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!