The Empowering Center has helped me realize that life is not about living a lavish lifestyle. It is mostly about making the world a better place. It has helped me realize that time flies when you invest your time in something you strongly believe in.

God Bless and Wreck 'em Tech :)


June 27, 2011

The goal for this week was preparing to defeat rejection. For my internship we have to "cold call" major corporations. Our job is to ask companies if they would like to provide a substantial amount of money to The Empowering Center or join our annual Corporate Olympics event by purchasing a team spot. Although a daunting task, this is an opportunity to grow both socially and emotionally. Not only will this task improve my communication skills, this process will improve my abilities to sale, persuade, and to fear no one! This week will be a busy one that consists of a lot of talking, rejections, decisions, pressure, and agreements. Let's say I am ready to rumble. I am ready to really evaluate myself in terms of my true strengths and weaknesses.

During the course of the week, I have made some calls...what a draining experience. People have two ears and one mouth and do not use them accordingly. In the middle of my elevator speech, I begin talking to myself due to people hanging up. I have never left so many messages in my life! I am crossing my fingers that next week I begin hearing back from some of the people I reached out to. Once we develop an interest with companies, we will be sending out our event fliers, registration forms, and a sponsorship package that were our own creation. Hopefully we will be sending out a lot of mail this upcoming week.

As far as my social life is concerned, pizza and I have become the best of friends. There is something about the District of Columbia that has created a monster (my fast metabolism) inside of this body of mine. Pizza, pizza, pizza, this routine has not changed much lately.

However, the highlight of my week has definitely been riding the metro. This drunk man chose me out of the crowd of many to tell me, "I will see you in Hell." This statement derives from parts of my life decisions not fitting his values or morals. But in times like this, all you do is smile, wish him a happier life, and walk away with your head held high. This was my exact routine. I am still having a blast out here in D.C., and I am so looking forward to Independence Day in the nation's capital.

Wreck `em Tech and God Bless.


July 8, 2011

I am going to begin this article discussing my pretty cool weekend. This weekend I am certain will be the highlight of my time in Washington D.C.

The most important reservation of the night was seeing my JUCO coach, Stacy Iveson. Coach Iveson was honored with a coaching position for the softball junior national team. The junior national team had lost both battles with the USA national team in a double- header match. Coach Iveson and I were chatting a bit between games, and it was great to catch up. She has officially made me consider trying to get my one-year eligibility back and is one of the few people who had believed in me from my darkest to my sunshine days. She believed in me when I hadn't. I was blinded and couldn't see my own potential. She is one of the reasons that I am who I am today. Today, I am a believer in myself.

After my Friday of hanging with friends and the one-of-a-kind, Coach Iveson, it was time to prepare myself to watch Kid Cudi live in concert. Understand one thing, Kid Cudi can give an AMAZING performance. The bright lights flashing to the music while my favorite rapper was engaged in his creations made it a show to remember. This whole night has been one to remember, with it ending with a perfect thunderstorm.

Sunday, I did not do anything besides watch the Casey Anthony trial, eat, sleep, and do homework...all day and all night. However, the day of our nation's Independence was spectacular! Never have I ever been to a place where 1.5 million people were at the same location wearing red, white, and blue. Some of my friends had to wake up early and leave early (7 a.m.) to get a spot on Capitol Hill for a concert that began at 9 p.m., while others volunteered with an art foundation by passing out patriotic t-shirts. I was supposed to be at both places, but I had to get my rest for what was about to be madness.

