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A Journey of Leadership: 300 Students Experience Transformative Summer at TFAS

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This summer, the nation’s capital surged with excitement as nearly 300 students embarked on an extraordinary adventure through the TFAS Academic Internship Program. Thanks to countless supporters, alumni and volunteers, TFAS students experienced a transformative eight-week journey, emerging as bold and courageous leaders in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Students explore the heart of Washington, D.C., during the monuments tour.

The Power of Internships

Students spent the summer gaining real-world experience through internships at the nation’s leading nonprofits, think tanks, law firms, congressional and other government offices in the D.C. area.

Southern Methodist University student Tulsi Lohani ’23, shared how internships can significantly improve one’s outlook on life, especially after his positive internship experience at FedNet this past summer.

“The one thing I could answer for sure was, ‘I learned something new today,’” said Lohani. “One thing that I think we’ve all learned from our internships is the power of learning and enhancing our perspective on life around us.”

Immersed in Free-Market Economics

A student speaks with TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley following her economics lecture.

Additionally, students examined free-market economics by taking courses for academic credit at George Mason University. Through TFAS courses, students gained a fresh perspective on economics which they will take back to their home universities. Renowned TFAS faculty members include Dr. Anne Bradley, Dr. Donald Boudreaux, Dr. Milorad Lazic, Dr. Gabriel Scheinmann, Richard Benedetto, Glenn Nye, Dr. Christopher Coyne, Dr. Richard Boyd, Karen Czarnecki and Dr. Rosolino Candela.

Tanner Nau ’23, a student from Raleigh, North Carolina, thoroughly enjoyed his American political thought course with Dr. Richard Boyd.

“In my American Political Thought class, I’ve loved learning about the founding and the ideology behind it and the different founding fathers and the writings that they produced,” Nau said.

Learning from Courageous Leaders

Students eagerly speak with Tulsi Gabbard following her talk at a Capitol Hill Lecture.

Outside of the classroom, students enjoyed the annual Capitol Hill Lecture Series, held in partnership with the Office of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. This year’s topic was “Courageous Leaders: Challenging the Status Quo,” where interns in the D.C. area filled Senate Hearing Rooms to learn from courageous leaders who uncovered the truth behind complex issues. These speakers included Senator Rand Paul, Matt Taibbi, John Tamny, Tulsi Gabbard and Dr. Marty Makary.

Alumni and Supporter Engagement

Molly Nixon ’03 shares advice with TFAS students during the 2023 Alumni Roundtable.

Throughout the summer, students also had their TFAS Mentor by their side to provide them with guidance both professionally and personally. Through this annual program, TFAS alumni and volunteers in the Washington, D.C., area are matched with students based on several common factors including professional field, hometown, alma mater and political ideology. These volunteers serve as mentors who offer advice as students navigate Washington.

More than 100 alumni and supporters also volunteered their time at the annual TFAS Alumni Roundtable Networking Dinner, where they shared how TFAS impacted their career trajectory. During the evening, each alumnus shared a piece of advice for how students could maximize their summer experience and provided valuable tips that they wished they had known earlier in their careers.

Balancing Education and Exploration

Emma Jaax ’23 leads a discussion at the Braver Angels Debate.

When students were not busy networking with leaders in D.C., they spent their free time discovering museums, strolling through the National Mall, catching a Washington Nationals baseball game, touring Mount Vernon, exploring historic Georgetown and watching the iconic fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The summer ended on a high note with the Closing Ceremony, where student representatives from the five summer program tracks shared how their TFAS experience will help them create a bigger and brighter future for themselves.

Abilene Christian University student Emma Jaax ’23, felt fortunate to be encompassed by her peers, individuals she firmly believes will shape the future and establish a more improved world.

Rianna Ramsey ’23 poses with her peers who received an Academic Excellence Award.

“I definitely know that in the room with me, when I have classes and lectures, there are future leaders, politicians and ambassadors,” said Jaax.

Rianna Ramsey ’23 of Arizona State University sincerely appreciated her TFAS supporter who made her life-changing TFAS journey possible this summer.

“I would thank my TFAS supporter very deeply and sincerely,” said Ramsey. “I mean it completely when I say that I would not be able to be here without that support. Everything that comes with the TFAS opportunity, it really is invaluable.”

TFAS extends its heartfelt gratitude to the generous supporters, dedicated alumni and cherished friends who help make our TFAS programs a reality. If you wish to contribute to a life-changing TFAS experience for future students, please visit TFAS.org/support.

Watch the video below to see highlights from the summer.

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