On May 1, 2015, TFAS welcomed fourteen bright young leaders into the TFAS alumni network at the Capital Semester Graduation Ceremony and Reception held at TFAS Headquarters. Students and their families, internship sponsors, mentors, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the completion of the 15-week Capital Semester program in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony included inspiring advice from TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76), Professor Anne Bradley, student speaker Mayara Garay Kostianovsky (CSS 15) and keynote speaker Jim Forbes, director of communications for Congressman Mike Bost of Illinois.
TFAS President Roger Ream welcomed all those attending the ceremony and spoke about the importance of TFAS programs. “The founders of The Fund for American Studies and its leaders today really feel we have an obligation to help prepare the next generation for leadership and that’s why we do these programs … We have a lot of confidence in you as you leave here today as TFAS alumni to make a difference in the world around you.” The graduates join a vast alumni network of over 14,500 alumni around the globe.
Dr. Anne Bradley, TFAS faculty member and professor of the economics course, encouraged students to “Be all that you can be and nothing else. It starts with real humility about who each of us is and what we can do. Find a way to use your talents to serve others. Only you can decide what you are supposed to do and what you are good at. Use the people who care about you, which includes the TFAS family, to do that.”
Student graduation speaker Mayara Garay Kostianovsky (CSS 15) spoke about her experience in Washington, D.C. and the Capital Semester program. She said that the program allowed her to grow both professionally and personally, especially because of the “amazing people” she encountered during the semester. She thoroughly enjoyed attending events, hearing from speakers, visiting D.C. landmarks and interning full time at kglobal, where she sharpened her journalism skills. She especially enjoyed the classes, thanks mostly to her professors.
“I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this program would not be the same without our professors,” said Kostianovsky. “Professors Samples, Bradley, Benedetto and Czarnecki, if you ever think about stopping teaching, don’t. We need more people like you – passionate advocates of life to fill us with inspiration to be better everyday. We need more people who love what they do to understand that not everything in this scary world is lost and it is ok to follow our hearts once in a while.”
Kostianovsky closed with encouraging remarks to her peers, whom she referred to as her “brothers and sisters.” “I just want to encourage you all to start that goal, whatever it is, start it right now. Right where you are… Just start and don’t stop,” she said.
In his keynote address, Jim Forbes, director of communications for Congressman Mike Bost of Illinois, spoke about the importance of interpersonal communication. “We’ve lost the ability to interact in an interpersonal relationship,” he said – referring to the use, or overuse, of technology and new communications devices by the younger generation.
He encouraged the graduates to build interpersonal relationships and not be afraid to start a conversation. He told the graduates of four ways to “get back to the basics” of interpersonal communication and set themselves apart:
- First, get to know somebody by asking questions first, not talking about yourself.
- Second, challenge yourself to learn two new things about a person, because every person has a story.
- Third, before an interview of any kind, learn as much about the interviewer and the company as you can and find a connection.
- Lastly, informational interviews are essential and powerful.
Forbes closed with giving examples of informational interviews that he has given, both good and bad, and how to relate to whomever you are speaking with.
Throughout the spring, Capital Semester students took economic and public policy courses accredited by George Mason University, all while interning full time in organizations across Washington. Students also took advantage of attending many events, both social and professional, that were arranged by TFAS staff to give students an opportunity to network and expand their professional network.
Students also visited several historical sites in Washington, D.C., attended private briefings and heard from high profile speakers, including some TFAS alumni.
Congratulations to the following students for receiving achievement awards during the graduation ceremony:
- Academic Excellence in Economics, Justin Sanders (CSS 15)
- Academic Excellence in Constitutional Studies, Nathan Sutterfield (CSS 15)
- Academic Excellence in Public Policy Internship Seminar, Harry Riegel (CSS 15)
- Academic Excellence in Journalism Internship Seminar, Madison Bryant (CSS 15)
- Director’s Award for Outstanding Participation, Kaitlin Leddy (CSS 15)
For more information on Capital Semester, visit www.DCinternships.org/CS.