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TFAS Welcomes 13 New Capital Semester Alumni


On Dec. 6, 2018, 13 future leaders were welcomed into the TFAS Alumni Network at the Fall 2018 Capital Semester on Leadership and the American Presidency closing ceremony.

Capital Semester on Leadership and the American Presidency, a TFAS program held in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute (RRPFI), brings students to Washington, D.C., for one semester to study politics, economics and leadership from our group of distinguished faculty, while working at top-tier internships and networking with TFAS alumni and D.C. professionals.

Living, Learning & Interning with Capital Semester

Students in the Capital Semester program come away with course credit, work experience and career connections, all adding up to a once in a lifetime adventure in the nation’s capital.

Kendall Antle (LTAP-F 18) was selected to deliver testimonial remarks on behalf of his graduation class during the closing ceremony. Antle recently graduated from Grand View University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biology and spent his TFAS semester interning with the Embassy of Israel.

Antle said he was intrigued by the program’s combination of economic and civic education and emphasis on leadership.

“My journey with TFAS began back in January when I first looked into the program. I was immediately hooked – I sought out an opportunity to immerse myself in a program that would expand my servant, visionary leadership skills,” Antle said. “I knew that from the very beginning, the LTAP Capital Semester Program would allow my ambitions to come to fruition.”

Challenging Long-Held Perspectives

The Fall 2018 Capital Semester class was made up of students from across the United States as well as China, Denmark, Great Britain, Greece and Hungary.

The students took classes from TFAS and RRI faculty, in conjunction with TFAS academic partner George Mason University. Classes included International Economic Policy with TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley, Journalism Internship Seminar with Richard Benedetto, Public Policy Internship Seminar with Karen Czarnecki (ICPES 88) and the American Presidency with Glenn Nye and Dr. Joshua Walker.

A professor stands at the front of the room behind a podium speaking to students during the Capital Semester closing ceremony.
TFAS Professor Karen Czarnecki shares one last economics lesson with students during the closing ceremony.

Natalie Lyons (LTAP-F 18), a political science major from Utah State University, said all of the different discussions in class brought out interesting viewpoints she hadn’t considered before.

“I really loved the economics class. Professor Bradley was just so good at fostering that discussion. I learned about points of view that I never really thought of before because I don’t have a background in economics,” Lyons said. “It made me think about things differently and opened my eyes to a different perspective.”

TFAS professors strive to provide a unique and engaging learning environment, where the class tackles new ideas and economic issues facing the world. Students are encouraged to test those ideas and express their own thoughts, while learning to engage in civil discourse.

Engaging Internship Experiences

During his internship at the Embassy of Israel, Antle helped with projects that preserved and promoted the economic relationship between the United States and Israel.

Now heading back to Alleman, Iowa, where he’s from, Antle feels ready to step into leaderships roles in whatever path his future takes him.

“Washington, D.C., has allowed me the opportunity to flourish outside of my comfort zone, and I have learned how to operationalize my diverse skillset. The intensive and immersive component of this semester was most beneficial to my growth and development as a servant, visionary leader. The Capital Semester program exceeded each and every expectation I had prior to arriving – and now I believe that I am returning home better equipped to practice civic-minded leadership to build a freer society.”

– Kendall Antle (LTAP-F 18)

Tate Cooper (LTAP-F 18), a junior from William Jewel College, interned with Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri.

“Seeing how a legislative office works was really impactful because that was something I had no experience in, and I think a lot of people don’t understand how policy actually gets made,” Copper said. “The office I worked in had a small staff, but those staff members had this incredible breadth of knowledge they used every day. At any given time, each person had 15-20 different subject areas that they’re responsible for.”

Lyons interned with Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana and said her favorite part was meeting constituents and giving Capitol tours.

“Working in the congressman’s office, you’re able to see the interaction between the staff and the constituents. The representatives really do care about the people they are serving in office,” Lyons said. “There is this distance between the people and the representatives, but it was nice to see that the office and the congressman do care about their constituents.”

Building Life-Long Relationships

Beverly Hallberg, president of District Media Group, was the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony. She encouraged the new alumni to continue to build the relationships they made while in D.C. and not be afraid to take risks in their careers if it will get them closer to where they want to be.

a female speaker stand behind a podium, talking to students during the Capital Semester closing ceremony.
Keynote Speaker Beverly Hallberg, president of District Media Group, speaks to students about networking and relationship building.

“I encourage you to be bold, take chances and work hard. And really do find that support system,” Hallberg said. “Do go out there and network and meet people, but find out who they are beyond their job. The relationships that you’ll form, a lot of those will come from being able to ask them about their family, hobbies and interests. Really do take an investment in people and try to get to know them.”

The new alumni have already taken Hallberg’s charge to heart and said one of the most impactful parts of their D.C. experience were the relationships they forged throughout the program.

Cooper said the Capital Semester program, specifically, helped students foster professional relationships.

“What really sets this program apart is the people you get to meet. The lectures and the site briefings that TFAS and RRI put on allowed us to network and build connections we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

– Tate Cooper (LTAP-F 18)

Lyons said not only did the bond she had with her fellow classmates make the experience memorable, but the TFAS speakers and mentors who took time to learn about and connect with the Capital Semester class left a lasting impact.

“Being in such a small group, the 13 of us did everything together. All of those little moments – where we had fun and laughed or had discussions about our different perspectives – those relationships make the experiences so much better,” Lyons said. “And the guest speakers, like Admiral Michael Giorgione and the White House Fellows, they all took the time to read our bios and learn about where we’re from. They really wanted to interact with us and get to know us.”

Investing in Future Leaders

The students also expressed gratitude towards TFAS supporters for investing in them.

“TFAS certainly has great opportunities to network and meet people you can build relationships with that you know you can count on in the future,” Cooper said. “You can donate to plenty of educational or political endeavors, but I think the ability to live and work in D.C. is so important, and that’s really what sets this apart from other programs.”

Hannah Short, Zoltán Szücs, Natalie Lyons and Tate Cooper gather for a photo, while holding their academic achievement awards. See below for award details.

Lyons said her experiences from this semester in D.C. have impacted how she see her future, and that those experiences and the relationships she built wouldn’t have been possible without TFAS supporters.

“My experience in D.C. has definitely given me other ideas about what I want to do. I’m from a small town. You can get those ideas that there are only specific things that you can do and being out here you see so many possibilities and so many ways of making an impact,” Lyons said. “So there really aren’t the words to say thank you. We’ve had so many incredible experiences that if I had come here for just an internship, I wouldn’t have had those experiences.”

The Fall 2018 Capital Semester class joins the ranks of the more than 17,000 TFAS alumni who are making a difference in their communities and throughout the world as professionals in international affairs, business, think tanks, journalism and more.

To learn more about the Capital Semester academic internship program and all other TFAS programs, visit TFAS.org/Programs.


Hannah Short, Academic Excellence in Economics
Zoltán Szücs, Academic Excellence in Media Studies
Tate Cooper, Academic Excellence in Public Policy
Natalie Lyons, Outstanding Student Award


For more images from the celebration, please visit our Facebook page.


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