Meghan Brandabur ’18, ’19, ’19, International Affairs and Summer Law Fellowship Program Coordinator
TFAS students know firsthand the transformational benefits of our programs. Some alumni participate in multiple programs to see more of what TFAS has to offer, and some alumni are so captivated by TFAS’s impact they return as staff members. This affords them the opportunity to pass along their enthusiasm for liberty and leadership to the next generation of TFAS students. In our interview series with these individuals, we’re introducing the alumni staff members to showcase the people behind our programs. You can find the other featured interviews linked at the bottom of this page.
In this feature, we’ll hear from Meghan Brandabur, a three-time alumna of TFAS programs. Her first encounter with TFAS was in the D.C. Academic Internship Programs International Affairs track in 2018. In January 2019 she traveled to Chile for TFAS Santiago and later that year participated in another D.C. Summer Program, this time in the Public Policy + Economics track. She began working at TFAS in March 2020 as the International Affairs and Summer Law Fellowship Program Coordinator.
TFAS: How did you first hear about The Fund for American Studies?
Meghan Brandabur: I first heard about TFAS from one of my college advisors who knew I was interested in learning more about international affairs, politics and policy. My advisor had heard of TFAS and believed I was a strong candidate for the D.C. Summer Programs. I decided to apply, and the rest is history!
TFAS: Which memories stand out to you as key aspects of your TFAS experience?
MB: It is so hard to pick because I have so many! One of my favorites is Embassy Day. Each summer, TFAS takes the D.C. Summer Programs students to various embassies around Washington. Participants even get to choose which embassy they want to visit. During my first TFAS program in 2018, I attended the Embassy of Estonia. This was a very cool experience for me because I studied abroad in Estonia. After studying there and learning about Estonia’s relations with the U.S., being at the embassy in D.C. was very enlightening and felt like a nice completion to my study abroad experience.
Another favorite memory is arriving to George Washington University’s campus the summer of 2019 to attend my third TFAS program, which was also my second TFAS program in D.C. I remember feeling like I was home. I recalled how great my previous summer with TFAS had been and how excited I was to participate in yet another TFAS program. In that third program, I was even participating alongside good friends I had met at TFAS Santiago!
Without my experiences with TFAS programs and mentorship through TFAS alumni, I would never have understood how many different directions a career in international affairs could take or which direction is best for me. I am forever grateful to TFAS for helping me learn this important lesson!” – Meghan Brandabur ’18, ’19, ’19
TFAS: What is it like being an alumna of not one, not two, but three programs now working for TFAS? What have you learned from such extensive involvement?
MB: Honestly, I’m just grateful. Having had the opportunity to participate in three TFAS programs made me realize how unique TFAS programming is since we strive to introduce college students to their desired career field. Without my experiences with TFAS programs and mentorship through TFAS alumni, I would never have understood how many different directions a career in international affairs could take or which direction is best for me. I am forever grateful to TFAS for helping me learn this important lesson!
TFAS: Did you see yourself then where you are now?
MB: I always hoped to work in D.C., but I never imagined I would be at TFAS. My internships as a research assistant at the National Defense University’s College of Information and Cyberspace and the Institute for Free Speech were eye-opening and taught me so much. But after participating in three TFAS programs it seemed like fate that I would join the TFAS team!
TFAS: What is the most rewarding part of working for TFAS?
MB: The most rewarding part of working for TFAS is getting to help provide the life-changing experiences that TFAS gave me to other college students!
The double impact of those programs bonded us in a super unique way, so we are still great friends and are regularly in touch with each other.” – Meghan Brandabur ’18, ’19, ’19
TFAS: What would you like to say to TFAS alumni, current and future students?
MB: To TFAS alumni and current students, keep in touch with each other! I know it sounds cliché, but I have made so many lifelong friends through TFAS. Some of my closest friends are Danyale Kellogg ’18, ’19, Will Mendonsa ’19, ’19, and Bryce Leech ’19, ’19 since I did two programs with each of them. The double impact of those programs bonded us in a super unique way, so we are still great friends and are regularly in touch with each other. Maddie LoScalzo ’19, my roommate during the summer 2019 program, and I also formed a close friendship and were the best of friends that summer.
To future students, if you are considering participating in a TFAS program, whether it be a D.C. program or an international one, definitely do it! I learned so much through the opportunities and experiences TFAS provided me that I never would have learned in a typical college classroom.