Holiday Season in The District

While Washington, DC is filled with fun, free things to do year round, the holiday season is an extra special time to experience the city. We’ve rounded up top activities and events for you to see and do in The District over the next few weeks.

Take a trip to the front of the White House and you will find the National Christmas Tree. Nightly performances will begin the week of December 8th. Walk down the National Mall to see the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree that traveled 4,000 miles to DC all the way from Idaho. The Lighting Ceremony will take place on December 6th at the Capitol’s West Lawn. While you’re on The Mall, escape the cold to the U.S. Botanic Garden’s ‘Season’s Greenings: National Parks and Historic Places’. The exhibit features one of the largest indoor Christmas tress adorned with ornaments from national parks. Live music will be offered on certain days of the week.

national-christmas-treeThere are plenty of holiday shows and concerts to choose from at various theaters around the city. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is playing at the National Theatre from December 13th-31st. The Washington Ballet will be preforming the holiday classic The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre until December 24th. The National Cathedral has a full schedule of holiday concerts this month.grinch

Do you still need to do some last minute shopping? Head to the Downtown Holiday Market held daily from noon-8pm at 8th and F streets until December 23rd. Georgetown is one of the best shopping neighborhoods in the city. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Georgetown Glow – a light art display throughout the area – in addition to the other stores.
If you want to see more lights, the National Zoo’s ZooLights is open until January 1st.


waaIf you are looking to explore outside the city, you can volunteer for Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery on December 17th. ‘ICE! Christmas Around the World’ at the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor is an interactive winter wonderland fun for all ages.

Have a wonderful holiday season in DC!

Alumni Spotlight – U.S. Army Vet to TFAS Alum

Written by Mallie Woodfin – Manager, Recruitment and Admissions

Jordan Lopez is currently in the midst of his senior year at DePaul University. This summer, he was a participant in the Institute on Economics and International Affairs (IEIA) and interned with the Rumsfeld Foundation.

Jordan is a veteran of the United States Army and works at his university as a Veteran Liaison assisting in the use of education benefits. He has traveled to 15 different countries which, along with his experience in the military, helped develop his interest in international studies.lopez-2

Jordan was chosen to represent IEIA and speak about the ‘learn’ element of the program at the Closing Ceremony.

“Each of these classes has been among the most exciting, challenging, and engaging courses I have taken in my academic career.”

While his speech focused on what he learned academically during the summer, he touched on how much he learned outside the classroom from briefings with officials from the White House and the House Committee on Homeland Security, guest lectures and events with TFAS alumni to name a few.

lopez1Jordan first heard about our program from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS). You can read their blog post on his summer here.

For more information on our summer programs please visit

Alumni Profile – Avery Jamison

Written by Rachel Sullivan – Program Advisor, Institute on Business and Government Affairs
Other than driving through or stopping to get a bite to eat, Avery Jamison had never been in Washington, D.C. for an extended period of time. He knew that he wanted an exceptional internship the summer before his junior year at Elon University in North Carolina. That’s why he joined TFAS for a summer in the Institute on Business and Government Affairs:

I was fascinated by their commitment to providing students with exceptional internships, networking events, and events that proved to be beneficial for me as a growing professional individual and as a millennial American. I wanted my first internship to be somewhere I can grow and learn as much as I can, and I was confident TFAS would provide that kind of experience for me, especially in Washington, D.C.”

avery internshipAvery interned for the Toy Industry Association, where he was challenged on a day-to-day basis with interpreting toy regulations and standards. Over the course of the summer he wrote about 250 interpretations in a document about 150 pages long. He also attended Congressional hearings and lobbied with representatives from other toy and manufacturing companies.

Outside of work, Avery studied hard for his economics class and explored DC with friends. However, his favorite aspect of the summer was the multiple professional and networking opportunities provided by TFAS:

I particularly enjoyed the Embassy of Australia briefing where I learned about our positive U.S.-Australia relations, what it’s like to visit and live in Australia, and, most importantly for me, what it takes to work at an Embassy and some of the day-to-day operations of that responsibility.”aj-australia 

Avery plans to receive a bachelor’s in International Studies (European concentration), with minors in French & Business Administration. He then plans to attend graduate school and eventually receive a Master’s in International Relations. But he doesn’t plan to stop there—he is even considering volunteering with the Peace Corps or Teach for America to explore the world and do volunteer work at the same time. His ambitious and ultimate life goal is to work and live in France, preferably at the U.S. Embassy, and receive a dual-citizenship there.

For more information on our program, please visit 

Alumni Profile – Sam Hilley

Sam Hilley, a current senior at Rhodes College was a student with the Institute on Economics and International Affairs this past summer. During his 8 weeks with TFAS, Sam conducted valuable research at his internship with the Solar Foundation, earned 3 college credits from George Mason University, attended briefings and lectures from top DC officials, all while taking in the excitement the city has to offer. Sam plans to hopefully return to DC after graduation this year.

