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Students Reflect on a Transformative TFAS Summer in the Nation’s Capital


“Transformative. Life-Changing. Unparalleled. The Fullest Eight Weeks of Your Life.” What is it truly like to spend eight weeks as a TFAS student in the nation’s capital? Five young leaders representing our D.C. Summer Program tracks tried to put the experience into words during our Closing Ceremony on Aug. 1 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Each student focused on one element of the TFAS summer motto “LIVE, LEARN, INTERN” to provide firsthand testimony of how eight weeks with TFAS made a lasting impact.



Angela McCallum ’19 spent her TFAS summer interning with Citizens Against Government Waste.

For Clemson University student Angela McCallum ’19, a summer lived with TFAS gave her the confidence and support to realize her true potential and never sell herself short. “I truly came here thinking that D.C. was just another step in my career path, and TFAS was just another internship program. However, this program gave me the courage to go up and shake the hand of someone I respect, rather than standing in the back of the room at guest lectures, networking events or the TFAS Annual Conference,” she said. “Attending every extra event and having the courage to simply introduce myself connected me to many people in the TFAS family, who are so willing to help me start a career in D.C. after I graduate in December.” Watch McCallum’s full remarks.


Jesse Anderson ’19 (far left) celebrates with her cohort of TFAS Tisdale Fellows. Anderson was one of four students selected for the special TFAS scholarship.

Inside TFAS classrooms, student Jesse Anderson ’19 of the University of Maryland said her TFAS professors encouraged thoughtful discussions and sparked nuanced, sometimes heated, but always respectful debates. “You learn by listening. The fruit borne by conversations with others is not always sweet, as disagreements can be hard to digest. But, we should listen to others not because we want to disagree, but because we want to see what lies behind the words themselves,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by people who can analyze the fabric of our society, who understand the inner-workings of our political system, and who recognize the importance of speaking with those who disagree with you.” Watch Anderson’s full remarks.

Kennedy Parkins ’19 gives remarks about her TFAS summer during the 2019 closing ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy Parkins ’19 of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said one of the many great learning opportunities at TFAS was hearing the stories of TFAS alumni, speakers and fellow students. “I have learned an immense amount from the individuals that are in this room,” she said. “I am humbled and honored to be in the same room as this generation’s next set of working professionals. I admire your work ethic, your diligence and your grit. I look forward to reconnecting and working with you all in the future.”

Parkins’ words were felt throughout the auditorium as the class of 2019 cheered at the mention of their fellow classmates’ accomplishments and made heartfelt promises to stay in touch. Watch Parkins’ full remarks.


Kyle Hooten ’19 (far left) enjoys views of the National Mall, his backyard during his TFAS summer.

As an intern with the Daily Caller News Foundation, Kyle Hooten ’19 of St. Olaf College said TFAS gave him the opportunity to cover national and breaking news. “When Russia announced they’re perfecting a new missile technology, I got to speak with the Pentagon and representatives from the Department of Defense about what this means for national security. When scandals broke regarding the upcoming 2020 election, commentary from experts and strategists was only a phone call away,” he said. Watch Hooten’s full remarks.

Kansas native Natalie Friend ’19 of the University of Arkansas arrived in D.C. with dreams of becoming a diplomat. Through TFAS briefings, networking events and her internship with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Friend gained valuable exposure to the field she aspires to one day join. Topping off her favorite moments was a visit to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s office, thanks to an invite from her TFAS mentor.

Natalie Friend ’19 (second from right) visits the State Department during a TFAS briefing.

“Here I was, Dorothy from Kansas, standing in the middle of Mahogany Row, in rooms where treaties are signed, bilateral negotiations are held, and where foreign dignitaries visit for tea. That was my moment from the summer, and perhaps one of the best moments I’ll have in a long time,” she said. Watch Friend’s full remarks.

The D.C. Summer Programs students join a global network of more than 42,000 TFAS alumni. The Closing Ceremony was not an end, but a point on the TFAS Journey with a lifetime of opportunities for continued learning and professional development. We look forward to continuing to cultivate and work with these young leaders as they graduate from students to young professionals and make a positive impact on the world.

You can watch a full video of the Closing Ceremony below.


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