For more than 50 years, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) has provided transformational academic programs for young adults to learn the values essential to a free society.
TFAS has remained committed to providing academic courses, hands-on internships, guest lectures and the opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital to undergraduate students. For many alumni, the experience was so profound they encouraged their children to attend a TFAS summer program years later.
Tony Mecia ’92, ’93 was a sophomore at Duke University when he was accepted to a TFAS D.C. Academic Internship Program in the summer of 1992. After a successful summer in Washington, Tony was hooked. He returned to TFAS as a student in 1993 for the first TFAS International program in Prague. Upon graduating from college, Tony joined TFAS as a full-time staff member for a year before getting his master’s degree in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I have a lot of fond memories of my summer in Washington – getting to meet people from all over the country, hearing from members of Congress on the floor of the House, attending a taping of ‘The McLaughlin Group,’ excellent and thought-provoking speakers including Walter Williams and having an audience with Clarence Thomas,” he said. “I remember there being so much energy in D.C. that summer, and it was eye-opening to be a part of that.”
Tony knows TFAS prepared him for his future by exposing him to new ideas and helping him form lifelong connections. He has been amazed by the number of people he’s encountered over the years who are familiar with TFAS because they have attended one of the several programs offered.
I remember there being so much energy in D.C. that summer, and it was eye-opening to be a part of that.” – Tony Mecia ’92, ’93
“It’s like an instant bond you have with others, an acknowledgment of a shared experience,” he said.
Along with making lifelong friendships, Tony remembers one professor in particular that influenced his experience at TFAS.
“I know I’m not alone when I say that Dr. George Viksnins was a memorable professor,” he shared. “He had a real way of reaching students, and it was such a joy to study economics with him.”
Considering his life-changing experience at TFAS, it’s unsurprising that Tony wanted his child to have the same opportunity. His daughter Emily Mecia ’21 is a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The well-rounded offerings of academics, professional development, internship placement, and the chance to live in D.C. inspired the business administration student to apply to TFAS’s Business + Government Relations program track. She also knew how meaningful an opportunity it was for her dad and wanted to share the same experiences he did.
“My dad made many lifelong connections through TFAS and is still good friends with his coworkers and friends that he made that summer,” Emily said. “He described TFAS as a life-changing experience and he absolutely loved living in D.C. His positive experience with TFAS definitely furthered my interest in applying for the program.”
When asked about her favorite part of the TFAS program, Emily’s internship experience and the people she met topped her list. As an intern with MetLife’s government relations team, she gained valuable experience working on projects, participating in team meetings, and attending meetings with contractors and members of Congress.
I am thankful for all of the people I met through TFAS. Not only did I become close with the MetLife team, but I also formed great connections with my peers, roommates, teachers and guest speakers. The relationships I made through TFAS will last a lifetime.” – Emily Mecia ’21
“I am thankful for all of the people I met through TFAS,” she said. “Not only did I become close with the MetLife team, but I also formed great connections with my peers, roommates, teachers and guest speakers. The relationships I made through TFAS will last a lifetime.”
Both Tony and Emily Mecia attribute personal and professional growth to their time at TFAS. Though their experiences took place nearly three decades apart, they now share a distinct bond as TFAS alumni.
“It is my understanding that she is getting that same experience I had almost 30 years ago,” Tony said. “The people and the faces and the circumstances might be a little different, but the TFAS idea of getting the full experience of Washington and being exposed to new ideas and new people is the same.”
This story is part of a series of interviews with students and their parents who have completed a TFAS D.C. Summer Program. Stay tuned for more featured family alumni in the coming weeks.