To read the article Rhodes College recently published on Sam’s summer in DC, please click here. For more information on our academic internship programs, visit

A Headline Summer: Student adds dozens of news stories to her portfolio with IPJ internship

Written by Joe Starrs – Director, Institute on Political Journalism

gabby-1When Gabriella Ciuffetelli wrapped up her junior year at Hofstra University and drove down to Washington, D.C. to begin her internship at The Washington Examiner newspaper, she didn’t know what to expect. She hoped to get some experience reporting, but knew that interns need to prove themselves before getting their work published. As she walked into the newsroom for the first time, little did she realize how much hands on experience she would get. In 8 weeks she wrote over 30 articles, all with bylines-averaging 3-4 articles a week.

She was able to cover federal agencies like the labor department, the IRS, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Justice Department. She also wrote about the Presidential campaigns, legislation on Capitol Hill, and the mass shooting in Orlando Florida.


“The most interesting article I wrote this summer was about an HHS Inspector General report which found that human error had put millions of dollars of CDC property at risk. It was the first time I’d ever read through one of those reports, and while it was challenging at first, it really did open my eyes to the world of agency oversight. The article was actually one of the first ones I had written at my internship, and it ended up being one of the trending pieces on the Washington Examiner’s site for a couple of days that week, which certainly added to the experience!”


“I think the most memorable event at my internship was the day after the DNC was hacked. Over the course of the summer I played a big part in helping compile the first and last names of every delegate being sent to the national conventions. This involved calling state party leadership for both the democratic and republican parties. After the DNC information was published on WikiLeaks, we discovered that there had been number of emails sent from he national leadership to the state parties instructing them not to cooperate with or release delegates’ names to us. We got the project done in the end, and it looked great, but that moment made me realize just how connected I really was to national politics while working in DC- even as an intern!”

 “The best advice I could give to anyone considering IPJ is not to be nervous! Spending the summer away is one of the most exciting and rewarding decisions you can make, and you’re in great hands with the TFAS staff. So don’t worry about whether or not you’ll make friends, or if your classes will be stressful, or if you’ll have trouble during your internship. The staff at TFAS,  the professors at George Mason, the friends you’ll make, and your internship supervisors are there to help you! They’ll do so every step of the way, and will end up becoming some of your biggest resources for the summer, and for life.”

For more information on our programs, please visit

Lights, Camera, Capitol

Written by Joel Troutman – Coordinator, Institute on Business and Government Affairs

If Jonathan Lee were to describe his passion and future in one word, it would be “action”. Currently studying Film Production at Chapman University, Jonathan plans to start his own production company that would pair nonprofit organizations, the government, and other business not traditionally reached by video.

This plan led him to apply for the Institute on Business and Government Affairs so he would learn how a business of this type might run. While interning at Shirley & Banister Public Affairs this summer, Jonathan was able to gain valuable hands on experience working in a field that intersects business and government.

At home, Jonathan is involved with his community using his film making to tell stories about those who lack a voice. He has worked with several nonprofits from Aid Africa to Oak View Renewal Partnership. Working in DC this summer helped him expand his work experiences into a different sector.

Jonathan threw himself into the summer, attending any and every event, trying to maximize his experience in DC. Meeting as many people as possible and networking with guest speakers gave him a lot of insight into the professional world. While he admits that film-making is a tough business, he advises all future IBGA students to “work hard and enjoy yourself.”

For more information on our summer programs please visit

A ‘Thriving’ Summer in Washington, DC – Alumni Profile

Written by Carly Chafey – Coordinator, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Coming from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Collin McKone is pursuing degrees in Business Management and Finance at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Collin, who claims, “my ultimate life goal is to help as many people as possible within the limited time I have alive” spent the summer with the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (IPVS) interning at Thrive DC.

collin3-3Thrive DC is a nonprofit that works to prevent and end homelessness by providing vulnerable people with a wide range of services to help stabilize their lives. Collin saw the potential of the female clients and was inspired to create Goal Seekers, a Motivational Program that creates an opportunity to create and accomplish goals on a weekly basis. Though still new, it has thus far proved to be an effective program.

The Fund for American Studies IPVS Roundtable
Collin was eager to get to spend a few weeks in our nation’s capital and definitely took advantage of everything D.C. has to offer. “The history and value of D.C. has astonished me,” he said. He visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon, kayaked on the Potomac with friends, attended optional TFAS events and lead an IPVS Fundraiser. By the end of his 4 weeks, he definitely earned the award he received as Most Outstanding Student.

For more information on our programs, visit