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Featured Alumna: Mary Ellen Burke (IPJ 2005)

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In her role as State Communications Manager, Mary Ellen Burke (IPJ 05) focuses on strategic communication messaging and media outreach for the free market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Working with over 26 state chapters, Burke helped organize hundreds of state and national rallies and tea parties in opposition to President Obama’s health care bill.

However, Burke was not always interested in rallying groups towards her political beliefs. As she puts it, “I was a diligent and promising student before I came to TFAS, but I left that summer equipped and empowered to be a leader.”

During her time at Marquette University, Burke was a journalism major and even established a conservative newspaper, The Warrior. Throughout the summer of 2005, she worked with the weekly newspaper Human Events in Washington, D.C. while she was a student with IPJ.

“Being a journalism major, I didn’t take a college economics class until my summer at TFAS,” said Burke. “I was blown away at how each lesson held practical value in my every day life and in my internship working for a newspaper. And soon I began to wonder how journalists could even do their jobs without a solid understanding of our free market system.”

Burke graduated from Marquette in 2007 and soon after moved back to Washington, D.C., embarking on a career with the Leadership Institute where she taught conservative college students how to voice their free market principles on campus in the form of a written publication.

In fact, after a year of professional experience under her belt, Burke wrote a letter to the College of Communication at her alma mater, urging them to require more economics for aspiring journalists.

Burke is the most recent winner of the TFAS Young Alumni Award, which was presented to her during the Annual Conference in Washington in April 2010. She has also served as a 2006 Freedom Scholar, a 2008 Leadership Fellow, and as a mentor for several summer students. “When I have the pleasure of mentoring an IPJ student every summer, I encourage them to embrace the teachings of their [economics classes and reassure] them that they will be a better professional and citizen because of it.”

Burke is originally from Waukegan, Ill. and currently lives in Arlington, Virgina. She plays softball every summer on a D.C. think tank league, goes to karaoke night with friends and volunteers for Virginia political campaigns.

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