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Expect The Unexpected: Samantha Summers’ Capital Semester With TFAS


Samantha Summers ’13 said her semester of working and interning in D.C. could be described in one phrase: “expect the unexpected in D.C.”

Summers, a political science student, spent the fall taking classes at George Mason University through The Fund for American Studies Capital Semester program. She interned at The Heritage Foundation in their government relations department. Nearing the end of her experience, Summers said one thing that she will be expecting is her return to D.C. in the future.

“TFAS, and working at The Heritage Foundation, has taught me D.C. is where I want to launch a career. I love it here and I want to come back and live on Capitol Hill.”

Summers’ personal duties during her internship included updating the organization’s database of contacts, writing blog posts about different events for the website and researching for staff projects. In preparation for the 2014 election cycle, Summers and fellow interns created a biography database of potential candidates.

The Heritage Foundation interns had weekly briefings from a senior staff member about conservative principles, the organization’s founding, goals and the staff’s progress in working towards these goals.

“My experience gave me a new perspective on looking at issues. I’ve learned how to come into a conversation with someone who doesn’t have the same viewpoint and be articulate my opinion,” she said.

In addition to her internship, Summers and fellow Capital Semester students took three classes on upper-level government and economics, accredited by George Mason University. Classes included: Constitutional Interpretation, taught by Professor John Samples of the Cato Institute, Economic Problems and Public Policies, taught by Brian Blase of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and an Internship Seminar, taught by TFAS Alumna Karen Czarnecki ’88 of George Mason School of Law and Professor Richard Benedetto, formerly of USA Today.

Summers found her Internship Seminar with Professor Czarnecki particularly helpful. “Professor Czarnecki gave me great advice about my future plans to work in politics, because she formerly worked on the Hill,” she said.

Students also attended briefings at D.C. places of power, including the World Bank and U.S. Department of State.

“The World Bank briefing was really interesting,” said Summers. “I had heard about the World Bank but I didn’t know much about what they do. It was interesting to hear about the work that they’re doing and the funding that they get.”

At the State Department students observed Jana Nelson, Brazil desk officer at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, speak about “U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges and Opportunities with Brazil.”

“I know a lot of facts about Brazil now that I didn’t previously, and actually just going to the State Department was pretty cool,” Summers said.

Outside of classes, homework and interning, Summers and her classmates took advantage of all of the D.C. events and sights. Summers and her friends made it a goal to visit a couple sites each weekend. They went to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, monuments and all over the city. “There are so many free things to do here,” said Summers. “You need to take advantage of everything.”

And then there was brunch.

Summers said it was a “weekend tradition” to eat brunch at different restaurants throughout the district. She said in California brunch is not a cultural phenomenon like it is in D.C. “There are so many great deals here and you can go to any part of the district and find a lot of great brunch spots.  We haven’t been to the same place twice.”

Before heading home next week, Summers will attend the 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting with one of her classmates, who won a ticket in the lottery to attend the event.

After Capital Semester graduation, Summers will head back to her native California for warmer weather, and join the West Coast TFAS alumni group in L.A. that Lily Harrison, director of Capital Semester told her about.

Summers knows she will stay in touch with TFAS, especially when the expected happens and she returns to D.C.  “Lily HarrisonMatt Phister, and Kaitlin Koett have done so much for us this semester.  I know I will be in touch with them when I come back,” Summers said.

To learn more about the Capital Semester program, visit www.DCinternships.org/CS.



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