Another exciting TFAS summer came to a close on Friday, August 2 as the U.S. Summer Programs Class of 2013 celebrated commencement exercises at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The graduation ceremony was filled with remarks from program staff and executives, student speakers from each of the five summer institutes, and Kelly Williams Brown (IPJ 05), a critically-acclaimed author and 2005 IPJ alumna, as the keynote speaker.
The commencement began with speeches and introductions from Shane Mazzella, vice president of U.S. Programs, Joe Starrs, director of U.S. Summer Programs, economics professor Donald Boudreaux and several students.
Before the selected representatives from each program took the stage, Alexander Brown (ICPES 13) recited the Pledge of Allegiance and Michael LaCroix (ICPES 13) offered an invocation. Next, students representing each of the five summer institutes stepped up to share what the TFAS experience has meant to each of them. This year’s student speakers were Pasquale “Pat” DiFrancesco (ICPES), Ariel Braunstein (IEIA), Tianna Manóñ (IPJ), Kate Virden (IBGA) and Allan Rogers (IPVS).
TFAS President Roger Ream then took a moment to greet and welcome the 281 graduating students into the TFAS alumni network. “We call this a commencement,” said Ream, “but you’re really only halfway through the TFAS experience.” He encouraged the new graduates to stay connected as alumni and to consider themselves a part of the TFAS family.
Ream then went on to introduce Kelly Williams Brown, the ceremony’s keynote speaker and a TFAS alumna herself. As the author of “How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps,” Brown gave plenty of valuable and practical advice from the perspective of someone who was in the same position as the graduating students less than a decade ago.
“Congratulations to the people you are going to be,” Brown said. She went on to explain that while the students kept themselves busy with internships, classes and briefings that filled nearly every minute of their summer, this has been merely the start of a lifetime of success and adventure for each individual seated in the auditorium.
The morning’s events concluded with a few words from TFAS Chairman Randal C. Teague. He encouraged the audience to take these lessons with them as they move forward, and to make the most of all chapters in their lives.
IPVS student speaker Allan Rogers best captured the feelings many were experiencing as the summer drew to an official close, and ended with a call for action among his fellow graduates: “To my TFAS brothers and sisters, we have work to do. Not only for ourselves and our families, but on behalf of all the people of our communities … I look forward to seeing your names in the newspapers for the work you have done – sooner, rather than later.”