Okay, so let me discuss work. Work was a success this week. We not only accomplished signing four teams for our Corporate Olympics event, but we also had guest speakers come by to talk to the kids who are taking summer school. This week for the kids was "Employment Week." Employment Week is a way for the kids to learn the professionalism of a job. The kids were faced with mock interviews given by people from around the community and were honored with professionals coming to give insights on their daily lives. Those who had come to speak were an electrician (Art), a personal trainer (Charles), a public relations business owner (Nicole), and the police. Every speaker was very insightful, but when it was the police officers' turn to speak, facial expressions changed instantly. The police definitely had hit some sore spots with the kids. It is safe to say that most of the kids at the Empowering Center hated the police. Some thought that since there are some bad cops in the world, all cops were corrupt. These cops had seen familiar faces in the crowd, but they touched on how they were human, too. They made a good point saying to these kids that they arrest based on crime and not by how someone looks. Some police officers, not all are blindfold to such stereotypes. They do not look at someone and judge them because they look like a criminals. They base their decisions on one's actions. The kids did not take this too lightly and started becoming very defensive. The cops stayed patient with the kids, trying to reach out that some cops really do want to have safer communities. Most of the cops in the room had had an altercation with a cop in their youth or as legitimate cops. When this view was presented, it gave the kids a different outlook on every cop in the room. I felt that this was where the kids came to a mutual understanding, rather than staying so angry and defensive.

My week has been a week from a movie. It had some highs, as well as lows. But, I want to have all my Red Raiders to have as many highs as possible.

Wreck `em Tech and God Bless.


July 13, 2011

This week has been an interesting week. At work we were assigned tasks that are minor details for our event. I was in charge of creating our raffle ticket design, the raffle prize packages, and choosing food vendors to cater our event. It was a very relax weekend, a calm before the storm type of week. We have collaborated six out of eight teams for our event, hoping to close a few deals in our last 10 days. It is looking very likely that we are going to exceed our goal which was to have eight teams with The Empowering Center team included.

Another event that has been brought to our attention this week is teaming up with The House of Darkness. The House of Darkness is an event management business that hosts fashion shows. The fashion show that we discussed is a charity event that brands The Empowering Center. A percentage of all money earned from purchased tickets to tip jars will be given as a gift to The Empowering Center from The House of Darkness. As a unit we are thinking about participating in this event because we have nothing to lose. The work is being done for us; we are just bringing our name and our friends for one good night of adventure.

As far as the social life is concerned, this week has been yet another good week of activity. This week I have had the honor to visit NASA the day before Atlantis (the last shuttle) takes off. NASA was very intriguing and was close to being magical. We had a chance to see the cleanest room in the world. This clean room is 100 times cleaner than a hospital surgery room.

According to www.nasa.gov, "The clean room and the elaborate steps taken before entering it are vital to the success of every Hubble mission. Even a speck of dust or a fingerprint could severely damage the sensitive telescope components and instruments, so the clean room must filter out these harmful contaminants. Unlike personal digital cameras, a smudge or speck of dust on Hubble's optics and sensors can't be easily cleaned, especially once the instruments have reached orbit. Besides being extremely clean, this facility is also the only place large enough to house Hubble's components and simulators, as well as all the equipment needed to prepare the components for launch. In fact, the Goddard clean room is big enough to house two space shuttle payloads at the same time. The clean room is now home to the James Webb Space Telescope. This telescope is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope. The project is working to a 2018 launch date. Webb will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. Webb's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range."

Another cool adventure taken this week was witnessing the Dalai Lama speak on Capitol Hill. The Dalai Lama was surprisingly a funny guy. He had so many great things to say that made you think about who you are, and where do you stand in your community. A couple key points that he had mentioned was fear and suspicion block humans from reaching success and happiness. People should not try to find happiness from our outside world. Happiness comes from within. Being happy within yourself bring harmony and inner peace. Dalai Lama compared mental attitude to sports. Mental attitude is everything. But the Dalai Lama said in sports, hard work gets you to the top, but your mental approach gets you through every physical component. Your human intelligence should be used properly because your human intelligence helps you gain peace of mind. Dalai Lama stayed on the topic of warm heartedness for a very long time. He has approached warm heartedness and social concern for others as a self-confidence booster. Fear and distrust of others send insecurities. Self-centeredness is against our human nature. Anger and human fear eat away at our insides. We all need to love others as we would ourselves. Pay attention to our inner beauty. Outside appearance are not best, it is whom you are inside. Focusing so much on you outer appearance is a problem. Although the Dalai Lama said, "It is almost impossible in human life to not have problems," one should look authentic and feel authentic. A genuine smile is the tool to love and happiness. Problems make matters worse because you lack an understanding of reality. However, the best enjoyment from the Dalai Lama's speech was, "Those who say I, I, I or me, me, me or my, my, my are at a greater risk of a heart attack." These people are your self-centered people. These people care very little for others. These people have not found whom they are within because they have accomplished "success" without.

