The Center for Change

harjitblogpicBlogged by Harjit Singh

Many people who know me wonder why as an astrophysics and geophysics major I interned in the office of Congresswoman Judy Chu. In her office I have was not only able to explore my interests, but I also served my Sikh community and built a network of friends and mentors who will likely be there for me as I ready to launch in the world- post- undergrad.

As an astrophysicist, I was assigned to conduct research on NASA’s priorities and goals. I read the Congressional Research Survey Reports about NASA, attended hearings on the topic of NASA reauthorization, and wrote memos summarizing those hearings. The internship helped me to understand the future of space exploration and become somewhat of an expert in the policy aspect of this field.

One of the highlights was meeting Bill Nye at a NASA event I attended through my internship. This man helped many kids fall in love with science so meeting him was inspirational.
In terms of advancement of Sikhs, I believe I contributed to the cause during my time in D.C. First, it was a positive step adding to the diversity but specifically increasing the Sikh presence and visibility in the city, especially on Capitol Hill. Even in a city filled with graduate and professional degrees, there remains much ethnic and religious ignorance. Luckily, I had the opportunity to dispel some of that ignorance through my daily interactions with people. Also, with Judy Chu being a co-chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, I worked on a few cool things for the caucus. My most important contribution would have to be writing the first draft to a resolution (H.Res. 334) that was introduced in Congress to commemorate the anniversary of the shootings at the Oak Creek Gurdwara.

Although I believe I had a very meaningful internship, most of my memories from last summer were made outside the 9am – 6pm weekday hours. Spending time with my fellow SikhLEAD interns was nothing short of spectacular. Whether we were getting slurpees at 7-11 or having a potluck because we’re poor college kids, we made it a point to see one another essentially every day. We were able to build strong bonds with one another, personally and professionally. It brings me great joy to see members of my SikhLEAD family having successful internships and contributing to Sikh awareness.

Looking back, I’ve begun to realize how significant Washington D.C. truly is. If one wishes to invoke change in our nation, it starts in the capital. This can be policy change or ideological change. My fellow interns and I have started to do just that by increasing the visibility of Sikhs and working to introduce resolutions and press statements that directly involve Sikhs. I would not have traded the summer in D.C. for any other experience. But then again, being here was in Guru’s hukum so I didn’t really have a choice.

SALDEF’s SikhLEAD is paving the path for young Sikh Americans to make their way in to the powerful institutions in DC. Law students, recent grads, graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to apply. Applications are due in just two weeks—February 14th, 2014. Brush up your resume and submit a well thought out application for a chance to spend the summer with high achievers like yourself. For more information about the application and list of host agencies visit

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5 Responses to “The Center for Change”

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  5. tammi1122 says:

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