Promising young leaders in Colorado are getting the chance to travel the globe and broaden their horizons at TFAS educational programs thanks to a continuing scholarship set in place by Mr. William J. Hybl, vice chair-international of the TFAS Board of Trustees.
Mr. Hybl is chairman and chief executive officer of El Pomar Foundation, a leading philanthropic foundation in the Rocky Mountain region. He has also dedicated much of his life to the U.S. Olympic movement and the cause of public diplomacy. He is president emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), having served as president during four Olympic games. He currently serves as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Endowment. Mr. Hybl was confirmed by the United States Senate as chairman of the seven-member U.S. Commission on Public Diplomacy, a position he was appointed to by President George W. Bush and later reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 and again in 2015. He currently serves as vice chairman.
Mr. Hybl is a great friend to TFAS and has supported student education through several initiatives including sponsoring Air Force cadets to attend U.S. and international TFAS programs. Along with his wife, Kathy, and son, Kyle – a two-time TFAS alumnus – , he established the Hybl Family Scholarship in 2007 to ensure students attending college in Colorado could participate in TFAS programs in Washington, D.C., Prague, and Hong Kong. This January, TFAS welcomed its first Hybl Family Scholars to the TFAS Institute for Leadership and the Americas (ILA) program in Santiago, Chile.
Ellie Laughlin (ILA 17) was one student who traded in the cold Colorado winter for two weeks this January to study the importance of economics and public policy in sunny Santiago. Laughlin is one of the nearly 50 students who convened in Santiago for the 2017 Institute for Leadership and the Americas (ILA) TFAS program.
When Laughlin saw the flyer to study economics and public policy in Chile with TFAS, she was excited about the opportunity, but was hesitant to apply. Laughlin is completing her degree at Colorado University-Denver in public health on a pre-med track, an academic background that she didn’t think would be an asset to the politics and economics-focused program. It was the Hybl Family Scholarship and encouragement from her academic advisor that motivated her to bring her diverse background and experience to Santiago.
Upon attending the first lecture, Laughlin was surprised to learn her degree was actually a perfect fit for discussing the engaging topics at ILA and said that her mindset of wanting to do more in her community through a public health career helped her learn more about how everything comes back to policy.
“I learned a lot about how government systems function,” Laughlin said. “I learned how much policies and lawmaking really do affect communities every day.”
Before the program, Laughlin thought her TFAS courses would be limited to the study of political systems, but she was surprised to learn there was so much more, especially in Professor Bradley Thompson’s course where she learned how strong morals and honorable leadership are vital to a free society.
“Stay true to your morals.” Laughlin recalls this motto as the biggest lesson she learned during Dr. Thompson’s class on the philosophical and moral aspects of leadership, economics and politics.
“I wasn’t expecting to have philosophical talks within political discussions, but it was cool to see how old philosophers fit into the new ways of society,” she said.
Colorado University-Colorado Springs student Sylkin Barksdale (ILA 17) is studying public health with an academic concentration in women and ethnic studies. Like Laughlin, she wasn’t sure that her academic background was best suited for a program like ILA.
In addition to her academic hesitations, Barksdale was nervous about traveling to a country with a different language than the U.S. Upon arrival at ILA, she immediately realized she was wrong about this notion and was excited to learn more about the many cultures and backgrounds each of the students represented.
I was amazed to learn how much all of the students from around the world really had in common,” Barksdale recalled. “An important lesson I learned was how to communicate with other people through this global network.”
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Hybl, Barksdale was able to realize her potential and, like Laughlin, she now sees how economics and policy relates to every job field or issue.
One highlight for these two students was meeting the person who made their TFAS experience possible when Mr. Hybl spoke to the class.
“When Mr. Hybl came to the ILA program, he taught us the importance of seeking out new and challenging opportunities,” Barksdale recalled. “He inspired us to follow in his footsteps and take leaps into the unknown to be successful in life.”
Mr. Hybl has supported TFAS students for more than 30 years, by providing scholarship funding, advice and mentorship to students from Colorado University system schools and to Air Force Academy Cadets.
These scholarship recipients pay it forward by taking the best advantage of their TFAS experience.
Hybl Family Scholarship recipients have proven time after time to be some of the best and brightest TFAS students each year,” said Michelle Le (IPJ 95, AIPES 96), TFAS vice president of international and alumni programs. “They take the opportunities from TFAS programs and use it to better their communities, countries and the world.”
The Hybl Family Scholars of 2017 are no exception. Past students who have received the scholarship, David Stoffey (AIPE 15) and Jacob Altholz (AIPE 16), are two more examples of alumni who continue to shine after their time as TFAS students.
Stoffey currently works at the Charles Koch Foundation as a researcher focusing on foreign policy issues. He recently completed the 2016-17 TFAS Public Policy Fellowship, where he joined other young TFAS alumni in a yearlong continuing education, networking and professional development program in Washington, D.C.
Since completing the TFAS program in Hong Kong last summer, Altholz has remained involved in TFAS alumni activities as a scholar in the TFAS Curriculum of Liberty continuing education program. During this weekend seminar, co-sponsored by TFAS and Liberty Fund, Inc., Altholz studied and discussed the fundamental principles of “Liberty and Equality” through readings from Thomas Sowell, Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek, H.B. Acton and more.
Both 2017 ILA Hybl Family Scholars – Laughlin and Barksdale – want to obtain careers in public health with the knowledge and experience they gained because of Mr. Hybl’s investment in their TFAS education.
“I want to thank Mr. Hybl and all of the TFAS supporters for providing opportunities like this,” Barksdale said. “I did not take it for granted, and I will take what I learned at ILA and employ it in my own community.”
To learn more about Mr. William J. Hybl and his work with the El Pomar Foundation, visit their website.
To learn how you can join in to support rising leaders, visit TFAS.org/support.