PA Testimonial – Holly (IEIA)

Written by Holly Focareto – Program Advisor, Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA)

Growing up in a military family, I found a passion for national defense that led me to my degree, where I grew my passion and gained a love for international affairs. After spending one summer studying abroad in Ireland and Morocco, I knew I wanted to spend a summer interning. I always wanted to visit Washington, DC and when I found about the incredible opportunities TFAS offered to intern in DC I was so excited. The program is amazing because of all the opportunities and experiences they offer.

Through TFAS and the Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA), I interned at the National Defense University, The Dwight D. Eisenhower School, where I developed friendships and learned life lessons from an incredible supervisor. I conducted in-depth research and helped prep classes for the upcoming classes that included Air Force colonels, CIA agents, and foreign military leaders. It was especially awarding for me to see materials I worked hard on over the summer to be incorporated into the incredible classes. My fellow interns (many from IEIA) became a small family and went on many adventures together around Fort McNair and DC. I had a supportive supervisor who challenged me and helped me grow my professional profile. He worked for the Department of Homeland Security and always tried to provide me opportunities to meet new people and enjoy DC life, including taking me for a briefing at DHS

Headquarters.  He was always open to questions and gave me advice that helped me not only for my summer in DC but in my life since then. It was also fun to watch all the helicopters and ospreys that would land right in front of our building throughout the summer.

At first, I was so excited for the internship component of IEIA, but I soon realized there was so much more. The academic focus of the program is hard to beat. The International Economic Policy was one of the best classes that I have ever taken. It challenged me to look at the world through a new lens. I also really enjoyed the Foreign Policy Symposium that TFAS hosted at George Mason University. It brought people from various backgrounds discussing various issues. The panels were awesome and I learned a lot. I loved sitting there and just listening to the speakers and the well thought out questions my fellow peers asked.

Now, of course, I had plenty of fun during my summer in DC. It was my first time in the city, so I tried to do as much as possible including going to museums, trying all the different restaurants, walking down the National Mall, and finding the best cupcake shop. My favorite moment was when a few of my friends and I biked from Georgetown to the Capitol Building and back to GW. We just went exploring and it started getting dark. The mall is incredible when all the lights come, and biking by all national monuments, the Capitol and the White House was an experience I will never forget. It was just a spur of the moment thing, but it was one of the most memorable moments of the summer.

Overall, this program is amazing and provides so many opportunities to meet people and grow your professionalism. My favorite part was building connections with peers and mentors through all the opportunities that it provided. There is so much you can do through the program and it goes by fast, so take advantage of every opportunity.

PA Testimonial – Abby (ICPES)

Written by Abby Nugent – Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) 

I completed my summer internship with Child Care Aware of America in Arlington, Virginia as a governmental affairs intern. My daily role was to assist in researching legislation that would impact the goals of the organization, which include advocating for affordable child care options and safe learning environments for children. I had the incredible opportunity to frequently attend meetings on Capitol Hill with my supervisor, and discuss the climate of child care legislation and funding with congressional staffers. This experience gave me a first-hand view of the legislative process, which was even more valuable given the time I had spent researching the issues.

My favorite academic component of TFAS was the economics course I took with Professor Chris Coyne, the Director of Graduate Programs at George Mason University. Having never taken an economics class prior to the summer, I was intrigued to learn more, and the class exceeded every expectation. The focus of the coursework was how incentives based on economics could be applied to public policy decisions, which was applicable not only to my internship but to my coursework in college. I still find myself referencing principles I learned in this course, and it gave me the economics background that I needed to have a firm foundation in my support of capitalism and the free market.

My favorite social event of TFAS was the weekend visit to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. Given the fact that I have a deep interest in history, this opportunity was incredibly meaningful. The visit was a mix of a guided tour and free time to explore the grounds and farm-land. I left with a greater knowledge of Washington’s life, insight into his personal values, and more respect for arguably our most vital founding father.

