Federal Seminar, Washington, DC and CPAC Trip Journals

By Kate Westrick Political Communication Major


Today was the first day of our Bryan College class Federal Seminar DC and Conservative Action Political Committee (CPAC) field trip. We spent the majority of this day driving from Dayton, TN to Washington, DC. The drive was roughly nine hours long; however, time passed quickly due to sleep and many quality conversations. The quick lunch stop at Waffle House was also a nice break from driving.

When we finally arrived, we checked into our hotel. We are staying at a Days Inn in Alexandria, Virginia. After settling in a little bit, we picked up Dr. Ecarma’s daughter, Jordan Ecarma, a PR social media specialist, and headed to dinner. We found this little hole-in-the-wall Asian bistro, and ate some delicious food.

After we finished up, we walked around downtown Alexandria for a while. We stopped at the dock and a local ice cream shop. Both proved to be good decisions. However, the DC wind quickly got to us, so we decided to head back to our hotel to get some sleep.



We started our second day fairly early. We ate a quick breakfast and headed into to DC. After desperately searching for a parking spot, Dr. Ecarma dropped Grace, Gage and I off on the side of the road. We made our way to the Washington Monument while Dr. E navigated the parking garage. After an hour of so of waiting in the gift shop (reading every book available), we reunited with the rest of our group and walked around the White House and looked at the various war memorials. After that, we toured the Washington Monument.

We then made our way to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. There we grabbed lunch in the cafeteria and walked around for a while. Then we booked it to the National Archives. There we got to take a look at the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences of the day. After that, we began to get pretty hungry so we started to head towards our car. However, ten blocks later we realized we were going in the entirely wrong direction. After we realized our mistake, we booked it back to our car as fast as we possibly could.

We finally found our car and made it to dinner at a local Mediterranean Grill. To get our chocolate fix, we stopped by Wholefoods, which was assuredly a good choice. Then we finally made our way back to our hotel. We then settled down early and got a good night sleep for day three.



            We began this chilly Thursday morning walking around DC. We were able to tour the United States Capital Building, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. In fact, we actually got our very own Library of Congress library cards. After spending some time exploring the library, we headed to the National Aerospace Smithsonian Museum. However, at this point, Grace and I were very tired so we spent most of our time sitting on a bench in the middle of an obscure exhibit.

Thankfully, after this, we walked 14 blocks back to our car and headed to Chipotle for dinner. After satisfying our Mexican food craving, we made our way to the CPAC debate party.

This was definitely the highlight of my night. There were thousands of people gathered in the Gaylord Convention Center at National Harbor (Md.) ballroom to witness history being made. There was some serious hype in that room! This was a good introduction to CPAC.

The debate party didn’t end until 11 or so; needless to say, we booked it out of there and back to our hotel to get at least a little bit of sleep.



We woke up early this morning and made our way to the Gaylord Convention Center. This was our first full day of CPAC. We definitely underestimated the amount of time we were going to spend standing in line to get in. We waited to get past security for about an hour and a half. However, this provided us with some quality bonding time as a group.

Once we made it past security, we headed to the ballroom where a Tea Party representative was speaking. She did a fantastic job presenting what the Tea Party was all about. Throughout the day, we heard various speakers and panels. After lunch, we were able to hear Kasich, Cruz and Carson all speak. This was a great and very unique opportunity. It is crazy to think that we possibly listened to the future president of the United States…

After all of this, we were mentally exhausted and headed to another Mexican restaurant for dinner. To top it all off, we headed to Ben and Jerry’s for some great (and slightly liberal) ice cream.



Sadly, today was our last day at CPAC. We were able to sleep in a little bit this morning, which was refreshing after a week full of late nights and early mornings. We made it to CPAC around 10:30. Thankfully, the lines were much shorter than yesterday, and we were able to get seats to hear Marco Rubio speak.

Rubio’s speech was by far my favorite part of the day. Although he had the flu, he was still able to get up there and deliver an inspiring and motivating speech encouraging republicans to reclaim and reshape what conservatism means throughout the country and the world. Although I don’t think he’ll get the nomination for this presidential election, I really believe that one day he will be our president!

After he finished, Grace and I headed to Chipotle to grab a quick lunch. After that, we headed to the exhibition hall where all the vendors and booths were set up. Although many of them were closing up by the time we got there, it was cool to walk around see all the organizations represented there. Grace and I also got some really cute republican elephant stickers, so that was a plus!

Finally, we made our way back to the ballroom to hear Glenn Beck close out CPAC. He did a fantastic job speaking. He was, in my opinion, the strongest orator we heard all week. He did a great job keeping the audience interested and engaged throughout the entire hour he spoke. Overall, it was a great conclusion to a great week!

We then went to dinner at a local Thai place. It was great, but, at this point, we were so tired all we wanted to do was go back to the hotel and sleep. So that is exactly what we did.



We left fairly early this morning in order to get back to Bryan College by dinnertime. Although it wasn’t easy getting up at 5:30 in the morning, it was nice to be on the road early. Most of us slept for the first part of the journey. Eventually, we stopped for lunch at Subway. In all reality, we were pretty quiet for the rest of the ride; most of us were very tired. However, at the very end, we all went around and said our favorite part about the trip and sang a hymn together. This was a wonderful way to end a wonderful trip.