Written by Savannah Hostetter – Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems
I have a confession to make. Ten years ago, I, too, was one of those awkward, neon-shirt-wearing, monument-gawking, 5th graders that plague Washington, D.C. So, when the opportunity arose for me to live, learn, and intern in the city I’d fallen in love with on a school field trip, I applied right away! For eight weeks, TFAS pushed me far beyond my limits. The Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) opened my mind to new ways of critically examining our nation’s economic and public policy controversies, and it molded me into a young professional prepared to reach new career heights.
I interned on Capitol Hill in the office of U.S. Representative Michael K. Conaway (TX-11). My internship provided me with the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience and conduct challenging legislative research. By the end of the summer, I had written fifteen constituent letters addressing issues ranging from the bushmeat trade in Africa, to President Obama’s sanctions against Russia relating to the Ukraine crisis. Part of my internship also included a project on educational policy affecting military dependents and disabled children. Overall, my favorite part of the job was the conversations I had with numerous constituents, congressional staffers, and congressmen.
The classes in ICPES were challenging, interactive, and rewarding. My classes were filled with some of the brightest students in the nation. As a result, class time was often spent engaging in meaningful discussion about public policy.
My TFAS experience has not only opened doors of opportunity, but it has also prepared me to boldly and successfully walk through them. My summer experience in D.C. has changed my life. Upon conclusion of my TFAS experience, the TX-11 office recommended me to fill an open staff assistant position with the House Ethics Committee. I was named the Outstanding Student of ICPES at graduation, and I am now blessed to serve as the 2015 ICPES Program Advisor. Due to TFAS’ partnership with GMU, I was able to take the classes I needed to graduate from Abilene Christian University two years early. Thanks to a positive letter of recommendation from my internship office, I will begin law school at Baylor University in February. Thank you, TFAS staff, supporters, and alumni for making a tangible difference in the lives of so many students!