Student Spotlight: Sarah Rosenberg
OHS junior’s experience on the Senate floor – Part 3
By Shailey Klein
Daily life working in the Capitol is drastically different than Oak Hall on a day-to-day basis. Rosenberg knew returning back to eight hour school days with seven classes per day, followed by a two hour track practice would not be easy, but the struggle was even more difficult than she anticipated. “The people at the page program, like the teachers and the senators, told us that we would hate [the adjustment] and it would be terrible,” Rosenberg stated. Rosenberg initially took all this with a grain of salt, and ultimately didn’t believe everything she heard.
After coming back to Oak Hall three weeks into the second semester, it all started to make sense. “Now, I get where they’re coming from; life was so fast-paced and what we did everyday mattered,” Rosenberg said. Even when not in the Senate, D.C. has so many valuable experiences to offer which Rosenberg was able to take advantage of. “Saturdays we could be touring the White House with President Trump and now Saturdays here, I’m not doing anything,” she said. “It’s just interesting; but, it’s harder than I thought it was going to be,” she added.
Even something as simple as having a phone has been an adjustment for Rosenberg. For the entire semester in D.C., Rosenberg was not allowed to have cellular access because of the classified information she was in contact with on a daily basis. The only way for Rosenberg to communicate with family back home was through her email on the Senate computers.
Compared to most students who have been involved in the Senate page program, Rosenberg got an incomparable experience of being able to witness everything which revolved around the impeachment of President Trump. “Impeachment was definitely the most exciting thing that happened and we waited for that the entire time,” Rosenberg said. The Democratic senators who are currently campaigning for the Democratic nomination were rarely in the Senate, so the only time all 100 Senators were present was during impeachment. “Working for all of the Republican senators was a bigger deal during impeachment because all 100 Senators were on the floor,” Rosenberg stated. She had to ensure that she tended to all of their needs amidst the chaos of having everyone present.
On the first day of impeachment, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walked the articles of impeachment from the House side to the Senate side. “The whole point is you can see from the presiding officer’s seat in the Senate to the presiding officer’s seat in the House, if no one’s in the halls,” Rosenberg stated. “I was on the doors that they walked into and no one was there because they shut down the entire Capitol building,” Rosenberg added. “It was insane—the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” she exclaimed.
Going into the experience of serving as a Senate page, Rosenberg expected to learn a lot about the United States government itself and the happenings in the Senate. Although this was the case, she was struck by the valuable life lessons she learned while living in D.C., outweighing her acquired knowledge about the Senate. For example, the dorm situation was all about learning to live with other people. “I had five roommates and that was not easy all the time,” Rosenberg recalls. Working in the Senate was also Rosenberg’s first real job. “We got paid every two weeks and learned about paying taxes,” she noted.
Specifically in the Senate, what surprised Rosenberg the most was the fact that all 100 senators were not on the Senate floor all at once all the time. She expected senators to be constantly debating and sitting on the floor, listening to each other give speeches, which was not the case. “One senator walks in, gives a speech, and no one’s in the chamber besides the pages and whoever’s presiding and then they leave and another Senator comes in, gives a speech and then they leave,” Rosenberg explained.
Another major aspect of politics which Rosenberg learned was how different political views are throughout the country, by region. “It’s something I hadn’t understood because Florida is all I’ve ever known,” Rosenberg noted. “The people I met had such different ideas just because of where they live, which is something I hadn’t thought about,” she continued. The senators gave speeches about things that are important to their constituents, like the agriculture in their state, which can be their entire state’s economy.
Working in the Senate gave Rosenberg an unparalleled hands-on perspective to politics. “When nothing’s happening we just hung out with the senators and they want to talk to you about your life and you can ask them about their political views,” Rosenberg said. “It’s such a different insight to politics than anyone else in the world gets,” she continued.
While entertaining the idea of being involved in politics after college, the option of having a political career is now very much out of the question for Rosenberg. “After working in the Senate, I do not want to go into politics. I think it’s a very inefficient process and it’s interesting to watch the things that they don’t get done, but could get done because of politics and hating each other. I definitely don’t want to be a politician,” she concluded.