Home » News » Capital Semester Fall Students Graduate With Outstanding Honors; Spring Students Start Their TFAS Journey In D.C.

Capital Semester Fall Students Graduate With Outstanding Honors; Spring Students Start Their TFAS Journey In D.C.


Capital Semester Fall Students Graduate With Outstanding Honors; Spring Students Start Their TFAS Journey In D.C.

On Dec. 11, 2015, the Capital Semester Fall students joined the TFAS alumni network with a closing ceremony and reception at TFAS headquarters. More than 85 TFAS supporters, alumni, internship supervisors, parents and friends attended the ceremony to support the 18 students in the graduating class.

During the ceremony, TFAS professor and alumna Karen Czarnecki (ICPES 88) of George Mason University’s School of Law spoke to the students on behalf of the faculty and gave a brief overview of the many lessons they learned in their courses.

Student graduation speaker Mbaye Niane (CSF 15) smiles at the podium during his reflection on his TFAS semester.

“You’ve learned more about economic incentives, opportunity cost, viewing the news with a critical eye and our constitutional government’s deliberate design,” Czarnecki said. “I hope you’ve also learned to appreciate many different alternative views other than your own.”

Student graduation speaker Mbaye Niane (CSF 15) served as the class representative and gave remarks on behalf of the 2015 Capital Semester Fall students.

Niane is a recent graduate from University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he studied economics and international business. Niane is a Senegalese native, and he grew up in Syria. Last semester he interned with the Microcredit Summit Campaign.

During his remarks, Niane thanked TFAS for their support of each student on their journey through the program.

“TFAS tirelessly toiled and used their extensive network to secure outstanding internship placements, where we learned, grew and lived,” Niane said.

He also reflected on the time he spent with his classmates and the memories they shared during the 16 week program.

“In tandem with our educational and professional lives, TFAS gave me a new family of lifelong friends,” Niane said. “I met an extremely diverse group of students who are intelligent, passionate, ambitious and loving. As a team, we embarked on many adventures, which led to unwavering friendships that I know will persist for the rest of our lives.”

Following Niane’s remarks Brian Lopina, principal of Lungren Lopina, LLC gave the keynote address and spoke to the students about the most important takeaways from their semester in Washington. He gave the students a “test” to take home to reflect on their semester experiences:

  1. What did I learn about myself in this program?
    2. What do I wish I would have done better?
    3. What do I need to follow up on?
    4. Did I thank everyone I needed to thank?
    5. Did I help other people?


Lopina then congratulated the students on their outstanding accomplishments during the program.

“You have an incredibly bright future ahead of you, and for what you have learned at TFAS, you have a big leg up on your peers,” Lopina said. “This is an outstanding program, and you should be very proud of yourselves for completing it.”

Last semester’s class was full of exceptional students who are sure to become leaders and change-makers of tomorrow. Five students received TFAS awards for their outstanding academic performance and participation during the semester.

Alumna and Capital Semester student award recipient Sierra Blanchard-Hodge (CSF 15) poses with her certificate and professors Dr. Anne Bradley and Dr. John Samples .

Congratulations to the following alumni for receiving achievement awards during the commencement ceremony:

  • Academic Excellence in Economics – Daphne Thompson (CSF 15), Arizona State University
  • Academic Excellence in Public Policy – Sierra Blanchard-Hodge (CSF 15), Xavier University
  • Academic Excellence in Journalism – Thomas Sudul (CSF 15), Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Academic Excellence in Constitutional Studies – Robert Sekuloski (CSF 15), Broward College
  • Director’s Award for Outstanding Overall Performance – Kara Morgan (CSF 15), Northeastern University

In addition to their TFAS accomplishments, four Capital Semester students finished their internships with new jobs or internship opportunities.

Miriam Amchin (CSF 15) of Louisville University was offered a fundraising internship with St. Jude’s Hospital, Sean Ruff (CSF 15), University of Tennessee, and Mbaye Niane (CSF 15), have both moved to Washington to begin their professional careers and Isabela Christo (CSF 15), IBMEC, will be interning with the Atlas Network as part of the Koch Internship Program this spring.

Congratulations to these 18 new members of the TFAS alumni network!


CSS 16 Class Photo

Capital Semester alumna Federica Rabiolo (CSS 10) offers advice to the newest class of TFAS students.

The students kicked off their first weekend in D.C. with a TFAS scavenger hunt. To see more photos from their adventures around their new city, visit Twitter.com/#TFASHunt.

Just four short weeks after the fall students graduated, 13 new students moved into their Capitol Hill neighborhood apartments. The Capital Semester Spring 2016 program officially began on Jan. 14 with an orientation and welcome ceremony in the TFAS classroom.

During orientation, the students heard from TFAS staff, faculty and alumni and learned more about one another and the exciting semester ahead.

TFAS alumna and manager of external affairs at eBay, Federica Rabiolo (CSS 10), was the keynote speaker during the program. Rabiolo spoke to the students about her TFAS experience and shared tips as a D.C. insider on how to make the most of their time in Washington.

“TFAS is an investment and if you leverage your time in this program correctly, I have no doubt you have a really bright future ahead of you,” Rabiolo said.

The students are already following her advice by diving right into their TFAS experience. They began their internships and coursework last week.

In class, the students will study economics, government and journalism at the George Mason University campus in Arlington, Virginia with returning TFAS professors Dr. John Samples of the Cato Institute, alumna Karen Czarnecki (ICPES 88) of George Mason University’s School of Law, retired USA Today journalist Richard Benedetto and Dr. Anne Bradley, vice president of economic initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.

In January alone, the Capital Semester students have already attended site briefings and tours at the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress, and have heard from TFAS alumni during mentoring and professional development seminars.

The students kicked off their first weekend in D.C. with a TFAS scavenger hunt. To see more photos from their adventures around their new city, visit Twitter.com/#TFASHunt.

To see more of the Capital Semester students’ journey in D.C., follow TFAS on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and visit www.TFAS.org/photos.


Jerel Ballard, Columbia College Chicago

Haley Britzky, Texas Tech University

John Bush, University of Virginia

Patrick Dupeire, Flagler College

Stefany Henriquez, St. Joseph’s College

Christopher Julius, University of Colorado – Denver

Marianne March, Georgia State University

Aaron Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Friedl Nugent, University of the Ozarks

Gabrielle Quintana, University of Florida

Samuel Rostow, University of Vermont

Rachel Spacek, University of Nevada, Reno

Erika Stablow, Irvine Valley College



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