Written by Brooke Cary – Program Advisor, Institute on Political Journalism
Like many of the alumnus who look back on their summer with The Fund for American Studies, my mind is filled with memories of the heartbeat of D.C. Where should I begin?
My summer with the Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) was filled with fun, friends, so much learning and so much absorbing of the rich history of America and the diversity which makes our nation great.
During my 8 short weeks in D.C., I took an economics class and attended weekly guest lectures from highly qualified professionals in my field. I attended the pre-law symposium, where I heard about some of the real issues that our government was facing with criminal law. As often as I could, I attended the weekly lectures hosted on Capitol Hill, where I was privileged to hear Senator Rand Paul give a lecture on some of the principles which were guiding his decisions. I, along with 200+ other students was able to ask him questions directly about some of the current national issues.
During the weekly guest lecture times, I met the White House correspondent for Fox News, and even met for coffee with some of the other guest lecturers, who had been working in politics or journalism for 30+ years. There was an incredible opportunity to network and learn from other experienced professionals.
My internship was probably my favorite part of the summer. I was assigned to work for an investigative reporter at The New York Times. I’m immensely grateful for the mentor-ship that this internship provided me and have applied so many of the things I learned to my professional work as a freelance reporter, post-graduation from IPJ. My supervisor took me under his wing, and challenged me at the same time. His high expectations and the rapid-fire pace with which we worked drove me to learn everything I could from him. I was learning, growing and taking it all in. Constantly!
Finally, I made connections with friends who live all over the U.S. and the world, from California, to Alabama, New York to Brussels, Czech Republic and Korea. These friends filled my summer with fun and sharpened me as I learned about each of our different backgrounds, ambitions and perspectives.
I was able to experience July 4th in our Nation’s Capital, to attend events on the lawn of the Washington Monument, to peruse the National Gallery of Art or take a peek inside the Library of Congress. The doors were open (and free!) for me to do so. There are also plenty of spots to grab dinner or ice cream with friends, relax by the Potomac River or hang out in Georgetown after a long day of walking the city.
Every weekend, TFAS planned at least one fun social event that we could participate in if we so chose. One of my favorite things was the monument tour, just a day or so after I first arrived. It was incredible to not only get an orientation of the city, but to finish the tour by watching the sun cast its rich pink and blues color on the water by the Jefferson Memorial. I was so hyped about the city I would spend my summer in! The TFAS BBQ and volleyball tournaments were also highlights for me, who certainly capitalized on the opportunity to lose a game of corn-hole and up my defective frisbee game.
I am so perpetually grateful for the experience I had while I was in D.C. and I so look forward to what is in store for the future alumni of TFAS. If you’re considering spending the summer with one of the TFAS programs, you’re in for a crazy, wonderful and tremendously useful experience.