PA Testimonial – Reim

Written by Reim Alian – Program Advisor, Institute on Economics and International Affairs 

Growing up in a small town in Connecticut where the graduating classes were at most 60 students and small businesses scarcely lined Main Street, I yearned for the taste of the fast paced city life. Providence, Rhode Island where I attended college kept me pacified but did not completely satisfy my craving. It wasn’t until I spent eight weeks nestled in the heart of Washington D.C. did I finally feel full.

The city became less intimidating as each day passed. The busy morning commute to my internship became second nature as I scurried through the bustling Foggy Bottom Metro Station unfazed, in heels, with a coffee and bagel in hand, all while on the phone with my mom.

I spent eight weeks crammed in Suite 200 at 1001 Connecticut Avenue with eight other interns, passing around coffee pots and legal documents. Suite 200 is home to Americans For Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, an accredited non-governmental organization that promotes democracy and reform in Bahrain and other gulf states, all while raising awareness of human rights violations and abuses. ADHRB staff support and advocate for human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists by collaborating with other entities in Bahrain, the Middle East, the European Union and the United States.

As an intern, I translated documents, live tweeted segments of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and examined several accounts of human rights violations. While at ADHRB, I published two online articles regarding UAE Cybersecurity Laws and Bahraini political prisoners. In addition, I researched and drafted sections of The Shia Discrimination Report in Saudi Arabia that was published in 2016.

When I wasn’t sitting at my ADHRB desk, or in the lecture hall at George Mason University, I was scaling the historic streets, watching the sunset from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, and indulging in red velvet cupcakes and caramel cappuccinos, sitting in one cozy café at a time. And when I wasn’t eating cupcakes, I was attending rallies and keeping up with the news, as it was happening. I witnessed the potency of democracy when Democratic Representatives occupied the House floor demanding gun control reform and as the chants of “this is what democracy looks like” lingered through the thick June air.

The Fund For American Studies eminently affected my personal and professional development; and in eight short weeks, my understanding for international relations was transformed as I listened to the narratives of celebrated lecturers, such as Mr. Arthur Laffer of the Reagan Administration and as I learned about the detriments of poor economic policies and their disadvantaging effects on the Global South.

As my plane began to ascend, leaving The District behind, drowning in fiery sunset hues, I could not help but feel thankful for an incredible summer filled with challenge, growth, and opportunity. I closed my eyes thinking of when I would be able to return back home, back to D.C.

PA Testimonial – Liz

Written by Liz Hartman – Program Advisor, Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA)

Months after completing the TFAS program, I look back and am still amazed at my summer in DC. My journey began like many others, not knowing what I was getting myself into, but I am so glad that I took the leap from  Oregon to attend the Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA).

Through my internship at the Hohlt Group, I adapted quickly to the professional world. This was not an internship where I merely made coffee or copied papers, I was working on projects for clients and it was thrilling. The work experience I gained was remarkable and just one of the many incredible aspects about my summer.

TFAS gives interns access to high caliber events that would never be possible otherwise. I was able to attend networking opportunities all over DC, lectures given by Senator Rand Paul, Judge Napolitano, and others through the Capitol Hill Lecture Series, leadership seminars and more. The institute site visits were unbelievable. We attended briefings at different sites every week, including Bloomberg Government, AEI and Caterpillar. I was also selected to speak at the Congressional Scholarship Awards Dinner, an event honoring Congressmen and private sector leaders. This was an incredible privilege and one I will never forget. The connections TFAS provides are vital to breaking into the DC circle. The contacts I’ve made have helped me to this day.

I had the pleasure of becoming lifelong friends with some of the most accomplished people from all over the United States. Together, we took DC by storm – networking our way through the capitol or attending Jazz in the sculpture garden. I have so many amazing memories from my summer all of them involve the incredible people that I met – all thanks to TFAS.

TFAS connects you with friends, mentors, and professionals in DC and beyond. The TFAS alums go out of their way to have coffee with anyone who asks. That network speaks for itself, and tells you the kind of leaders who attend this program. When you join TFAS, you are joining a group whose goal is to help others as they have been helped before. That is what makes this organization so special.

