Cally Ahlin was one of the estimated 500,000 people who turned out for the Women's March Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C.

The 20-year-old Hudson High School graduate made the journey on her own, but found friends all along the 22-hour journey and even more at the event.

She boarded a bus in Madison, and at every rest stop there were more buses headed for the same destination.

"By the first stop, there were four buses, by the second, 10, and as we moved east, the lots were full of buses. By the time we arrived in D.C., they were everywhere, as far as you could see. It was amazing and inspiring."

Ahlin, who is studying filmmaking and video production, said she heard a lot of negative rhetoric going around prior to the march, but that wasn't what she felt.

"It was a very positive experience. People were excited to be there and positive about making change. It wasn't just anti-Trump but more about building people up."

The women she met were from all over the country. She moved from group to group, meeting women much older, her own age and much younger. A group of them in their 60s from California told her they had been protesting all their lives. Another young woman was leading a chant and her voice was almost gone, "All of the sudden you heard a man yell 'that's my daughter and I am so proud of her.'"

As she was preparing to leave the mall, she saw a 5-year-old girl holding a sign she had made, who was chanting "show me what democracy looks like," getting an enthusiastic response from everyone around her.

Based on her conversations with others, their concerns ranged from the environment, reproductive rights, education, immigration, health care and income disparity.

Ahlin said she was "incredibly upset" by the recent election results and finds President Donald Trump's history "concerning," but said she has been political and concerned since grade school, particularly about the environment.

"I've been making political signs since elementary school. My friend and I started an environment magazine when we were 10. Being part of the march just seemed like something I had to do."

Ahlin describes herself as an "intersectional feminist," a form of feminism that includes all women while recognizing that not all women face the same challenges and oppression; that race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability and socio-economic class impact what women experience.

Ahlin said she saw women from all these groups at the march and more. And what's more, she talked with them about their experience and why they were there. "I think that is the really important thing about the march. The way I see it, I think this will inspire all of us to be better humans, better citizens, just be better people."

Ahlin said she didn't want the experience to end. As things wound down, she sat with the Lincoln Memorial behind her and reflected on what she had just been a part of. She recalled something her AP History class teacher John Amann said: "He always wanted us to remember that we are part of history."

Her plan is to keep speaking her mind and take action where she can. She hopes the same will be true for the hundreds of thousands of women she made history with last month.