Alumni Spotlights


Close Up alumni have gone on to become leaders in government, advocacy, business, education, media, and a number of other fields. Read some of their stories and memories below! 


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Elia Quintana | Student 1993

Alumni Spotlight | July 9, 2021

Growing up in California’s Central Valley as a first-generation migrant student, Elia Quintana never envisioned traveling far from home, let alone getting on a plane. But everything changed during her time at Arvin High School, when she was lucky enough to have two opportunities to attend Close Up programs in Washington, DC—once with her district’s […]

Patrick Sheehan | Student 1994

Alumni Spotlight | May 12, 2021

In preparation for his Close Up alumni interview, Patrick Sheehan dug through his memorabilia to find the Close Up Current Issues notebook he used during his January 1994 program. He was encouraged when noting that some metrics have improved since the 1990s (i.e. percentage of children in poverty, percentage of Americans holding a high school […]

Alton Nelson | Student 1981

Alumni Spotlight | February 10, 2021

Growing up in rural Georgia, Alton Nelson was thrilled when he was offered an opportunity to participate in Close Up’s Washington program as a student at Temple High School. At the time, eighth graders were part of the high school (endearingly called “sub-freshmen”), but this did not deter or preclude Nelson from attending with his […]

Carin Kale | Student 1978

Alumni Spotlight | July 27, 2020

From a very young age, Carin Kale wanted to give back to her community. As a child, her mother brought her to the voting booth, showing her how to express her opinion. Since civic engagement was a priority for her mom, Kale learned from an early age how important voting is, and she hasn’t missed […]

Lara Bergthold | Student, 1985

Alumni Spotlight | May 11, 2020

On Close Up, Lara Bergthold remembers being with students from other schools and learning about their backgrounds. She remembers visiting Washington, DC, being at the monuments, staying in a hotel, and hearing from speakers. But Bergthold was most excited to hear from women working in DC, and coming to understand all of the barriers they […]

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