I still look back on my summer in DC and am impressed by all of the invaluable opportunities I was given. Get ready for one of the biggest whirlwind summers of your life. Push yourself to get the most out of this amazing experience because the opportunities are there, it is up to you to embrace it.

PA Testimonial – Grace

Written by Grace Lederer –  Program Advisor, Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES)

The opportunity to be a TFAS program participant fell into my lap last year just a few days before the application’s priority deadline.  An email with the subject headline “Intern in DC this Summer” sent by Saint Leo University’s honors program caught my eye and I was immediately interested in the program.  I applied and was thrilled to find out that I was accepted into the Engalitcheff Institute of Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES).  Although I had no idea what kind of internship I should expect, I trusted in TFAS to lead the way.

I had spent the previous summer interning at Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, a tropical research institute in Costa Rica.  When the ICPES Program Director called and said that she had gotten me an interview with the United States Department of Agriculture, I thought it was the perfect fit and I could not have been more excited.  I was slightly worried that I did not know enough about engineering to be in the USDA’s Water Infrastructure Sector, but once on the job, I quickly realized that I was able to make meaningful contributions in my workplace by writing development strategies for water projects, coordinating conferences, and managing the USDA_RD social media platforms.

I loved everything about my workplace, particularly the setting.  Its close proximity to Capitol Hill allowed me the flexibility to attend what turned out to be one of my favorite TFAS events of the summer—a Lecture Series titled “Free Markets, Individual Liberty, and Civil Society.”  My attendance at the first optional speaker was based purely off the lure of a free meal, but I quickly found how intellectually stimulating it is to attend speakers that I may not have thought I would have any interest in on the surface.  I thoroughly enjoyed broadening my views and hearing the viewpoints and experiences of legal experts and business executives.

The best part of the academic experience with TFAS was how relevant the lessons I had in the classroom were to the current events that were unfolding in our country.  My ECON 309 “Economic Problems and Public Policies” class at George Mason addressed hotly debated policy issues that had become central to the ongoing presidential election.  It seemed that each day I had a lesson or a guest speaker, I would come home to find the topic trending as a national news headline. 

Out of all the amazing experiences that TFAS afforded me, being able to end my days by coming back to an apartment building filled with friends made it that much better.  It was so refreshing to be surrounded by driven young people who shared my passions and we made countless memories exploring the city together.  I still keep in touch with my roommates and neighbors and I think the network we built with each other will be just as valuable as the professional networks that we created in the years to come.


PA Testimonial – Chase

Written by Chase Forrester – Program Advisor, Leadership and the American Presidency

This time last year, I was finalizing the details of my internship placement and preparing to spend my summer in the nation’s capital as a part of the inaugural class of the Leadership and The American Presidency Program – I can still remember just how difficult it was to put my excitement into words. As much as I hate to admit, I had never been to Washington, DC prior to this experience. So, at the time, the idea of completely emerging myself into the busiest political arena in the United States for two whole months was almost unimaginable. On top of all of the excitement, I was nervous about using the metro, slightly confused as to whether or not the majority of my wardrobe would be considered ”too professional”, and even a little uneasy about living in a city where I did not know a single person. Nevertheless, I arrived to DC on move-in day and was indescribably eager to begin what I knew would be the summer of a lifetime.

My internship placement was with Americans United For Life (AUL), a Nonprofit Organization known for playing a fundamental role in every aspect of defending human life. Throughout my time working for AUL, my supervisor challenged my fellow interns and me with several new tasks and ideas on a daily basis, all while giving us numerous opportunities to network and participate. Having the opportunity to work for this professional organization was not only educational, but also incredibly inspiring.

However, the chance to learn and grow as a young professional did not stop once I left the doors of AUL each day. The staff of the Fund for American Studies planned countless activities and learning opportunities for all of its students, and they always made sure that each of us benefited from the experience in the best way possible. For me, the most memorable academic opportunity of the entire summer was attending a Criminal Law Symposium held at George Mason University. Lawyers from all over the country attended this symposium and, after an extremely informative question-and-answer session between them and the students, I was able to meet several of them to discuss my plans in obtaining a law degree in the future. Needless to say, this was one of the several opportunities that I otherwise would have not had if it had not been for TFAS and the Leadership and the American Presidency Program.

