Courtesy of Reyna Harvey
Courtesy of Reyna Harvey

My name is Reyna Harvey. Last month, I completed a fall 2015 internship at the White House. Working in the White House was an incredible experience and a dream come true. My time spent working in the White House has been one of the greatest moments in my professional career and my experience in Washington, D.C., was filled with milestones and memories.

The White House internship is a highly competitive program that brings together young leaders from across the nation and gives them the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain exposure to the public service sector. I was selected to work as an intern in the Communications Department, which is responsible for shaping the public image of the president. This dedicated team works with several other departments and is in charge of creating a thoughtful message while keeping the country informed through speeches, broadcast interviews and non-conventional avenues.

My experience at UCR prepared me to work with people from different walks of life. I was able to connect with several people while at the White House because I was accustomed to the diversity at UCR. UCR has done an incredible job of including everyone and making sure the campus is reflective of a diverse experience. The diversity is prevalent with students, faculty and courses offered. In relation, the White House is also a very diverse space that places professionals with backgrounds from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to economists in the same workspace.

My journey to the White House was just as incredible as my time spent working there. Before my internship, I was working for the Oprah Winfrey Network and for KABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News. I was a news assistant at KABC, working toward my dream of becoming a television journalist. I started my application for the White House internship the summer of my sophomore year in college, but I never submitted the application — I thought my chances of being selected to work in the White House were slim.

Instead, I continued working toward my television journalist career by interning at places like the Mayor of Riverside’s office, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Arsenio Hall Show and KTLA Channel 5 News. After these experiences, I finally had the courage to submit my application knowing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a chance. After receiving my acceptance letter, I realized that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance. I was incredibly excited and called everyone close to me to share the wonderful news. I want young people around the nation to know you can make your dreams a reality. It all starts with believing in yourself and giving yourself a chance.

One of my greatest experiences working at the White House was meeting President Barack Obama. I will always remember the life and career advice he gave me. Throughout the entire experience I learned how to be a better public servant. The internship taught me the importance of public service with volunteer opportunities feeding the community at soup pantries and cleaning local parks. Through these advances, I have achieved the next step in my professional career, where I will be the morning reporter for a local news station in Quincy, Ill.

My advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in broadcast journalism is to start interning now and build off every experience. Interning will allow you to figure out what you like and dislike. It is important to get as much experience under your belt because it helps you decide what you want to do in the long run. And if you would like to pursue the same internship, you should definitely start applying soon! It’s the last year to become an intern for President Obama, so it doesn’t hurt to take the chance and apply.

Just remember: You have the ability to manifest your own destiny, just believe in yourself and continue working on your goal.