The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) recently welcomed a new cohort of bright students to Washington, D.C., for the Capital Semester Spring program. TFAS selected this ambitious and studious group of college students to spend their semester learning about international affairs, public policy, economic freedom, individual liberty and personal responsibility.
TFAS programs prepare the next generation to become courageous leaders who stand up for democracy and freedom. This semester’s class of 12 young leaders includes ten students from the United States and two from Australia, each of whom is ready to accept the challenge to become a courageous leader and live, learn, intern and connect in the nation’s capital.
… You’re about to embark on a journey that, if you play your cards right, will enhance your professional skills, your leadership skills, and will hopefully transform you and your classmates for the better.” – Joe Starrs, Senior Director of Collegiate Programs
The students moved into their shared apartments on Capitol Hill on Jan. 19 and officially began the semester on Jan. 20 with a welcome ceremony and orientation at TFAS headquarters. They took the opportunity to get to know each other and connect with the TFAS Collegiate Programs team.
At the welcome ceremony, TFAS Senior Director of Collegiate Programs Joe Starrs welcomed the students to the start of an exciting semester. He acknowledged the prior leadership experience of each student, as well as their potential to grow, learn and become even more effective leaders over the course of the program.
“We’re very excited for you to be here,” he said. “You’re about to embark on a journey that, if you play your cards right, will enhance your professional skills, your leadership skills, and will hopefully transform you and your classmates for the better.”
TFAS president Roger Ream ’76 also provided opening remarks and shared words of wisdom with the cohort. He shared how after more than 50 years of programming, TFAS has curated an exceptional and unique experience that truly enhances the personal and professional development of young leaders. Ream encouraged the students to lean on each other and to always remember the value of civil discourse.
The group also heard from a special guest speaker, alumna Emma Connell ’18. As a TFAS student in 2018, Connell participated in the International Affairs program track and interned at the Middle East Media Research Institute. Later she interned in the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, where she works full time today. Now the intern coordinator for Sen. Grassley’s office, she has hosted several TFAS interns over the years. She motivated the class by sharing that interns are vital to the behind the scenes processes of many D.C. offices and organizations. Connell also shared that the characteristics she values the most in her interns are a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.
“As interns, you’ll get to dig in and get to know everyone in your office,” she said. “Make the most of your time here. Make connections. This city is a wonderful place to be. You’re so lucky to be a part of TFAS, and I’m sure it will be a great semester.”
Make the most of your time here. Make connections. This city is a wonderful place to be. You’re so lucky to be a part of TFAS, and I’m sure it will be a great semester.” – Emma Connell ’18
Classes began on Jan. 21 with TFAS’s top-notch faculty. TFAS Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Anne Bradley is teaching international economic policy this semester, while Dr. Jonathan Askonas leads a U.S. foreign policy course. The students are also learning from Karen Czarnecki ’88 and Dr. Richard Benedetto in a series of internship seminars. TFAS faculty equip students with the skills and knowledge to make rational decisions and engage civilly in intellectual conversations – tools essential to becoming courageous leaders.
Students began their internships on Jan. 24 in government offices, lobbying firms, communications organizations and nonprofits. TFAS Academic Internship Programs provide new learning experiences and skills that students can take with them long after their internship ends.
Current Capital Semester student Eden Latham ’22 says she is looking forward to the semester and all of the opportunities that TFAS offers.
“I’m extremely excited to delve into D.C. and to expand my knowledge throughout the semester,” she said. “I can’t wait to start classes and my internship, and I’m excited to start making connections!”
I’m extremely excited to delve into D.C. and to expand my knowledge throughout the semester. I can’t wait to start classes and my internship, and I’m excited to start making connections!” – Eden Latham ’22
Though busy with classes and internships throughout the semester, the students will also participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including mentorship opportunities, professional development seminars, alumni networking nights, civil discourse practice, D.C. excursions, embassy tours and more.
A recent addition to the TFAS team, Capital Semester Program Coordinator Abby McGovern is excited to welcome her first class of students to Washington. She says the group has already proven eager to jump right into their internships and learn from the people around them. During the welcome ceremony, McGovern encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities and networks offered to them this semester, to ask tough questions, to embrace challenges that arise and to excel in their internships.
“Your experience is what you make it,” she reminded them.
Learn more about the 2022 Spring Capital Semester cohort below.
Spring 2022 Capital Semester Class
Education: University of Queensland
Internship: Navajo Nation
Ella Buetner is a fourth-year law student at the University of Queensland who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations. She is completing a diploma of languages in German and is primarily interested in researching international law, U.S.-China relations, human rights law, and geopolitics in the Pacific. Ella has participated in several extracurricular activities, including the University of Queensland Law Society. She has a passion for public speaking and has presented a pitch on climate change policy in public policy and economics competitions. She has long had an interest in the United States, from its domestic politics to its influence on global institutions. Ella has had several internships throughout her college experience, most recently at the U.S. Embassy in Australia. She is particularly passionate about women’s rights and has completed the LeadHers social enterprise program and has served as the women’s convener on the executive board of a national political organization.
Education: Carthage College
Major: Political Science
Internship: Office of Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin
Nicole Biba just completed her sophomore year at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She plays on the women’s basketball team at her college and participates in several extracurricular activities, including the Carthage Chorale, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society for First-Year Academic Success, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and student government. Furthermore, she is involved in the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Nicole has previous internship experience at Sedgwick and has volunteered with the youth group at her church for many years.