I have also explored the Columbia Heights farmer's market and The National Portrait Gallery, which had an exhibit with modern famous people: Oprah, Jay-Z, Tori Morrison, George Strait, Kate Moss, etc. It was very cool to know that I know who these people actually are, instead of paintings of people who are dead and in my perspective unimportant. Now, people like Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, our Presidents and others, obviously do not fit into my dead and unimportant category.

This week has been a very chill week full of excitement and random activity. I am enjoying everyday with friends and staff members from my job. I have concluded this week that the District of Columbia is where I want to be. I am planning on taking tours to nearby universities for graduate school and have my eye on George Washington University for Event Planning and Public Relations or even law. I love D.C., so much rich history and tradition.

Well, Go Red Raiders!!! As the new school year slowly creeps up on us, I have been getting excited about watching Texas Tech Football, Women's Soccer, and Women's Volleyball games. I am looking forward to the fall sports season in the near future.

Wreck `em Tech and God Bless!

July 19, 2011

The weekends in D.C. just keep getting better and better! Friday night I made dinner for all of my friends to join but only four could find a way to make it. I consider this a success because I did not have to host too many people and that meant more food for our apartment.

Sunday was a wonderful rest day. I went to bed at 6 p.m. due to too much Women's World Cup Finals (USA v Japan). I seriously was super depressed when we lost taking penalty kicks. Not only was I in tune with my emotions, but the USA players as well. I know how it feels to have pressure on your back. So many people are watching you, and if you do not live up to the expectation, you feel as if you've failed. Yes, on Sunday I felt like the Americans failed to bring back the World Cup, but lets gander at the positives. The games leading up to the World Cup finale were phenomenal. Not only did this World Cup final boast a staggering 13.5 million viewers watching that match on ESPN, but Twitter also has a new record for number of tweets per second (7,166). The previous record was 6,939 tweets, set just after midnight in Japan on New Year's Day. Yet another positive is that America is starting to look past gender and view sports as equally exciting to watch, male or female. The American women's team lifted soccer in the final seconds of the Brazil game. I cannot explain the excitement that I felt running through my veins. Thanks to stoppage time, a little bit of luck, and the heart and confidence of Team USA, we scored on the last attempt to tie the game. From this point on everything seemed surreal. At this point, I honestly have never felt more proud to be American.

As for my internship, no excitement has taken place this week. Collectively, we are touching up on the last pieces to our kickoff Corporate Olympics event. It has been frustrating at times and it has taken confidence to get all the hard stuff taken care of. I am content when I say this; I never again want the task of cold calling people who do not have any direct correlation with the organization that I am working for. I would not mind cold calling people who know of our company, a company with leverage, but this was not the case for The Empowering Center. We set up a scenario field to give us a visual of how it will look the day of. But I definitely will have to go shopping for some strong sunscreen; a heat wave will be making its way next week. It is supposed to reach 101 degrees on Friday. This is also the date we gave the Corporate Olympics. I will look like a burnt piece of toast after Friday. Thank goodness I will be in New York after this event to cool off some. I have been jam packed with homework, so I needed a day to myself to learn to multitask with school and work. It did not turn out as well as I would have liked, but you cannot win them all.

Fellow Red Raiders, have a great week, God bless and Wreck `em Tech!