TFAS is unique in the fact that it brings together a group of students who all share a foundational common interest, despite our varied backgrounds in journalism, economics, international relations, or other fields. Each and every TFAS peer I interacted with over the course of my summer had a deep desire to learn. Each and every moment of the summer, whether it was taking the metro to an event after work or even sitting in the dorm in the evening, was filled with challenging debate, discussion, and sharing of knowledge and experiences. I met students who challenged my worldview, given their outlook having grown up in a completely different area of the country or perhaps outside of the United States, and yet we all shared respect each other and an interest in expanding our perspectives. TFAS is more than an internship program, and it is more than classes and speakers, although those exciting opportunities make up much of the daily routine. My favorite part of TFAS was experiencing the summer with friends who challenged me and made every moment a chance to learn and grow.

PA Testimonial – Collin

Written by Collin Miller – Program Advisor, Leadership and the American Presidency

Ever since my middle school class trip to DC I have always wanted to live and work in Washington. Even at a young age,  I was struck by the degree to which American and world history comes alive every day on the streets of our nation’s capital. The monuments commemorating the people, movements, eras, and events of our history create a palpable, yet indescribable, feeling that is not replicated in other large American cities like New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, or Los Angeles. Whether it is your first time in Washington or you are native, you will definitely feel the energy of the city even more noticeably with the knowledge that you will be spending a phenomenal summer living, learning, and interning in the world capital of policymaking.

When I found out about The Fund for American Studies, I knew it was the perfect program for me. I was particularly struck by the ethos of TFAS and its steadfast commitment to giving students a behind-the-scenes view of Washington. In fact, this was my favorite aspect of my TFAS summer, the diversity, and breadth of events meant to provide extremely impactful experiences to participants. Whether it was hearing from Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee on Capitol Hill, visiting an active DC Circuit Court of Appeals judge, attending a briefing at the State Department, or touring the British Embassy, TFAS events had a profound impact on me and solidified my resolve to return to Washington. I am so excited to be returning as a Program Advisor for the Leadership and the American Presidency program this summer!

I also was blessed with an internship with eBay’s Government Relation’s Office, where I was able to advocate for internet-enabled small businesses and engage in international trade and customs law. Even though this was not what I originally anticipated doing in Washington, the professional staff at eBay served as absolutely phenomenal mentors and encouraged me to pursue my own passions and curiosity. As a result of my internship, I can now gladly talk for hours about the effects of the internet on small businesses and trade between the U.S. and Canada, something I never knew I have a passion for.

The course I enrolled in as a part of my DC summer was another added layer of excellence to my TFAS summer experience. Our course heavily emphasized experiential learning and most days we left the classroom for the lessons of the city, visiting the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the White House Visitor’s Center, the U.S. Department of Education, the Reagan International Trade Center, Ford’s Theatre, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. This made my TFAS academic experiences more impactful than nearly anything I had done at my home university because I felt that I was actually living the material in a way that simply was not possible anywhere else!

Socially, TFAS allowed me to meet people from around the nation and the world who were extremely intelligent and passionate about their careers. Every TFAS participant I met was dedicated to the idea of service to others, whether it was through dedication to non-profit and charity work or to ethical business leadership. TFAS participants are dedicated to changing the world for the better. I will never forget spending a sweltering DC Saturday afternoon kayaking on the Potomac, waiting in line at Georgetown Cupcakes, or seeing the Star-Spangled Banner on Independence Day with friends from all over the nation that I know will last a lifetime. Remember to take advantage of the connections you make with your peers because they will be the best support system during your time in Washington and throughout your career!

