Kyle’s summer travels: San Francisco to DC to Chapel Hill

By: Kyle Villemain

As the summer has gotten underway, so have my summer plans. Earlier this month I went on the first big trip of the summer: RDU to San Francisco, San Francisco to DC and then a drive back down to Chapel Hill. It was a whirlwind of a trip, just five days in all, but it was action packed.

The trip out to San Francisco was based around an alumni event sponsored by the Campus Y, the Business School and the School of Public Health. It also pulled together a number of current UNC students who were out in the Bay area for the summer. Flying halfway across the country and seeing a collection of UNC students was a little odd but very cool.

San Francisco wasn’t just for this event however. Flying out with Andrew Powell, our SBP for the year meant the trip was going to be about one of our key goals in student government for this year- envisioning the classroom experience. We made stops at Coursera, an edtech venture that hosts and facilitates a wide range of online courses called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). We stopped at Quizlet- where I got a super comfy free tshirt. We had breakfast with Rocketship, which applies active learning, intensely individualized K-3 education using online content and teacher instruction in classroom contexts.

It was a short 36 hours (flew in at 10am, flew out at midnight the next day) but I learned a lot I hope to bring back to UNC.

After San Francisco, Andrew and I flew to DC, still wearing our student government hat. Somehow the window seat where I sat on the red eye was just far enough away from the side of the plane that if I tried to lean over and rest my head, my head actually slipped down and got stuck between the seat and the plane. I might have been sleepless and delirious but it seemed to me that the plane was actively sabotaging my sleep attempts. Needless to say I was a bit tired landing in DC.

We were in DC for three days for a National Campus Leadership Summit. We were definitely a little skeptical, as our respective experience with “youth” leadership gatherings was subpar at best. However, the invite came on White House stationary and I’ve watched enough West Wing to know that you come to things when the White House invites you.

Over the course of three days, I learned that college tuition is going up and budgetary appropriations are going down. Which is good because, you know, it’s hard to tell that from reading the news these days. But I did get to meet with and “network” with a number of other student government leaders, some of whom we are still in contact with and have plans to collaborate with on various initiatives over the course of the year. And, on the last morning, we got a briefing from top policy officials at the Executive Office Building, which was fairly sweet.

Now it’s back to the grind. A new post coming post-legislative session to reflect on everything I’ve gotten to do in Raleigh this year.