Discovery D.C. Summer Program Helps 2L Find Passion for Telecommunications Law
From the time he was in elementary school, Matt Diaz 2L knew one day he wanted to work in Washington, D.C.
“When I was in the second grade I had an obsession with the U.S. presidency. Since then I’ve always said I wanted to one day be president of the United States. I saw that a majority of presidents were lawyers and I figured that there was something admirable, or noble, about the legal profession that developed you as a leader and that was what drove me to go to law school and to want to become a lawyer,” he said.
Diaz graduated from the University of South Florida with Bachelor of Arts degrees in philosophy and political science in 2013. During his time there he served as student body president, a U.S. congressional intern, and participated in a community service trip to Washington, D.C., which gave him his first taste of working in one of the nation’s most important cities.
He decided to pursue his law degree at The Ohio State University, he says, because of its respectable reputation across the nation.
“This is Ohio State. Buckeye Nation is enormous, and it’s real. We have the best alumni base in the country and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said.
This past summer, Diaz was able to return to our nation’s capital for an externship at the Federal Communications Commission in the Office of Chairman Tom Wheeler, as part of the Moritz College of Law’s Washington, D.C., Summer Program.
“I had an exceptional opportunity to work for the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, who himself is an Ohio State alumnus, and it was incredible. I found a new passion for telecommunications law and public service. I really enjoyed the work and the challenging projects I was assigned,” he explained.
During the course of his externship Diaz worked on a mixture of public and confidential projects, conducting research, writing memos, and even writing speeches for some of the more important members of the office.
“One of the issues I worked on was municipal broadband deployment, which provides small communities and cities the power to take their broadband futures into their own hands, in the sense of creating their own broadband infrastructure to provide high speed internet services to areas when major internet service providers won’t. I had the opportunity to do a great deal of research and writing on this issue,” he said. “It was a fascinating experience.”
One of the most memorable parts of the summer, however, came when Diaz was offered a tour of the famous West Wing at the White House.
“I made a connection at the FCC in my office that was able to get myself and my roommate a tour of the West Wing. So we got to see the door leading to the situation room, we got to see the cabinet conference room, we got to peak our heads into the oval office and see the rose garden, and we got to go into the press room, where the president does his press conferences,” he said. “It was absolutely incredible realizing the halls I was walking through were the halls that the president and all of the major players in American politics walk through every day.”
One of the biggest benefits of the Washington, D.C., Summer Program, Diaz said, is not just the real-world experience students gain working in our nation’s capital, but the friendships and professional relationships they build over the course of the summer.
“Network, network, network. I think that is the most valuable thing you get out of the D.C. program, the opportunity to network with incredible people, incredible students, and incredible attorneys – you don’t get opportunities like that in any other program,” he says.