PA Testimonial – Kylee (IPJ)

Written by Kylee Zempel – Program Advisor, Institute on Political Journalism 

As one of the most indecisive people in the world, I vividly remember only twice deciding on things I knew for sure I wanted: broadcasting and Washington. The first occurred while I watched coverage of a Presidential debate, hearing the moderators and thinking, I want to do that. The second occurred during my summer in Washington, DC, with TFAS. Late one night, I stood on the steps of the Capitol looking out over the National Mall—the White House visible to my right, the Washington Monument glowing tall in front of me, the World War II Memorial, Lincoln, and the Potomac far in the distance. I had never been so sure of something in all my life.


Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, I never dreamed I would one day live and work in Washington, DC. My Junior year of college, I interned for Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and I realized I wanted to continue gaining professional skills through another internship. I began searching for internships in Washington, but I felt intimidated and completely unqualified for everything I found—until somebody recommended The Fund for American Studies.

The Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) seemed almost too good to be true. An aspiring television broadcaster and political commentator, my placement at Radio America proved to be a perfect fit. At my internship, I had the opportunity to work on an economic radio story that included research, radio interviews, radio and TV script writing, audio and video editing, experience with a green screen and teleprompter, and real television stand-up experience. While all internships are valuable, Radio America provided me with more than simply a line item on my resume. I walked away from that internship with real experience and a working portfolio!

In addition to my internship, I loved my Economic Problems and Public Policy class at George Mason. My professor knew the material inside and out and regularly added comic relief. I left that class with a better understanding of important issues facing our country, and the class challenged my perspective in ways I didn’t think it would concerning topics like terrorism and protectionism. I also learned valuable practical skills by attending many of the Professional Development seminars TFAS offered.

My favorite part of the TFAS program is the doors it opens for students that extend beyond their internships and summer experiences. Beyond entering an alumni network of over 16,000 people, TFAS presents its students with job opportunities, continued professional development assistance, alumni activities, and more. Thanks to TFAS, since last summer, I have had the opportunity to return to Washington to participate in two TFAS-related events—the 50th Anniversary Gala and a co-sponsored “Liberty and Equality” seminar—both of which were excellent!

But TFAS students don’t always dress in business professional. Other fun summer activities included playing sand volleyball by the Lincoln Memorial, kayaking on the Potomac River, and visiting Mount Vernon. One of my favorite events was the TFAS BBQ. At that event, I met the people who would become some of my closest friends from the summer! We topped off the BBQ with a stop at Captain Cookie and the Milkman (one of my favorite DC treat stops), and the rest is history! TFAS is a great place to meet people who will become your best friends and impact your life in unexpected ways. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a summer than in Washington, DC, with The Fund for American Studies!



PA Testimonial – Jackie (IPVS)

Written by Jackie Rogers – Program Advisor, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Last summer I was afforded the opportunity to spend 8 weeks in Washington, DC to participate in the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems program through The Fund for American Studies. I interned with the Washington Council of Lawyers, and my experience was everything I wanted in a summer internship. The organization works to ensure everyone, regardless of income, has greater access to our justice system. I was able to learn about the legal profession and public-interest law.

During my tenure at the Council, I had the opportunity to organize various events for the public-interest legal community. The Summer Forum was my last event with the organization and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the keynote speaker. The opportunities provided will greatly benefit me in my future legal career. My favorite internship event from last summer was entitled “Supreme Court: View from the Press Gallery.” Top journalists from The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, SCOTUSblog, National Law Journal, and Los Angeles Times—shared their insight on how they cover significant cases.

The Economic Problems and Public Policy Issues course at George Mason University greatly enhanced my view of economics. This class bridged my two favorite subject areas together in a tangible, challenging way. I thoroughly enjoyed each lecture and hearing from my peers with various point of views.

Before my summer with TFAS, I interned for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. While I thoroughly enjoyed my internship, it lacked the unforgettable opportunities only TFAS can provide. During my TFAS summer, I was able to visit the State Department, the Federal Reserve, the Embassy of Greece, and the White House. I am so glad I came back to DC to serve as a Program Advisor. TFAS is an unparalleled program that not only provides students with an incredible internship tailored to their interests, but grants opportunities to fully absorb all of what DC has to offer. I am extremely grateful to this program for helping further my professional and personal growth.

