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Liberty + Leadership News: August 20


We hope you enjoy these top news stories about TFAS activities, alumni and events this week. Please visit us on social media for additional up-to-the-moment TFAS news and information and sign up to receive weekly updates.

“Always All In” – TFAS Students Share Impact of Living, Learning, Interning and Connecting in Nation’s Capital

Maanasa Muppavarappu ’21 (left) shared that her class with Dr. Anne Bradley this summer ignited her passion for economics.

Home to the world’s most influential business leaders, policymakers and journalists, Washington, D.C., is a global networking hub that welcomes thousands of young leaders for summer internships each year. In addition to internship placements, TFAS D.C. Academic Internship Programs offer college students exclusive access to academic coursework and networking opportunities. During the 2021 TFAS D.C. Summer Program closing ceremony on July 29, several participants reflected on a pivotal eight weeks living, learning, interning and connecting in the nation’s capital.

While living in D.C., TFAS summer students take extensive courses in government, politics and economics at George Mason University. Business + Government Relations student Maanasa Muppavarappu ’21 shared that her economics class with TFAS Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Anne Bradley ignited her passion for economics and challenged her preconceived notions about the field.

“Coming into TFAS, I was so sure that I knew exactly what I wanted to study going forward,” Muppavarappu said. “I was positive that after getting my master’s [degree in accounting], I was going to go straight to law school, learn all about securities litigation, and then go work for the Securities Exchange Commission. While most of that is still true, my ECON 309 class with Professor Bradley made me realize I also really love economics.”

I’m very thankful for TFAS for giving me the opportunity to learn so many new things this summer.” – Maanasa Muppavarappu ’21

A recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Muppavarappu also shared that her newfound passion for economics has encouraged her to pursue a dual degree program in both law and economics when applying to law schools in the fall. She credits her TFAS summer with showing her all the opportunities the world has to offer.

“I’m very thankful for TFAS for giving me the opportunity to learn so many new things this summer,” Muppavarappu said.

Read more about TFAS students’ summer experiences at TFAS.org/StudentRemarks21.

Alumni Staff Spotlight: Michelle Le

TFAS students know firsthand the transformational benefits of our programs. Some alumni participate in multiple programs to see more of what TFAS has to offer, and some alumni are so captivated by TFAS’s impact they return as staff members. This affords them the opportunity to pass along their enthusiasm for liberty and leadership to the next generation of TFAS students. In our interview series with these individuals, we’re introducing the seven current alumni staff members to showcase the people behind our programs.

Le has helped establish many of the TFAS international programs and enjoys visiting host countries to check in with students. (Photo: TFAS Santiago 2018)

Michelle Le ’95, ’96, a two-time alumna of TFAS programs, first encountered TFAS in the D.C. Academic Internship Programs Journalism + Communications track in 1995. She participated in TFAS Prague in 1996 and began working at TFAS in 1998. Le’s job title and responsibilities have changed over the years, but she now serves as the vice president of international and alumni programs.

Le shared that her greatest takeaway from being involved with TFAS for over 25 years is understanding the value of respecting different perspectives on world issues.

“I’ve learned that it’s important to embrace the ability and desire to engage with those who are culturally, religiously or philosophically different from us,” Le said. “It doesn’t mean wavering from your core values, but in order to really defend ideas, you have to understand where others are coming from. We allow students the time and space to seriously engage with new ideas, to challenge them and challenge each other.”

Learn more about Le’s journey with TFAS at TFAS.org/LeSpotlight.

TFAS Students Follow in Their Parents’ Footsteps: Tony and Emily Mecia

For more than 50 years, TFAS has provided transformational academic programs for young adults to learn the values essential to a free society.

TFAS has remained committed to providing academic courses, hands-on internships, guest lectures and the opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital to undergraduate students. For many alumni, the experience was so profoundly impactful that they encouraged their children to attend a TFAS summer program years later.

Emily Mecia ’21 (center) participated in the Business + Government relations program this summer.

Tony Mecia ’92, ’93 was a sophomore at Duke University when he was accepted to a TFAS D.C. Academic Internship Program in the summer of 1992. After a successful summer in Washington, Mecia was hooked. He returned to TFAS as a student in 1993 for the first TFAS International program in Prague. Upon graduating from college, Mecia joined TFAS as a full-time staff member for a year before getting his master’s degree in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I remember there being so much energy in D.C. that summer, and it was eye-opening to be a part of that,” he said.

Considering his life-changing experience at TFAS, it’s unsurprising that Mecia wanted his child to have the same opportunity. Mecia’s daughter, Emily ’21, is a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The well-rounded offerings of academics, professional development, internship placement, and the chance to live in D.C. inspired the business administration student to apply to TFAS’s Business + Government Relations program track. She also knew how meaningful an opportunity it was for her dad and wanted to share the same experiences he did.

“My dad made many lifelong connections through TFAS and is still good friends with his coworkers and friends that he made that summer,” Emily said. “He described TFAS as a life-changing experience and he absolutely loved living in D.C. His positive experience with TFAS definitely furthered my interest in applying for the program.”

Read about Tony and Emily Mecia’s TFAS experiences at TFAS.org/MeciaLegacy.

Post of the Week

During the summer 2021 closing ceremony, TFAS alumna Sarah Dawn Petrin ’95 shared career advice with TFAS students as they joined the TFAS alumni network. Read about Petrin’s remarks at TFAS.org/Petrin.


TFAS Grewcock Senior Scholar Dr. Donald Devine writes for The American Spectator on continued work-from-home policies and government mandates.

Glynis Gilio, Law ’19, is now a First Amendment Fellow at the Institute for Free Speech, where she will work alongside attorneys to challenge restrictions on Americans’ first amendment rights.

Sarah Westwood, Novak ’15, explains how redistricting across the country will affect the 2022 midterm elections in a piece for the Washington Examiner.

Peter Suderman, Novak ’10, explains in Reason why past welfare reform legislation has proven that employment reduces poverty more than government assistance.

Matthew Continetti, Novak ’08, has a new book coming out in April titled “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism,” which will explore the history of the last 100 years of the conservative movement.

Carrie Sheffield ’06, Novak ’06, opines for Independent Women’s Forum on how the latest infrastructure bill could impact inflation in the U.S.

Graham Kilmer ’15 reports for Urban Milwaukee on the recent eviction moratorium.

TFAS professor Dr. Ibrahim Al-Marashi ’01 compares and contrasts the recent military collapse of Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq by ISIS in 2014 for Alsiasi News.

Matthew Walther, Novak ’16, writes about the economics of fast food jobs in The American Conservative.

Jeremy Harrell ’07, PPF ’10, writes for The Hill on the Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act.

Connect with @TFASorg on social media!


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