In the spring semester of 2019, Ebony Tyson ’19, ’20 was on her way to class in her college’s criminal justice department when she spotted a flyer on the bulletin board promoting the Fall 2019 TFAS Capital Semester program. The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University student was fascinated by global affairs, and decided a semester-long internship in Washington, D.C. would be the perfect place to jump start her career. She applied and was accepted and later that fall, embarked on 15 weeks in the nation’s capital that would ultimately give her a broader perspective of the world and the desire to experience new cultures around the globe.
My economics course at George Mason was amazing. The way that Dr. Bradley framed economic concepts was so interesting to me, and it really inspired me to look further into international economic policy as a potential career path.” – Ebony Tyson ’19, ’20
Growing As A Leader
A native of Detroit, Tyson has always been passionate about international relations. However, it wasn’t until she took a course on international economic policy with TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley that she felt motivated to pursue a master’s degree and a career in the field.
“My economics course at George Mason was amazing,” Tyson said. “The way that Dr. Bradley framed economic concepts was so interesting to me, and it really inspired me to look further into international economic policy as a potential career path.”
Tyson’s fall semester internship with the Africa Faith and Justice Network deepened this interest by allowing her to collaborate with professionals from the State Department and White House on issues related to U.S. relations with Africa.
After just over three months in D.C., Tyson had successfully completed her internship while simultaneously taking 12 credit hours of intensive academic courses at George Mason University. Her hard work was recognized by TFAS faculty and staff at the Fall 2019 closing ceremony with the Overall Academic Award, an honor presented to the student with the top academic contributions in all TFAS courses each semester.
“When I received the academic honor award during the closing ceremony, it was one of my proudest moments,” Tyson said. “It helped me gain so much confidence in myself and it felt great to have all of my hard work and leadership recognized. This program really did show me that I can do anything I put my mind to.”
A Global Experience
Tyson’s experience in D.C. ultimately encouraged her to apply for the 2020 TFAS Santiago program that took place the following January. Held in partnership with Universidad de los Andes, the two-week long academic program offers the unique opportunity for young leaders to learn about the political and economic necessities of a free society while exploring the vibrant metropolis of Santiago, Chile.
“I’ve always wanted to visit South America and learn more about Latin American culture, but I didn’t think it would be a reality any time soon,” Tyson said. “When I got to D.C., I had access to so many different events and networking sessions through the Capital Semester program, so when the TFAS International team told us about the Santiago program, it really sparked that motivation in me to apply.”
Tyson experienced a variety of cultures from around the world through the program’s immersive economics and political philosophy courses, as well as excursions to learn more about Chile’s history and heritage. However, one of the most eye-opening experiences she had was at the Cultural Presentations Ceremony, an event where students from different parts of the world share regional traditions, including dances, garments, symbols and cuisine.
Before these programs, I was a bit close minded with my views. But once I was surrounded by people that shared different views than my own, I was able to humble myself enough to hear them out and understand where they were coming from.” – Ebony Tyson ’19, ’20
“I really enjoyed the culture presentations because we all separated into groups based on where we were from and had the opportunity to share something unique about our homes,” Tyson said. “Groups shared traditional dances or food dishes, and it was so great to experience so many different cultures in that short time.”
Gaining A Broader Perspective
Tyson’s participation in the Capital Semester and TFAS Santiago programs gave her a new perspective on the world around her. As she prepares to graduate from college in December 2020, she is starting her career with a broader outlook on global issues and a greater respect for people with different backgrounds and experiences.
“Before these programs, I was a bit close minded with my views. But once I was surrounded by people that shared different views than my own, I was able to humble myself enough to hear them out and understand where they were coming from,” Tyson said. “That helped me to grow as a person and realize that wherever you are in the world, you’ll be around a lot of people that aren’t like you and you’re going to have to learn how to get a different perspective.”