'Looking back, it was everything I had hoped for and more...'
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Media and Communication
A strong interest in American culture encouraged Rachael to take part in a year-long trip to the US through UC’s exchange programme.
‘The prospect of travelling, where I could meet new people and experience new cultures excited me, and I knew the experience would supplement my studies which had focused a lot on American media and politics. Looking back, it was everything I had hoped for and more,’ she says.
Rachael was based at the University of California Berkeley, where she studied papers ranging from American Politics to Third World Modernization and Queer Study of Film.
‘My courses at UC Berkeley were mind-blowing!’ she says. ‘I feel so lucky to have studied these things from an American point of view.’
For her second semester, Rachael moved across country to Washington, D.C. During the day she interned in Congress for a Californian senator and during the evenings, she completed courses at the University of California’s satellite campus.
‘With the help of people I had met at UC Berkeley, I was selected to take part in a programme in D.C., which involved a full-time, political internship. I was accepted to work in the office of Senator Barbara Boxer and I wrote a legislative proposal that focused on increasing the number of women in federal government.
‘We lived three blocks from the White House and watched legislation progressing through the branches of government in real-time. One day I would be photocopying receipts, the next I was drafting a letter to the interim prime minister of Libya! I was constantly blessed with opportunities that, if it wasn’t for my exchange, I never would have been given.’
Rachael returned to UC to complete her studies and made the most of the opportunities Christchurch offered in a post-quake environment. Through the Law School, she volunteered on a major case against EQC brought by a local law firm and got involved in the UC Summer Startup programme launching a social enterprise with a fellow UC student. She also worked to implement UC’s first ever Diversity Week.
Upon graduating in December 2014, Rachael relocated back to Washington, D.C. where she now works in the communications team of a large, public policy think-tank.
‘Living in D.C. during the tumultuous 2016 campaign period, seeing the unexpected election result in November, and now witnessing the changes occurring under the Trump administration has meant watching up-close how a country’s political and policy fabric change can quite dramatically happen overnight.
‘The organization I work for believes that the best policy is crafted when both parties come to the table and negotiate their differences in the interest of American progress. I look forward to continuing to promote that process during what will undoubtedly be an unpredictable four years!’