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Redefining Normal: TFAS Alumni Share Words of Wisdom at Summer 2023 Closing Ceremony


“Set the standard, let your faith order your steps and redefine the normal,” said Justin Black ’18, ’19 during his parting words of wisdom to TFAS graduates at the Closing Ceremony on July 27, 2023, at George Mason University.

Alexis ’17, ’18 and Justin Black ’18, ’19 pose for a photo with TFAS president Roger Ream after receiving the 2023 Young Alumni Award.

TFAS was proud to present Alexis Black ’17, ’18 and Justin with the 2023 Young Alumni Award for their outstanding achievements. This award is given to an alumnus/a who is aged 30 years or younger and has demonstrated remarkable potential in their professional field and/or has dedicated a significant amount of time to TFAS or community service.

During their award acceptance and keynote remarks, the Blacks challenged TFAS graduates to forge their own paths, acknowledging that the journey may not always be easy, yet emphasizing that such determination would ultimately benefit their families in the future.

It’s easy to follow the crowd but doing what’s easy will make it hard for the next generation.” – Justin Black ’18, ’19

“Redefine normal,” said Justin. “It’s easy to follow the crowd but doing what’s easy will make it hard for the next generation.”

Justin Black challenges TFAS graduates to “redefine normal.”

Throughout the summer, students were provided with the opportunity to engage with business leaders, policy experts, economists and journalists, allowing them to delve into a diverse range of potential career possibilities. Justin congratulated graduates for embarking on the initial stride towards creating a lasting impact on their personal and professional journeys.

“Congratulations on building new relationships during this summer,” he said. “Congratulations on new opportunity. Congratulations on opening the door that will change your life forever.”

TFAS alumni, supporters and friends celebrate graduates at the 2023 Closing Ceremony.

Married TFAS alumni Justin and Alexis Black know firsthand what it means to “redefine normal.” After spending both of their childhoods in the foster care system, they challenged each other to break the cycle of generational poverty, addiction and unhealthy behaviors by creating their own definition of a new “normal.”

Alexis attended the Leadership + the American Presidency Capital Semester Program in the fall of 2017 and Justin attended the Journalism + Communication Summer Program the following year. After having a profound experience with their first TFAS programs in D.C., together they attended TFAS Asia in 2019.

Since then, they have become best-selling authors of “Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovering Healing, Happiness, and Love” and “I Love You More Than Cereal: Maeva and Dad Redefine Love,” all while launching a new movement: Redefining Normal.

TFAS is grateful for alumni like Justin and Alexis who share their astounding life experiences and accomplishments after completing a TFAS program.

Watch the full TFAS D.C. Closing Ceremony below, and stay tuned for more coverage of summer programs.


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