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TFAS Alumni Explore Policy Issues During “Liberty and Equality” Weekend Seminar


For TFAS alumni, “the learning never stops.” Jameson O’Connor (IEIA 17) was proud to proclaim this while participating in the first TFAS Curriculum of Liberty Seminar of 2018.

Jameson O’Connor (IEIA 17) shares his thoughts with the participants during the opening session of “Liberty and Equality”

O’Connor was one of 12 undergraduate TFAS alumni selected to participate in “Liberty and Equality,” a weekend seminar from Jan. 19-21  in Arlington, Virginia. Co-sponsored by TFAS and Liberty Fund, Inc., “Liberty and Equality” provided a continuing education opportunity for TFAS alumni to discuss the intersections of liberty and equality around important policy issues impacting society, such as elections, welfare and taxation.

As a political science and international relations double major, O’Connor said the weekend gave him a “practical application” aspect to his academic studies and helped him visualize a clear professional path with his degrees.

This experience has added to my respect for the program. TFAS wants you to stay involved in a way that will benefit you.” – Jameson O’Connor (IEIA 17)

Throughout the weekend, TFAS professor Dr. Richard Boyd of Georgetown University guided the conversations by introducing the theories of constrained and unconstrained visions, distributive justice and moral responsibility, and helped the participants draw out new ideas and form their own opinions. During the opening session, Dr. Boyd encouraged the alumni participants to “enjoy the conversation,” sharing the benefits of civil dialogue.

Professor Richard Boyd outlines the material and guides the discussion for the alumni participants.

“A civil conversation is intrinsically valuable, not only because of what comes out of it, but because of where it goes along the way,” Boyd said.

Prior to the conference, students were assigned readings on political thought by F. A. Hayek, H. B. Acton, Thomas Sowell, Adam Smith, Thomas Piketty and others.

TFAS alumna Kylee Zempel (IPJ 17) says preparing for the weekend by studying these excerpts was just as beneficial as the discussions that stemmed from them. She shared that the discussions provided her some much-needed “brain food” – something she said is missing from the traditional collegiate education.

TFAS creates and encourages an environment where you learn how to dialogue with your peers and have civil conversations.” – Kylee Zempel (IPJ 17)

With alumni representing each U.S. undergraduate program, the participants were all able to draw out and build upon examples from their TFAS coursework, bringing those vital economics lessons into the discussion.

Kylee Zempel (IPJ 17) proposes a question to the alumni participants.

TFAS alumna participant Becca Whalen (IBGA 17) echoed the notion that the most important outcome from the weekend was engaging in civil discussion, constructive conflict and challenging one another’s ideas and beliefs.

“This type of discourse is important to society as we move forward because the way that we share ideas is paramount to how we get things accomplished in society,” Whalen said. “I feel truly blessed to have had this opportunity to be with individuals who also adhere to those same principles of discussion.”

TFAS hosts multiple networking and continuing education opportunities for alumni each year to foster a life-long TFAS journey of academic and personal growth. Learn more about these alumni opportunities here.

Learn more about the participants and view photos from the weekend below.

Meet the 2018 TFAS Liberty and Equality Alumni Scholars:

Moises Balayla (IBGA 17) was born into a Jewish family in Caracas, Venezuela. He was always very active among Jewish youth groups, which is why he participated in a leadership program for a year in Israel. His majors are economics and political science, but his goal is to be a business owner. The combination of these three factors caused him to apply for the TFAS Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA). The humanities and how different societies view the individual, and how individuals view their societies, are some of the most thrilling and interesting subjects for him. His goals in life besides business are to teach, write and leave a mark on society. He has much to learn and room to grow; he’s still figuring himself out and considers that to be the beauty of life.

Lauren Dooley (ICPES 17) is a junior at Texas Christian University and is looking forward to completing her political science and economics degrees next fall. Growing up in a military family meant moving more than eleven times across the globe before attending college. Representing her country oversees taught her how lucky she is to be an American and the necessity of defending freedom both at home and abroad. That fire of patriotism continued to burn within her, shaping her undergraduate experience. She became a proponent for conservative values on her campus by helping to found a chapter of Turning Point USA. Attending CPAC in 2016 solidified her passion for activism and pushed her to work on Tom Mechler’s campaign for Texas GOP Chairman. Last summer, Lauren was fortunate to participate in the TFAS Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) and intern at Drucker Lawhon, a fundraising firm.


John Foulkes (IEIA 2017) is a senior at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is double majoring in peace, war and defense studies, with a focus on international security and intelligence and in South Asian studies. John is an alumnus of the TFAS Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA), where he interned with both the Free Russia Foundation and at the Jamestown Foundation. He considers his time with TFAS as one of the great educational experiences of his life.




Alexandra King (IPJ 17) is a junior at the University of Tennessee where she is studying political science. Her extracurricular activities on campus include reporting for student news organizations like the Daily Beacon and TorchLight and being a member of Delta Gamma sorority. Because of her passion for international affairs, she is also a member of the UT’s Model United Nations traveling team and has competed against the top schools in the nation. She received the Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism as a student in the 2017 TFAS Institute on Political Journalism and is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. She hopes to one day be a reporter for Fox News.


