Hillsdale's High School Study Program in Washington, D.C.

More than History: A Student’s Experience of “The Roots and History of American Liberty” High-School Study Trip

Written by Emma McCormick

Hearing sophomore Chloe Kookogey talk about her experience on The Roots and History of American Liberty high-school study trip made me wish I would have gone on one of the trips myself. Even if she hadn’t begun the trip with a love of history and an interest in Hillsdale College, the friends she made during the trip’s twelve short days would have made it worth it.

The trip brings together students within a few years of one another who may or may not be interested in Hillsdale College, but who are interested in American history, and offers them a tour of destinations such as Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and Mount Vernon.

“It was really fun,” Chloe said. “It was essentially a traveling seminar, and there’s not a whole lot of work in it; although there were a lot of lectures the first few days.”

In Chloe’s case, the trip helped solidify her eventual decision to come to Hillsdale College. “It kind of just sealed the deal for me,” she said. “A lot of people went on the trip spurred by an interest in the College or just the draw of the subject matter. That was the time I was really considering Hillsdale strongly, and I had visited campus once. I wanted to see what it was like to study with the faculty and see the caliber of the incoming students.”

Chloe still stays in touch with some of the friends she made on the trip, which was made easier when they, too, ended up at Hillsdale. “I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know them, because we’re different years, but we maintained our friendship. It helped to get the ball rolling when I came to campus. Besides the people I was tight with already, like my roommate and the girls on my hall, I had additional familiar faces on campus, and we had an instant common connection.”

When I asked what one of her favorite memories from the trip was, she told me, “We played the card game Mao on the roof of the hotel in D.C. at 10:30 one night. As we were playing it, someone said, ‘Pass to the right,’ which is the line in a song from this obscure musical called 1776. Someone started humming it, and we randomly started singing the songs. It was such a Hillsdale thing.” It’s the little connections like these that helped make the American Liberty Program more than just a trip.

“Even the first few days on campus were really fun,” she said. They were filled with explorations of campus and hanging out in the dorms with the other students, in addition to lectures.

“While [the trip] confirmed everything I’d hoped to find in the lectures, in the professors, in the content of the material…what went above and beyond my expectations was the community I found and the friendships of the different people on the trip,” Chloe said. “Getting to experience this adventure while traveling together would’ve made it fun with anyone, but especially with that group of people it was great, because these are the intelligent and creative and wise and funny people that I want to spend the next four years of my life studying and growing with. And getting to have just a little taste of what that could be like in twelve days made it oddly hard to leave at the end of the trip.”

For Chloe, The Roots and History of American Liberty summer high-school study trip was much more than a way to earn three college credits. It was an opportunity to learn American history, explore Washington, D.C., create memories, and develop friendships that last to this day.

Emma McCormickEmma McCormick, ’19, is an economics major from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she loves to get outside to hike, camp, and ski. She started the Outdoor Adventures Club to try to keep that up in Hillsdale. She is the Public Relations officer of Praxis, and an RA in Olds Dorm. When she isn’t studying, or working at AJ’s, you might find her outside running.