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Capital Semester Students Explore D.C. and Hear from Leading Alumni


The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) kicked off its Spring 2023 Capital Semester last month with a new cohort of driven college students from the United States and Poland. Students have already heard from a variety of alumni working at top organizations in Washington, D.C., including Chase Forrester ’16, with America First Policy Institute, Josh Sorbe ’18, with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and Abby Nugent ’16, with the American Enterprise Institute.

Students are spending their semester expanding their knowledge on international affairs and public policy while earning up to 12 credit hours of intensive academic courses through George Mason University.

In addition to their internships, students are gaining real-world knowledge from attending guest lectures, exclusive site briefings and from key professionals during networking events. This year’s distinguished class is living, learning and interning in the nation’s capital as they learn to become courageous leaders who are equipped to protect and advance the ideas of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic freedom. 

A Warm TFAS Alumni Welcome

Chase Forrester ’16 reconnects with TFAS staff before her welcome ceremony keynote remarks.

TFAS was delighted to have special guest and TFAS alumna Chase Forrester ’16, join the cohort for breakfast during the welcome ceremony. As someone who was once in their position not long ago, Forrester knows firsthand how exciting and challenging adjusting to a new city as a young college student can be. In 2016, she attended the TFAS Leadership + the American Presidency program track. After graduation, she worked at TFAS for two years as a coordinator for the Capital Semester and Leadership + the American Presidency programs and went on to work in fundraising and development for campaigns.

It’s so important that while you’re networking to create genuine  not transactional relationships with people.” – Chase Forrester ’16

Spring 2023 Capital Semester students meet with Chris Maneval ’09, ’15 after touring the U.S. Capitol.

In her keynote remarks, Forrester challenged students to be cognizant about how they are perceived – whether by their boss or amongst each other. She also shared the importance of creating genuine connections when networking. “It’s so important that while you’re networking, to create genuine not transactional relationships with people,” Forrester said.

Forrester credits TFAS for providing her with a tremendous amount of opportunity which allowed her to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to get her to where she is today. She urged students to seize each opportunity that presents itself this semester as it may be beneficial to them later on in their careers.

“There is an incredible amount of opportunity here,” Forrester said. “I would not be where I am today without it because of the people. The staff here – Roger, Steve, Joe, Randy, everyone here – they’re here to invest in you. They see a future for you.”

In the TFAS Classroom

This year’s esteemed faculty includes, Dr. Milorad Lazic, a professor from George Washington University and the U.S. Naval Academy, who is joining TFAS for the first time to teach American Foreign Policy. Students are also taking International Economic Policy with George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education and TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley and an internship seminar, co-taught with Dr. Richard Benedetto and Vice President of Outreach at the Mercatus Center, Karen Czarnecki ’88.

Martyna Pawluk ’22, ’23 (center) with friends during TFAS Prague 2022.

Martyna Pawluk ’22, ’23, a student from Poland attending the Warsaw School of Economics is thrilled to join TFAS for her second program. Through the Rowny Paderewski Scholarship Fund, Pawluk was able to come to the United States for the first time to participate in this life changing program this spring. In honor of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s philosophy that freedom and democracy can be enhanced through education and the arts, this endowed scholarship fund provides Polish students the opportunity to participate in a TFAS program held in the U.S.

I’m most excited about this whole opportunity – to learn and to grow not only professionally through my internship but also personally from the connections that I will make during my time here.” – Martyna Pawluk ’22, ’23

Prior to attending this spring’s Capital Semester program, she attended the 2022 TFAS International Program in Prague. She said she’s eager to grow her network internationally while also establishing personal connections.

“I’m most excited about this whole opportunity – to learn and to grow not only professionally through my internship but also personally from the connections that I will make during my time here,” Pawluk said.

Alumni Leading the Way for TFAS Students

During the first month of the program, students connected with several TFAS alumni volunteers who returned to the classroom to share their advice and wisdom since participating in TFAS.

Josh Sorbe ’18 and Abby Nugent ’16 meet with the Spring 2023 Capital Semester cohort.

Most recently, students met with Chris Maneval ’09, ’15, deputy chief of staff for the House Majority Whip, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota to hear about his career on Capitol Hill. The cohort’s visit also included a tour of the Capitol and the floor of the House of Representatives.

At the Young Alumni Panel, students heard from two established TFAS alumni, who found themselves working in Washington, D.C., shortly after participating in a TFAS program. Abby Nugent ’16 and Josh Sorbe ’18, shared with students about their life after TFAS while offering advice on how to make the most of their time at TFAS.

Students were intrigued by Nugent’s and Sorbe’s transition from TFAS students to the working world of Washington, D.C., and asked for guidance on how they got to where they are now.

Sorbe advised students to make close connections with people who are a few years older and that have more experience in the field that they’re interested in so that they can look up to them as a mentor. “Make friends with people who may be three or four years older because when you’re looking to apply for a new job, people are always willing to look out for good people,” Sorbe said.

Sierra Carman ’14 shares insight with Lluvia Castillo ’23 at the Mentor Breakfast.

With the TFAS Mentorship program, the students are achieving just that. The class first got to know their TFAS mentors who provide them with direction, advice and often a lifelong friendship at the Mentor Breakfast this month. TFAS is grateful to have six alumni who are serving as mentors to our students this spring.

Throughout the semester, students will continue to attend exclusive site briefings around the Washington, D.C., area and hear from prominent alumni and leaders in the nation’s capital. 

Students will meet with communications expert TFAS Regent, Chris Ullman, attend a Constitutional Leadership Seminar with TFAS Senior Scholar, Dr. Donald Devine, visit the Victims of Communism Museum on a class trip with Dr. Anne Bradley, tour the National Press Club, take in the views of the city from to the top of the Washington Monument and network with local alumni at the Alumni Industry Insiders: National Security + Foreign Policy event.  

TFAS is thankful for each of our alumni, faculty, supporters and friends who continue to volunteer and support TFAS, which contributes to the development and success of the next generation of courageous leaders.


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