ICPES Student Spotlight

Written by Laura Cusack – Manager, The Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

Victoria is a senior at East Carolina University where she is triple majoring in quantitative economics, political science, and mathematics with a concentration in statistics. Her future plan is to pursue a PhD in economics with a focus in development. Her career goal is to conduct research that influences policy decisions. She is a member of the Phi Mu sisterhood as well as Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Epsilon, and president of Omicron Delta Kappa honors societies.

This summer Victoria interned at the Mercatus Center on the policy operations team. In this role she was able to perform an analysis of their publication process, compile data from policy research strategic plans, assist with executive level speeches, perform data validation on a draft working paper, and more. Through this experience Victoria soon realized that her internship was aligning with her future career goals. Not only was she given the opportunity to research free markets, but contributed to efforts that impact policy decisions on a larger scale.

In addition to her internship, Victoria took a foreign policy and economics course where she learned even more about free markets as well as different foreign policy perspectives. Through her internship, courses, and other opportunities offered by TFAS- Victoria is finishing her senior year strong with experience that will pave the way to a career that is sure to impact the world around her.

For more information on our summer programs, please click here.

IPJ Student Spotlight

Written by Joe Starrs, Director – Institute on Political Journalism 

Jasmine Campbell has very clear goals. She wants to be working in television as a reporter or news anchor. This past summer she took an important step toward that goal by completing a broadcast television internship with the Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ). She interned within sight of Capitol Hill at the Washington, DC bureau of cable television station, Spectrum News NY1. Her duties included interviewing members of the House and Senate, helping the news crew with their gear and researching stories for every broadcast day. As a recent graduate of the College of Charleston, Jasmine knew she needed more experience to be competitive. She got that experience – and more – with TFAS.

The most interesting thing I did at my internship was interviewing members of Congress when it came to issues that matters most such as the Health Care bill. Before coming to DC I didn’t know what bills were passed in Congress and I didn’t consider the impact it had on my family. Once I was up close and personal with lawmakers, it opened my eyes to their personal views and put in perspective how detrimental and vital these bills are for the American people. That really interested me!

I loved the city aspect of DC I come from a really small town in South Carolina, so it felt good to live in a city a lot bigger than what I’m used to. Everything was fast paced and you can tell how motivated everyone was around you, so that made me love the city even more.

This summer helped me grow professionally because I now feel like I can walk in any room and talk to anyone there. Whether it’s the CEO or a peer, I’m able to engage in conversations and network with professionals to expand my horizons  and meet colleagues anywhere I go.

The most challenging aspect of the program was honestly the class. I took an economics class while there, and it was my first time taking the class since high school. I was a bit intimidated at first, but I learned a lot about supply and demand and how the government works with other countries in terms of trade.

My favorite was definitely the Alumni Round Table. Meeting so many alumni who are successful in their professional career was really inspiring. And the food was excellent. 

If you’re thinking about attending TFAS, I say go for it! It was my first time being in DC and I learned and experienced so much while there; I don’t regret it for a second. There’s a reason it’s number one in Google when searching for an internship in DC.

At the end of the summer, Jasmine was one of six students invited to speak at the closing ceremony marking the completion of the TFAS summer institutes. In her remarks she shared this story:

I was with the news producer at my internship, Courtney Pence. We were sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for the interview to start, and just having casual small talk. I began to tell her about my worries and how I was really worried going into the industry with just two broadcasting interviews under my belt. She stopped me during my sentence and said, “You can do this. Everything up until this very moment, you worked towards this. You have what it takes. Now you have to execute and show these news directors what I already know.” At that very moment, I wasn’t just a small girl from a small town. No matter what insecurities I had, I worked hard for these opportunities. It’s my job not to let them past by.

For more information on IPJ please visit