Kathryn Manning (IPVS 17) is a senior at Gardner-Webb University where she studies communication and Spanish. In 2017, she attended the TFAS Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service where she interned with ThriveDC, an organization that seeks to works to prevent and end homelessness in Washington, D.C. She is vice president of her university’s Lambda Pi Eta chapter, the National Communication Association’s official honor society, and is a member of various other honors societies. She enjoys interning with her university’s social media manager, as well as volunteering at local elementary and middle schools. She also enjoys traveling and hopes to see as much of the world as possible.


Jameson O’Connor (IEIA 17) is a senior at William Jewell College, double-majoring in political science and international relations with a minor in classical humanities with a Latin emphasis. While at Jewell, Jameson has served as president of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity; chairman of the College Republicans; vice president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honors society; played four seasons on the Jewell Football team and is a fellow in Jewell’s leadership program. He worked for Sen. Jerry Moran’s reelection campaign in 2016 and interned at the Aviation Week Intelligence Network while participating in the TFAS Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA) last summer. His interests in international relations and U.S. national security have led him to pursue admission to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School, which he hopes to attend after graduating from Jewell in May.


Pascal Rathle (LTAP 17) is a senior at Jacksonville University majoring in communication with a concentration in public speaking and minors in biology and English. During his first two years, he competed collegiately at the division one level in soccer and was president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. At 19 years old, he travelled to Germany and received a contract with FC Augsburg team of the Bundesliga league. At 21, he travelled to Israel as a participant in the “Caravan for Democracy.” Pascal was a participant in the 2017 Leadership and the American Presidency, a program co-sponsored by TFAS and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute. During his TFAS summer, he completed three internships at the Embassy of the Gabonese Republic, the Office of Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and the International Energy Partnership. He currently works as a policy assistant for the policy director for the City of Jacksonville, Florida in the Office of the Mayor. Furthermore, he is a presidential student ambassador, director of public affairs for the Student Government Association, a member of the Presidential Leadership Advisory Committee, a staff writer for the school paper and vice president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Upon commencement, he aspires to attend a premier law school, travel globally, build his project “Poverty for Peace” and continue co-authoring a book.


Stephen Ridley (ICPES 17) is a senior international affairs major at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Stephen is interested in law, public policy, economics and foreign affairs. Stephen is an Eagle Scout, a brother of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and has interned with Moore Taylor Law Firm in Columbia, South Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. As a student in the 2017 TFAS Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES), Stephen interned with the Law and Economics Center at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School. Stephen aspires to attend law school after earning his undergraduate degree.


Peyton Tatonetti (IEIA 17) is a senior at Case Western Reserve University where she majors in business management and Spanish with a focus on international business. On campus, she is the co-programming director and public relations chair for Winterfest, an organization that hosts an annual holiday concert for charity and community growth. She is also treasurer and president for Case Kismat Indian Fusion Dance team, a national competing dance troupe that focuses on promoting cultural awareness, instilling social issues and supporting various charities. Peyton has completed two internships: her first with Telos, an organizational consulting firm, and her second in the Department of Commerce with the International Trade Administration. She also spent a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she focused on achieving Spanish fluency. There, her passion for language, culture and making connections sky-rocketed, and she is working toward becoming fluent in Spanish and Italian. After attaining a few years of work experience, Peyton is planning to pursue her MBA.


Todd Truesdale (CSF 16) is a proud South Carolinian currently pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in international politics and military affairs and a minor in intelligence and homeland security from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. A member of the Honors Program, he was elected president of the Honors Program Student Advisory Council and has been published in the Gold Star Journal, The Citadel’s academic journal. Following a passion for government, he has interned in the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General, the Office of United States Senator Lindsey Graham and a strategic consulting firm, and has directed a political campaign for state senate. Inspired by his focus in international politics, he participated in a service learning study abroad in Naples, Italy to assist individuals applying for political asylum. He has also worked with the Charleston Council for International Visitors and served as The Citadel’s delegate to the 8th University Scholars Leadership Symposium, sponsored by the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand. Additionally, he has conducted open-source intelligence research for the Joint Chief of Staff’s Directorate of Intelligence. Todd played varsity football for one season and sings tenor one for The Citadel Cadet Chorale. Upon graduating from The Citadel in spring 2018, he plans to pursue a master’s degree abroad before returning to pursue a juris doctor. After completing his post-graduate education, Todd plans to start a career in government in a national security-related field.


Becca Whalen (IBGA 17) is a senior at Lebanon Valley College majoring in politics and minoring in business administration and law & society. She has served on the LVC Board of Trustees for two years, as Student Government class president for four years. She is also the treasurer for her chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha. Rebecca’s internship experiences demonstrate her political communication skills, as she has interned with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. As a student in the 2017 TFAS Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA), Rebecca interned with the lobbying branch of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Rebecca has plans for a career in state government. In her free time, you can find her enjoying a book or spending time with her two younger sisters, Olivia and Jenna.


Kylee Zempel (IPJ 17) is a senior at Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication arts and an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Her primary career goal is to become a TV news anchor and political commentator. Last spring, she interned for the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, the Honorable Rebecca Kleefisch. Kylee is an alumna of the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism. In conjunction with TFAS, Kylee interned with Radio America and received an award for “Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.” She takes a special interest in economic and social issues and enjoys writing about them for her website, kyleezempel.com. When she is not in class, Kylee enjoys reading, writing for her school’s news website, podcasting, running, singing in her school choir, drinking good coffee and acting in university productions. Most recently, she played the lead role of Beatrice in her university’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Kylee hopes to return to Washington, D.C. after graduation.


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