July 29, 2011

So, hard work really does pay off! This week for work we were just adding the finishing touches to our event. I took this as giving myself a calm before the storm, or to put it simply, a relaxing week to let loose a little bit.

It was so good to see the event that you created from rock bottom come to life in a big way. This week was the week of this deadly heat wave traveling among our nation. Being concerned about the welfare of our participants over ourselves, rescheduling was looking like our next move. Out of the eight teams we had registered, two teams had to cancel their submissions due to witnessing the weather report. Rescheduling our Corporate Olympics event seemed like the most logical thing to do. However, this would entail letting everyone from our DJ to the players to our vendors that we had to move this event back one week. Yeah, this definitely could not happen. Most of our staff had already planned trips and other things. It was looking as if we just were going to have to brave the heat. Out of all days this week, every news station was saying that Friday, July 22 was going to peak at the hottest day so far this summer. The heat index for Friday was to reach 122 degrees. Although this was going to be a day dedicated to staying hydrated and staying cool, it was possible to play in this weather, if you go about it in the right way. Our flier that has been sent out to numerous corporations stating that this event was a "field day." To put things simply, we had to move soccer indoors, and add basketball to our regimen. We do not want anyone to pass out or die on our watch. For circumstances like this, this is why waivers must be sign, or you will quickly find yourself in trouble. We all just wanted to have fun while playing for The Empowering Center. All in all, our event was more than a success. We received so many compliments about our event, how much fun it has been, when the next event will be held, etc. Myself being a tough critic, I give our event a B+. The lower letter grade is due to bad weather. Overall, our event was a success for a first year attempt.

After the event, Empowering Center staff had gone to San Antonio Bar and Grill to celebrate the end of our event. I had to leave early from sweating like a dog and still needing to do laundry and pack for a day trip to New York. Our plan for New York was one out of this world. My friend Matt and I took a bus called Megabus that leaves at 11:59 p.m. and arrives in New York at 4:40 a.m. Being college kids on a tight budget, we only had booked a hotel for Saturday night. The check-in time to our hotel was not until 3 p.m., so, we thought of our trip to New York as a random adventure. Once we get off the bus, our New York getaway began. We were so tired when we first arrived to New York, we ended up passing out in the middle of Times Square, and had woke up to a body builder with a "unique" lifestyle posing in front of the camera. Well, after going to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, Central Park, Fine and Shapiro's deli (thanks to Groupon), Guggenheim art museum, we finally could check into our hotel. Once we got into our room, our nap turned into an all night affair. We literally could not move from carrying our overnight bags with us all day.

So the next day, we started off on a good note. Once we had gotten ready and our stomachs were full of great food, off we went to go shopping. We had chosen to go to Fordham Avenue to shop until we dropped. Let me add, it was hotter in the subway station than outside. The highlight of my trip was Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Picasso is my all-time favorite artist and to see practically a whole room dedicated to his works was beyond amazing. This museum created a world that was on a whole other level and had so many works of art that had captured your attention so forcefully that you catch yourself gravitating towards it in awe. This museum had numerous works of Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, among others. But this experience at MoMA was out of control when people waited in line for two hours to see the work of British fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. McQueen was on the top of the world in the fashion industry, yet he shocked the world when he hanged himself in his wardrobe. McQueen had died just days before London Fashion Week, though he was not scheduled for the show, and nine days after the death of his mother, Joyce, 75, from cancer. A close friend to McQueen had stated McQueen, "was doing a lot of drugs and was unhappy" at the time of his death. To be able to see a shrine of one of the top fashion designers in the world was a once in a lifetime experience. McQueen definitely "showed" his heart on his sleeve.

Arriving back from New York, I have been hanging in the gym. I've had too much hot dogs and bready foods. I am now up running 2-plus miles on the treadmill. This is a grand accomplishment for me, so I am sharing the love. I feel like I can now play soccer at the World Cup stage, and hang with the best - Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, and company. This week has been full of excitement, but I can now finally relax.

Wreck `em Tech and God Bless!




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