The TFAS 47th Anniversary Annual Conference, “Freedom and the Future,” brought together supporters, alumni and students for a weekend of educational and celebratory events.
The weekend started on Friday, June 20, with the 19th Annual Institute on Political Journalism Awards at the National Press Club. Winners included reporting teams from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Bloomberg News, with collegiate winners from the GW Hatchet and The Daily Pennsylvanian. Click here to read a detailed report on the awards ceremony and 2014 recipients.
In the afternoon, supporters interacted with a panel of TFAS alumni who work on Capitol Hill and in the political field. Panelists included Jamie Corley ’06, Jeremy Harrell ’07, Bryan Wood ’06 and Jeff Zubricki ’05. Professors Rob Raffety and Will Ruger showed attendees a 15-minute sample of the upper-level economics and government classes they teach to TFAS students.
“I think America is the last great hope for liberty, as some politicians like Ronald Reagan would say,” Ruger told supporters. “It’s important to see a free society here at home, to fight for it, especially because we are an exemplar for the world, a city on the hill … Hopefully we can plant the seeds of freedom and democracy in other places through education, but we also have to fight for freedom here.”
Friday evening featured a celebratory awards dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Exceptional students from current TFAS programs joined supporters, staff and alumni for the presentation of the awards. Winners included Richard Boyd for Outstanding Professor, Betsy Bryant ’05 for the Kevin Burket Alumni Service Award and Michelle Easton ’73 for the Alumni Achievement Award.
TFAS student and testimonial speaker Melanie Benit ’14 said if she had a hashtag for her experience so far in Washington, D.C., it would be #thankyou.
“A lot of people are cynical of the government, the country and the world. Because of TFAS supporters, there are students who won’t see the world that way and strive to make things better. Because of supporters the cynicism is disintegrating everyday,” Benit said. “The more students learn about free market societies and become leaders, the better off the U.S. will be.”
Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke provided entertaining comments to close out the evening. His humorous look at how government works (or doesn’t work) was rewarded with big laughs and a standing ovation from the crowd.
On Saturday, June 21, attendees had the chance to further interact and enjoy their time in D.C. at the alumni and student BBQ and the TFAS Alumni Ball, held at the Maison Biltmore. The Ball included a silent auction with items donated by alumni and charitable local vendors. Thanks to generous bids and gifts from the TFAS network, the organization added more than $2,000 to the student scholarship fund.