More than 60 TFAS alumni, supporters and friends gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Jan. 25 to hear about the transformational impact of TFAS programs firsthand from outstanding local alumni.
Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick ’78 and Grand Canyon University Graduate Assistant Emma Blair ’21 shared their TFAS testimonies, unique memories and important lessons from their student experiences. The pair discussed the impact of the program and said TFAS has set them on the path toward courageous leadership.
Having participated in TFAS only a few months ago in the summer of 2021, Emma Blair told guests about her favorite courses, memories with classmates and the special guest lectures and events led by TFAS.
Blair said TFAS gave her the tools and experience she needs to become a leader who will defend America’s founding principles long into her future. Noting TFAS’s slogan of “building courageous leaders,” she recalled an important conversation she had with TFAS Senior Scholar Donald Devine during his lecture last summer:
“I asked him, ‘What do you think leaders today are missing?’ and he said, ‘They need courage. We need courageous leaders,'” she recalled.
Blair told guests she believes part of why her generation lacks this courage is because they do not fully grasp the meaning behind foundational American principles.
“My generation truly lacks depth in our philosophical understanding of why we believe what we believe,” she explained. “Questions like, ‘Why do we believe in limited government?’ and ‘Why do we believe in a free-market system?’ are common, but TFAS really does provide a true knowledge, depth and background of understanding.”
Blair told guests that a vital way TFAS accomplishes this teaching is through open dialogue and thoughtful discussion on important historical and current events.
“We are idealistic and naive and we don’t know what the real world looks like yet, but I can tell you that we are excited that we get to become great, courageous leaders one day.” – Emma Blair ’21
“Ultimately, TFAS provides its students a space for discussion – discussion with scholars and discussion with each other,” she said. “We are idealistic and naive and we don’t know what the real world looks like yet, but I can tell you that we are excited that we get to become great, courageous leaders one day.”
Although their time in TFAS was more than 30 years apart, Clint Bolick recounted similar experiences as Blair. Bolick said his time in Washington solidified his interest and passion for constitutional law.
“Whenever TFAS asks me to talk about my experience, I am more than happy to do it because it was literally transformative,” he said. “I would not be in the position that I am today were it not for interning and participating in The Fund for American Studies program.”
Bolick recounted memories from the phenomenal guest lectures and first-hand experiences he had in Washington, and he commended TFAS for its immense growth and program expansion over the years.
“At the time that I attended, TFAS was just this one program for maybe about 140 students,” he explained. “Now it’s a worldwide program where they teach students in countries all over the world, including countries that were formerly behind the Iron Curtain. They have expanded to high schools, young journalists, law students and other fields, impacting thousands and thousands of students.”
Bolick explained that TFAS programs engage students in thoughtful lessons and powerful discussions, rather than just preaching to an ideological camp.
“We have never needed a program like TFAS more than we do today.” – Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick ’78
“It’s a soft sell, but it is a powerful sell,” he said. “We have never needed a program like TFAS more than we do today.”
The evening was graciously hosted by TFAS Trustee Colene Johnson and her husband Russell. The Johnsons are generous supporters of TFAS programs. They provide a special scholarship for students to attend TFAS Academic Internship Programs in Washington, D.C., each summer. In 2021, Blair had the honor of being the most recent recipient of the Johnsons’ generous scholarship support. During the event, Mr. Johnson told guests that Emma has been their “greatest return on investment” to TFAS.