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Seattle Alumnus Coaches Students on Starting Line of TFAS Journey

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John Dogero headshot
John Dogero loved his TFAS experience so much, he’s spreading the word so more students can gain a vital TFAS education.

When John Dogero (CSS 06, IIPES 06) was accepted for a TFAS semester in Washington, D.C., he gained more than he could have ever expected. He eventually experienced two transformative TFAS programs and gained a group of treasured friends, a large professional network and a solidified passion for championing limited government, personal responsibility and individual liberty.

Dogero is now a senior consultant at a technology and management firm in Seattle, Washington and an MBA candidate at Seattle University, where he is actively seeking out and mentoring undergraduate students with free-market views. Dogero has also been coaching particularly motivated students to attend TFAS programs and bring their experiences and education back to campus.

Three of those students attended the 2017 Capital Semester Fall (CSF) and Leadership and the American Presidency Fall (LTAP-F) programs in Washington, D.C.: Jon Cantalini (CSF 17), Patrick McGarry Jr. (CSF 17) and Margaret “Maggie” Roberts (LTAP-F 17).

“Jon, Maggie and Patrick already had ambitious plans for graduate school and careers in public service,” Dogero said. “They each immediately realized how TFAS would help them reach those goals. I highlighted the value of a D.C. internship, as well as the incredible friendships they would make through TFAS.” Just acquaintances before their TFAS journey began, Cantalini, McGarry and Roberts are now close friends, who bonded over the incomparable experiences they shared in their D.C. adventure.

TFAS vice president Steve Slattery and John Dogero
TFAS Executive Vice President Steve Slattery (left) presents John Dogero with his graduation certificate and a book as a gift at the 2006 Capital Semester Spring Closing Ceremony.

Patrick McGarry Jr., a junior at Seattle University, and John Dogero crossed paths through student club affiliations. Dogero approached McGarry when he was a freshman to suggest he become the president for a young professionals group on campus, which Dogero served as a graduate advisor. McGarry agreed, and over the course of his sophomore year, he came to view Dogero as a mentor. That’s why when Dogero encouraged him to apply for a semester with TFAS, McGarry jumped at the opportunity. The experience did not disappoint.

From his internship to his solitary runs on the National Mall, from attending a dinner with the vice president of the United States to throwing a 230th birthday party for the U.S. Constitution with his TFAS classmate Cantalini, McGarry gathered memories that he knows he will treasure forever. His favorite part of his TFAS experience, however, was the group of people he would come to know.

McGarry and Samples with award
Patrick McGarry accepts the TFAS Award for Academic Excellence in Public Policy from Professor John Samples at the 2017 Capital Semester Fall Closing Ceremony.

“Everyone in the program, from fellow students to TFAS staff to TFAS alumni had a positive impact on my time in D.C.,” McGarry said. “I strengthened a friendship with Jon and Maggie, who are now two of my closest friends…. What excites me the most is that TFAS has 17,000 alumni around the world, and I have only met the tip of the iceberg.”

McGarry looks toward returning to Washington, D.C. “as fast as possible,” potentially as an intern before he graduates, or as a young professional in the public policy field. In the meantime, he has set a personal goal to pay John Dogero’s favor forward and inspire another Seattle University student to begin a TFAS journey.

“It was truly life-changing for me,” he said. “I want to share it with as many people as possible.”

I’m honored to be part of the TFAS alumni group. I’ll wear it as a badge of honor that I’m part of it.”

– Jon Cantalini (CSF 17)

Jon Cantalini is a senior at Seattle University, double-majoring in humanities for leadership and political science, which helps him pursue his interest in law and U.S. politics. He and Dogero also encountered each other through their joint involvement in conservative clubs on campus and Dogero reached out, hoping to mobilize this young leader.

Cantalini represents the 2017 Capital Semester Fall class as their speaker at the Closing Ceremony.
Jon Cantalini represents the 2017 Capital Semester Fall class as their speaker at the Closing Ceremony Dec. 7, 2017.

“He showed me there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cantalini said, “because Seattle can feel like a bubble sometimes. TFAS turned out to be the most incredible experience. It was life-changing.” He said what drew him the most, when Dogero introduced him to the program, was the internship aspect. A chance to get out of Seattle for a time and begin building his career in the hub of politics was attractive.

“I explained how my TFAS education, and the TFAS network, were incredibly valuable to me in starting my career,” Dogero said. “I assured [Cantalini and the other students] that the education would be top-notch and would likely offer a dramatically different viewpoint than what they would receive at Seattle University, allowing them to receive a more well-rounded education.”

Cantalini is graduating this June and is already using his TFAS network to seek out opportunities in campaigns or lobbying – where he can serve as a bridge between local and national businesses and government.

“I’m honored to be part of the TFAS alumni group. I’ll wear it as a badge of honor that I’m part of it.”

Every step I take in my academic or professional life will be because of TFAS, so I can’t thank TFAS enough.”

– Maggie Roberts (LTAP-F 17)

Maggie Roberts (LTAP-F 17) addresses the crowd at the Closing Ceremony
Maggie Roberts addresses the crowd at the Closing Ceremony. She was selected as the student graduation speaker representing LTAP.

Maggie Roberts, a junior English literature and philosophy double major, similarly met John Dogero through a student organization at Seattle University. Roberts, in fact, founded the Seattle University Conservative Union, the first political club of its kind on the campus, which grew to 85 members in its first 18 months. Dogero thought she, like the other two, had a great grasp of economics and public policy and would be an excellent candidate for a TFAS education.

Roberts is a driven person and is very interested in politics, which she describes as unusual in her home state of Oregon – an area of the country she feels is much more laid-back and less political. Spending a semester in Washington, D.C. and participating in the TFAS program, she discovered other people her own age who showed a similar drive to make a difference in the world through policy, which was a source of immense inspiration for her.

“I couldn’t wait to get up at six every morning and go to my internship!” Roberts said. “I loved being in a city where you’re not watching the news, you’re in the news. TFAS was an outlet to grow personally and professionally; anyone would benefit from it.”

Making the sign of the Seattle University Redhawk.
Patrick McGarry and Jon Cantalini show their school pride at the Capitol Dome, making the sign of the Seattle University Redhawk.

In the future, Roberts also hopes to come back to D.C. – for a second internship to start with, then again to work before or after law school. She plans to pursue her career dreams of becoming an assistant district attorney, then working her way up to federal prosecutor and eventually becoming a judge.

“Every step I take in my academic or professional life,” Roberts concluded, “will be because of TFAS, so I can’t thank TFAS enough. I can never repay that debt.”

Each of the three are also grateful to Dogero for introducing them to TFAS and having faith in their ability to seize the opportunities TFAS would present to them. As for Dogero himself, he is continuing on his TFAS journey, advising students on the value of TFAS programs and leveraging his network to advance in his career, as he nears the finish line of his MBA program. He and his wife also just welcomed their first child in July, whom they plan to send off on his own TFAS journey starting in 2036!

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