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.