As a matter of fact, I knew only after the first few days that participating in this program would impact my life in ways that I never would have expected it to. It was through this program that I realized not only was I capable of navigating the metro system like a pro and successfully dressing in either business-casual or business professional attire on a daily basis, but I could also become the best, most confident version of myself all while professionally living, learning and interning in Washington, DC.

From the first official day of the program until the last, I woke up every morning ready to work my hardest and benefit from every possible opportunity, and the Fund for American Studies gave me the chance to do that and more. Without a doubt, participating in this exceptional program was the best experience of my life- and I knew as soon as I left DC that I would do anything to return and be a part of the TFAS family again.

PA Testimonial – Brooke

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.

PA Testimonial – Sarah

Written by Sarah Markley – Program Advisor, Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

Since my freshman year of college, I knew that I wanted to work in international relations and travel around the world.  Growing up and attending college in a small, rural Pennsylvania town, this sometimes seemed like an impossible dream. While studying abroad in Northern Ireland and experiencing other cultures all over Europe, I realized that in order to pursue a career in this field I needed an internship upon my return to the United States. I had always wanted to work in DC, since it’s the headquarters of most international organizations in the US and also happens to be my favorite American city. Trying to ward off the panic as I searched through countless online job postings in my student housing overseas, I came across an opportunity that seemed too good to be true. The more I learned about The Fund for American Studies and the Institute on Economics and International Affairs, the more I knew it was exactly the experience I needed to jumpstart my career.

My favorite aspect of the TFAS summer programs was the diversity of experiences they offered – not only did I have an internship, but I earned college credits and heard speakers from many important DC organizations. None of my friends from home could believe how much was offered in just one program, and I still feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to attend IEIA last summer. Living and working in DC gave me the confidence to go after my goals and to know that it’s possible to start a career here, and it was so encouraging to have TFAS supporting me every step of the way.

I had a really rewarding internship experience working at World Hope International, a nonprofit that does amazing work in struggling nations like Sierra Leone. The office environment was so welcoming and my supervisors tried to build projects around my skills to help me have a great experience. Eight weeks absolutely flew – I couldn’t believe I gained so much from such a short amount of time! Returning to school, I definitely noticed a difference in my confidence level while networking and connecting with professionals, and I also had a much more focused idea of what I wanted to do after graduation.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my introductory economics class at George Mason University, since I was honestly pretty nervous about it when the summer started. I’d never taken economics before, but Dr. Boudreaux made the topics easy to understand and relevant to everyday experiences. I also bonded quickly with my roommates who were my best friends throughout the summer – we had some great times exploring the city! Georgetown was our favorite spot, and it’s such a beautiful walk from GW’s campus. You can also reward yourself with cupcakes when you get there, so it’s a win-win.

Spending a summer with TFAS is one of the best things you can do with your time, so make sure you take advantage of every opportunity! Get to know the other students and reach out to people at your internship site – you never know what kind of helpful connection you could make just from getting coffee with someone. And don’t forget to make the city your own! Find your favorite spots off the beaten track and take time to enjoy the little things. You couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the summer, so enjoy it!

Three TFAS Semester Students Return for D.C. Life, Round Two

Each closing ceremony leaves TFAS students with happy memories of one last gathering of new friends and one final look at life in Washington, D.C. For some students however, the D.C. adventure is only just beginning. Three students from our 2016 Fall Semester Programs found ways to stay in D.C. and squeeze more out of the unique opportunities only Washington can offer.

Audrey Anderson (LTAP-F 16) had already finished her studies at the University of Missouri and was ready to report for duty with the Air Force after the Fall Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program ended. However, a delayed commission opened up the opportunity to stay on in D.C. and continue her internship at the Rumsfeld Foundation. This allowed her to gain even more real-world, practical work experience before her commission in May of this year.

“I was excited about the program before I came,” Anderson said. “I had only been in D.C. for two days previously and I didn’t know what to expect. That was better, in a way. I enjoyed it more.” She knew before coming that her experience in D.C. and in the TFAS program would hinge on who was joining the program with her. In the end, her classmates were her favorite part of the program.

Anderson particularly enjoyed the Friday LTAP classes, when she and her classmates went on site visits, heard guest speakers, talked about leaders of the past like Jefferson and Lincoln and discussed what they had learned that week – in and out of the classroom, at their internship sites and around town. It was a chance to hear each other’s ideas, let the lessons soak in and make the important connections.

