On Dec. 13, TFAS celebrated the newest Capital Semester Fall (CSF) graduates with a commencement ceremony at TFAS Headquarters. The celebration included remarks by TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76), Professor Richard Benedetto and Jon Decker, White House correspondent for SiriusXM’s POTUS channel.
The CSF class of 2013 was the first to graduate the program under the recent partnership with George Mason University. Mark Pfundstein, TFAS program manager at George Mason University, said the collaboration is a wonderful fit given the similar objectives of TFAS and GMU.
“TFAS’ twin mottos are ‘Teaching Freedom Since 1967,’ and ‘Live, Learn and Intern,’ and George Mason’s motto is ‘Freedom and Learning,’ and I think this demonstrates that the partnership is perfect.”
The 15-week program included full-time internships in addition to three upper-level economics and government classes accredited through George Mason University.
Student Ethan Thursby (CSF 13) said his semester in D.C. challenged him, and he hopes to come back in the future.
“I would definitely recommend TFAS to anyone. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Thursby said. “D.C. is clearly where the action is happening.”
When not in class or at their internships, students attended site briefings at venues such as: the World Bank, U.S. Department of State, the Chilean Embassy and the National Press Club. Students volunteered at D.C. Central Kitchen and enjoyed cultural and social events such as trips to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Newseum.
TFAS President Roger Ream encouraged the new graduates to stay connected with TFAS.
“You’re now part of our alumni network. We hope you’ll stay in touch with us. There are more than 14,000 alumni of our programs. Wherever you go you will find our alumni,” Ream said.
Jon Decker, White House correspondent for SiriusXM Satellite Radio, shared some career advice as the keynote speaker.
“You have to pursue what makes you happy even if there is some uncertainty,” Decker said. “Ultimately, opportunities are created by you.”
Decker said the most important quality for students to embrace is positivity.
Student graduation speaker Claudette Yazbek (CSF 13), a law student from Australia, shared about the support of her friends and classmates throughout her internship at Al Arabiya, and that often, her first editor was her roommate.
“You have all given me reasons not only to return to D.C., but to Oregon and Hawaii, California, Kansas and Tennessee,” Yazbek said.
Finally, Yazbek summed up her group’s semester with TFAS.
“Living in Washington, D.C., the hub of international relations and foreign affairs has been an unparalleled experience.”
The following students received academic awards during the ceremony:
- Academic Excellence in Economics, Robert Smith (CSF 13)
- Academic Excellence in Public Policy, Kiarash Rahnama (CSF 13)
- Academic Excellence in Journalism, Claudette Yazbek (CSF 13)
- Academic Excellence in Constitutional Studies, Kari Noborikawa (CSF 13)
- Director’s Award for Outstanding Participation, Ethan Thursby (CSF 13)
Capital Semester Spring 2014 will get underway in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 15, 2014. For information on the Capital Semester Spring Program, please visit www.DCInternships.org/CS