Education: Flinders University
Major: International Relations
Internship: Office of Representative Pete Stauber of Minnesota
Amari Costello just completed her second year at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, where she studies international relations. She has been involved extensively in ActionAid Australia, a nonpartisan group that promotes equality and social justice. Amari participates in CanTeen, a group that supports young people affected by cancer, where she has spent several years in different leadership positions within the South Australian team. She wants to continue her involvement in politics and help educate others. Although this is the first time Amari will be overseas, she has a passion for traveling and is excited to gain a truer understanding of the American political system and way of life.
Education: University of Illinois Springfield
Major: Political Science
Internship: American Short Line and Railroad Association
Ava Donath currently studies political science at the University of Illinois Springfield. Last fall, she earned an associate’s degree in science from Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois. During her time at Richland, she had the opportunity to intern for the Office of U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, where she worked in the Springfield office. Ava has interned for more than five additional political campaigns. She has been an assistant teacher to kindergartners for the past six months, but hopes to move into the legal world in the future. She wants to become a certified paralegal and work within the federal government to implement positive change from the highest level.
Education: University of Massachusetts Boston
Major: International Relations
Internship: Health and Medicine Council
Youssra Elfaquir is a third-year international relations student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Originally from Morocco, she moved to the United States when she was 11 years old. She has exceptional communication skills and is multilingual, with fluency in the English, Arabic and French languages. Youssra enjoys writing, reading, traveling, classical music, abstract art and learning about world politics.
Education: Florida Gateway College
Major: Political Science
Internship: Office of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida
Cody Emerson is a political science major at Florida Gateway College and an agriculture business owner. Originally from North Central Florida, he has always had an interest in government and policy but firmly decided to pursue a career in the field after completing an internship at his congressional representative’s district office last summer. The experience ignited his desire for a future in public service. He is especially interested in national security and foreign policy. Throughout his academic career, Cody has been involved in several student organizations on campus, including the student government association and FFA.
Education: Wichita State University
Major: Strategic Communications
Internship: Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute
Karen Galindo is a senior at Wichita State University, where she has been involved in a multitude of student organizations, including Greek life, H.A.L.O. and several environmental groups. During her sophomore year, Karen earned the position of arts and entertainment editor for her university’s student-run newspaper, “The Sunflower.” In the spring of 2021, Karen scored an internship as the engagement and development intern at Wichita’s local NPR station. Through this experience, she organized the “Pen Pal Project,” which connected approximately 100 community members with residents of different senior homes through written letters and aimed to help seniors feel less lonely and isolated during the pandemic. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Karen hopes to work in the nonprofit sector for a few years, then pursue a master’s degree in international relations. Her primary career goal is to work for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Education: Texas A&M University
Major: Political Science
Internship: Office of Representative Pete Sessions of Texas
Colleen Goggin is a junior political science major at Texas A&M. She loves adventures and traveling, which has taken her to such countries as Ireland and Germany. One of her goals is to travel to 30 different countries before her 30th birthday. She hopes to live abroad in the future to learn more about other cultures and languages. Colleen loves traveling the U.S. as well, especially around Chicago. She spent the majority of her previous semester helping with a political campaign and traveling all around the country. She loved the adventure of each new day. In addition to school, internships and traveling, Colleen enjoys volunteering at her church.
Education: Pennsylvania State University
Major: Political Science
Internship: Advanced Energy Economy
Ever since high school, Evelyn Juanacio has taken on positions in advocacy, leadership and volunteerism that have increased her passion for these activities. This past winter break, she had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Palestine, where she worked on social injustice conflicts. At Penn State, Evelyn served on the executive board of Penn State Latino Caucus, where she advocated for the Latinx community on campus and represented the organization at the University Park Undergraduate Association assembly meetings. Along with her position with the Student Government Association, she sat on the justice and equity committee, where she worked on legislation to aid diversity and inclusion at Penn State. In the future, Evelyn hopes to go to law school and work in environmental and immigration law.
Education: Western Michigan University
Major: Global and International Studies
Eden Latham is halfway through her junior ear at Western Michigan University, where she studies global and international affairs. She spent last semester studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, at the Umbra Institute, participating in their food, sustainability and environment program. Eden loves to travel and is a member of her school’s Global Leadership Program, through which she has participated in two other study abroad programs in the Dominican Republic and Portugal. By the time she graduates, Eden will have completed no less than five study abroad experiences. She works at the Office for Sustainability as the climate change communication specialist at her university and spends her free time volunteering as a land steward on a sustainable farm owned by her school.
Education: Monmouth College
Internship: Mil Mujeres
Gabriela Peterson is an NCAA Division III athlete on the cross country and track and field teams at Monmouth College. She is passionate about environmental law, specifically increasing legal protections for animals and the regulation of harmful business practices. Gabriela conducts chemistry research concerning the bioactivity of common constitutions in bee propolis and hopes to contribute to propolis standardization in future research. Last summer, she worked full time doing chemistry research through Monmouth’s Doc Kieft Summer Research Program. Gabriela presented at the Illinois-Iowa ACS Conference and was selected to present at the American Chemical Society National Conference in March 2022. She coordinates fundraisers and activities for the Catholic St. Augustine Newman Center in Monmouth, Illinois, and enjoys improving her Spanish language skills.
Education: Florida Gulf Coast University
Major: Political Science
Internship: Office of Representative Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin
Jonathan Reuss is a political science major at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is actively involved all across campus. He tutored in statistical methods and was the vice-chair of the travel committee for the Student Government Association. Additionally, he is the chair of the social committee for the Honors Senate. Overall, Jonathan served in five leadership positions for various clubs on campus. He also plays intramural soccer, flag football and roller hockey in addition to assisting the ice hockey and women’s basketball teams. Last summer, Jonathan interned at the BIED Society with The Washington Center. His main interests include politics and sports.