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Welcoming New TFAS Students to America’s Capital City


Songtao Duan ’18 and Lei Wang of China (left) and Dávid Kosztrihán of Hungary (right) meet with TFAS president Roger Ream ’76 at the fall semester welcome ceremony.

Fourteen bright young leaders from around the world are ready to take on an exciting semester in Washington thanks to a warm welcome and practical advice from alumni and TFAS leadership.

TFAS alumnus Joel Troutman ’13, a domestic policy coordinator at The White House, shared an important message of “leadership and hard work” as the welcome ceremony keynote speaker, citing stories of great leaders and examples from along his TFAS Journey.

“I believe that this semester can and will be a turning point for all of you. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my TFAS experience.” – Joel Troutman ’13

“I think that you all are making one of the best decisions of your life by being here,” Troutman said. “I believe that this semester can and will be a turning point for all of you. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my TFAS experience.”

TFAS alumnus Joel Troutman ’13 shares practical advice as keynote speaker for the fall welcome ceremony.

This fall, students are participating in the TFAS Capital Semester on Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) offered in partnership with the Ronald Reagan Institute. For 15 weeks, these passionate young leaders will study politics, economics and leadership during an intensive and immersive semester of classroom learning and special events featuring prominent public leaders, TFAS alumni and distinguished faculty.

Sharing that “you only get out what you put in,” Troutman offered the students guidance and useful tips for making the most of their TFAS semester, pointing each lesson back to hard work.

New TFAS roommates Demitra Nikas, Nia Skinner-Miller, Sofia Kamali and Kaavya Sundar mingle outside TFAS Headquarters following the welcome ceremony.

“Don’t be a passive intern who is only here for the resume line.” Troutman said. “Work hard at all you do – even at the little things.”

As a fitting introduction to their coursework on economics and presidential leadership, Troutman explained that key character traits – including hard work and determination – are what can elevate a successful intern above their peers.

He quoted President John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the moon” address at Rice University, explaining that America’s ambition and determination to succeed come from taking on challenges, rather than shying away from them.

“Choose to make the most of your semester, not because it is easy, but because it is hard work. Put in the effort and you’ll come out a winner.”

TFAS alumni Kevin Sun ’16 (left) and Sarah Markely ’16 (right) welcome the fall class at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for a tour of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol

“Choose to make the most of your semester, not because it is easy, but because it is hard work,” Troutman said. “Put in the effort and you’ll come out a winner.”

Building on Troutman’s charge for leadership and hard work, TFAS president Roger Ream ’76 also addressed the class and introduced the students to TFAS’s unique history and mission.

“We do this program because we want to develop young people to become honorable leaders for the future,” Ream said. “We want to equip you to deal with the challenges that our world will face in the years to come.”

Sharing the TFAS founders’ goals for the organization 52 years ago, Ream noted that another necessary component to honorable leadership is a “renewal of trust in the free institutions of our country.”

TFAS alumni Kylee Zempel ’17, John Foulkes ’17 and Ally Hibben ’18 share networking and job searching advice with the class during a “Young Alumni Panel.”

“The challenges during the time of TFAS’s founding are not that different from the challenges of polarization in our society that we see today,” Ream said. “We hope this program will create a renewal of trust among each other as it creates dialogues and discussions on new ideas and differing opinions and also among the larger communities you’ll interact with in D.C. and in the future.”

The students have already put to practice these words of wisdom as they dove into an exciting semester last week. They toured the National Mall, sat on the House floor in the U.S. Capitol, began economics coursework with TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley, attended an alumni networking panel and started their internships with top D.C. institutions, news outlets and nonprofits.

To stay up to date with the students in Washington this semester, follow @TFASorg on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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