As Americans celebrated Independence Day all over the world, the TFAS network was especially grateful for those men and women who have also graced TFAS programs with their inspiration and leadership. The TFAS community is fortunate to have had many men and women from the service attend programs, teach classes, share insights and inspire everyone with their bravery throughout the years.
For alumna Jessica Lukasik (AIPE 13), ensign, U.S. Coast Guard, her time in the AIPE program in Hong Kong complemented her undergraduate degree in government and international relations. She said TFAS helped her develop a level of awareness and comfort in cross-cultural interactions that will be crucial in her future career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is unlike any other military branch in that our missions require us to interact on an intensive level with Americans and citizens of other countries in equal parts,” Lukasik wrote. “We have a reputation to maintain, not only as a law enforcement agency, but also as a humanitarian and life-saving service. This means that Coast Guard officers must be diplomatic, courteous and professional in their interactions with all people, including across cultural groups. I cannot think of any better training or practice developing this skill than the TFAS experience.”
After graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May 2014, Lukasik will continue her intercultural expansion with a Fulbright scholarship to study sustainable marine management in Mauritius. She will also work on earning her master’s in economics from the University of Mauritius while completing her Fulbright research.
TFAS alumnus Stephen Houserman (IEIA 13) spent Independence Day in California for military training. He wrote to TFAS from the desert about his experience in the Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA) and his six years in the Marine Corps.
Houserman, sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve at India Company, spent three years as an active duty Logistics Chief in Okinawa Japan before he attended IEIA. During his active duty service, he visited a majority of the Asian Pacific countries and worked on humanitarian missions such as the Japan Tsunami and floods in the Philippines.
In 2012 when he left active duty status, he started pursuing a degree. He attended the University of the Ozarks where his professors recommended TFAS to him.
“My military career taught me a variety of professional skills, but I still needed to learn how to employ these skills in the civilian sector,” Houserman wrote. “I think TFAS was the extra dimension I needed to ensure my military and academic experiences are fully realized and appreciated by myself and those I work with.”
Houserman said he especially valued the networking opportunities he had through TFAS, and TFAS Professor Nancy Bocskor’s internship seminar.
“I brought my experience in D.C. back to my marines at India Company. I used some of the professional lessons I picked up there to help grow my marines into better leaders.”
Thanks to the bravery of these TFAS alumni and other men and women, everyone can celebrate our independence. Happy July Fourth everyone!