Scholarship recipient honoured to represent Australia at Washington’s Capitol Hill

Posted: Thu, 29th June 2017 | Written by: The Team at Western Chances

Growing up in Sunshine West, James Holland feels lucky to have achieved his high school dream of working as an intern at Washington’s Capitol Hill.

Scholarship recipient honoured to represent Australia at Washington’s Capitol Hill

James received his first Western Chances Scholarship when he was in second year at Monash University studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts.

“Between daily travel, work and study, I struggled to afford textbooks and transport costs. Western Chances helped me get those costs off my back.”

While James says that he feels “lucky” we also know that he worked extremely hard to get where he is. His hard work paid off in spades recently when he scored the dream placement in the Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Program.

The Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Program (UCWIP) gives Australian students the opportunity to intern with offices of the United States Congress in Washington DC. The internship is eight to nine weeks long and runs from early-January to early-March.

“When I was at high school, I wanted to participate in the program but I never seriously thought I would get the opportunity.”

To win a place in the program, James submitted a 5,000-word essay that reflected on his volunteer experience, displayed his enthusiasm and eventually earned James a place in the highly sought-after program.

Not only did James go on to complete the valuable internship experience, he finished the program as UCWIP valedictorian of the Australian group. As a valedictorian, James was asked to make a speech which you can view below.

“The experience was incredible because there have been select few Australians who have had the opportunity to make a speech in one of the Capitol buildings. …The opportunity to speak in front of several Congressmen and Congresswomen was particularly special."

You can view a video of James' speech here.

Whilst on placement, James took the opportunity to approach his long-time role model John Berry, former US Ambassador to Australia, for career advice. James says John Berry was open to talking to him and has this advice for others who might be thinking of approaching their idol:

“Never assume that people aren't interested in speaking to you just because you are young. The worst thing that can ever happen after asking for a meeting is s a simple ‘no’. If you want something, asking rarely hurts.” 

Coming away from his Washington experience with a new understanding of the world of politics, James is keen to support the inner workings of policy decisions, rather than be a politician who represents “just the surface of a massive operation”.

“I would love to work in the public service. My dream job would be in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet because the job would expose me to an incredible variety of challenges and equip me to tackle even the most complex problems.”

Now with a strong sense of purpose, James has big dreams for his future.

“I have two big passions in life: managing motivated people and changing the status quo for the better. If I am able to do a job that satisfies those two passions, I will be happy.”

If you would like to support young people like James to achieve their dreams, consider becoming a Big Dreams monthly donor today. A donation from as little as $10 a month can make a big difference.

Image by ThompsonCookCreative

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