"I love doing my part in saving the environment; it's something I've always been passionate about. And working in Washington, D.C., was amazing," says Leigh A. Zimmerman, a senior at California University of Pennsylvania and graduate of Charleroi High School.
Zimmerman is one of many students from across the country who spent her summer working as an intern in our nation's capitol. She worked on public relations and marketing for the United States Environmental Protection Agency and obtained the internship through The Washington Center, a non-profit organization that places students in various positions with the government and other agencies relating to their interests. For more information on this organization, visit www.twc.edu.
"I knew I wanted to do something in communications, and when the OAR (Office of Air and Radiation) offered me a position, I was ecstatic," said Zimmerman of her placement.
She worked in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality where she was in contact with a number of prestigious companies and improved the marketing of the program she is working with, Best Workplaces for Commuters. This program honors companies that offer their employees special transportation benefits such as car pools and free metro and bus passes. The intent is to eliminate some of the pollution in the air caused by all employees driving separately.
When she is not busy helping to save the environment, Zimmerman is engaged in many other activities.
"I took a class called ‘Interest Groups and Immigration Policy Post 9/11,'" she said. She took this course for credit, then transferred it to California University of Pennsylvania upon her return.
Zimmerman was also involved in activities set up by The Washington Center such as a presidential lecture series, congressional breakfasts and meetings with different ambassadors, just to name a few. Also in keeping up with her civic duty, Zimmerman volunteered her time working with children in different community events.
This fall, Zimmerman believes she will have a better understanding of what the future may hold for her.
"This is the greatest thing that could have happened for me. I've learned so much already and with moving to a big city and becoming more independent, I feel there's nothing I can't do," she said.
Zimmerman returned home in August to prepare for her final year at Cal U. She is looking forward to returning to Washington upon graduation, where she has expressed an interest in attending graduate school.