When Charisma Hunter ’18, ’19 was finishing up her final year at Virginia Tech, the first-generation college graduate was unsure of what she would do next. Would she attend law school? Would she pursue a career in politics? As she considered her options, she received her acceptance email from The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), offering her a full scholarship to participate in the summer 2019 TFAS Leadership Scholars Program in Washington, D.C. It was then that Hunter made the decision to jump-start her career with an internship in the nation’s capital.
The TFAS Leadership Scholars Program provides the best and brightest students from around the country with the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive academic internship, including access to exclusive networking events, guided tours, guest lectures and more. Students are awarded full tuition and housing scholarships to live and work in the heart of Washington, D.C.
I am thankful that the Leadership Scholars Program paved the way for just the beginning of my legal career here in Washington, D.C., and I am excited to continue embracing the countless opportunities that are given to me.” – Charisma Hunter ’18, ’19
As a participant of the 2018 TFAS Prague program, Hunter was already aware of the impactful resources that TFAS offers its students when she made the decision to participate in the 2019 Leadership Scholars Program. After graduating in just three years from Virginia Tech, the honors student secured an internship with the United States Fashion Industry, where she reported news regarding trade policy and its impact on textiles and apparel. Hunter shared that her internship combined with her coursework at George Mason University provided her with the necessary tools to establish herself as a young professional.
“I am a firm believer that experience truly matters; the countless positive encounters that I had last summer are invaluable,” Hunter said. “Reading textbooks, looking at powerpoint slides, and listening to lectures can offer so much, but it is when you encounter and fully undergo such experiences that it all truly begins to set in and occur to you.”
Hunter has always been determined to pursue all educational and professional opportunities, despite potential obstacles. She added that both financial and geographic barriers would not limit her capabilities, but rather encourage her to work harder to achieve her goals.
“I am from Wise County, Virginia, which is nestled in the most Southwestern area of the state,” Hunter explained. “Given that it is isolated, opportunities are scarce. However, whether it was monetary reasons or deprivation of opportunities, I never wanted any barriers or restrictions to interfere with my ability to work hard and become successful.”
Hunter also shared that the experience she gained by spending an additional summer with TFAS has not only prepared her for her current role as a legal assistant for a top-rated D.C. law firm, but has also inspired her to make an impact in her community.
“You begin to realize that you can truly accomplish everything that you dreamed of as a child, and that you can make a substantial difference,” Hunter said. “I am thankful that the Leadership Scholars Program paved the way for just the beginning of my legal career here in Washington, D.C., and I am excited to continue embracing the countless opportunities that are given to me.”
TFAS D.C. Summer Programs bring together top students from around the world for an eight-week academic internship experience in the nation’s capital. Applicants can choose from a variety of program tracks based on their areas of interest and experience. Upon completion of the program, students join a global network of more than 42,000 TFAS alumni, providing them with access to mentorships, networking events and a plethora of professional resources.
Hunter, who plans to attend law school this fall, believes that her TFAS summer internship in D.C. has paved the way for a successful future.
“I thank this reputable and distinguished organization for equipping me to be able to do what I love, and go beyond what was ever expected of a young, first-generation college graduate, from Southwest Virginia.”