“We talked about our thoughts on how everything related to being a leader,” she said. “And we talked about how we could apply those lessons.” Anderson felt she learned as much from her classmates as from the classes themselves, regarding how to be a leader in every sphere of life.

One TFAS memory she particularly treasures revolved around her classmates and the new bonds they forged in a few short months. Before Thanksgiving, the students gathered together in their dormitory for a Friendsgiving celebration. The gathering provided food and fun, as well as some food for thought.

“At one point,” she said, “everyone was eating and there were 20 different conversations going on. I looked around and thought about how, three months ago, we didn’t even know each other, but now we were thankful to be together.”

Now, the majority of the Fall 2016 students have returned to their universities or homes, so Anderson is working on keeping in touch, as well as learning new lessons and continuing to expand her professional skills through her internship.

“I’m learning about work culture and what it’s like to stay and be consistent,” she said. “I’m enjoying building relationships with my coworkers and learning new ways to help.”

Marisa DiGiuseppe (CSF 16) had nearly finished her political science degree as the University of Miami in Florida before joining the Capital Semester Fall 2016 class and was on track to graduate in December, so her path from an academic opportunity at TFAS to a work opportunity in D.C. was also clear. She applied to the TFAS Capital Semester program on a friend’s recommendation; it seemed to DiGiuseppe like a good opportunity to try the D.C. life.

“It was an adjustment, coming from Miami to D.C.,” she said. “But the energy in D.C. was motivating.” DiGiuseppe also found, to her surprise, her economics classes were motivating her to take an interest in that field of study as never before.

“I was surprised by how much I liked my classes. I never thought I would like economics classes, because I hated them in school.” However, through her TFAS economics course, DiGiuseppe said she realized how necessary it is to understand economic forces – and how common it is for people to form their opinions on economic issues without sufficient knowledge of underlying causes.

DiGiuseppe also felt she gained a lot from the site briefings, particularly the visits to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Embassy of Estonia. The briefing at the UNHCR allowed DiGiuseppe to further her knowledge of refugee issues by putting her face to face with professionals at one of the principal humanitarian organizations working in the field.

“I enjoyed it because I had studied issues facing refugee and migrant populations,” she said. “I’ve also had two previous nonprofit internships working with refugee populations. I liked hearing the perspective of someone working for an agency that addresses the refugee crisis on a larger scale.”

She enjoyed the Embassy of Estonia for the rare, behind-the-scenes opportunities it afforded. She and her classmates were able to meet the ambassador in person, as well as hear from a cybersecurity expert who spoke about current events in Europe and intelligence.

During her TFAS internship with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office, DiGiuseppe observed and participated in the busy life of the Senate, listening to politicians, business leaders and other stakeholders discuss energy policy and environmental issues. She found she has a particular interest in regulations. She brought her newly developing appreciation for viewing issues through an economic lens to her internship.

“I liked hearing business leaders talk about how bills might impact them and others outside the Hill. I enjoyed seeing how businesses navigate regulations in general.” She credits her time at TFAS and in Washington as instrumental in helping her make the first move down her career path, which is beginning right now at ML Strategies, the government consulting arm of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

“I couldn’t have gotten this job without my TFAS internship,” she said. Previous internships during college exposed her to private law firms, but her TFAS internship added an extra dimension to her resume. “TFAS gave me the opportunity to gain valuable internship experience on the Hill, working on a number of hot-topic policy issues that helped elevate my job prospects in D.C.”

Yinon Reiss (CSF 16) graduated from Hebrew University in his hometown of Jerusalem before joining TFAS, so he also came to Washington with no obligation to return and finish a program. Although he did not plan to stay in D.C. beyond the semester, when his networking efforts during his time at TFAS yielded a work opportunity, he was willing and able to take the leap.

“I wanted to experience all that D.C. has to offer,” Reiss said. “The museums, the politics, the sports, the night life – but above all, I wanted to meet awesome people. Fortunately, thanks to my experience at TFAS, D.C. exceeded all my expectations!” Some of his favorite memories of his semester were from times he and his classmates were simply spending time together, even if that just involved sitting on the front steps of their dorm and chatting.

During his TFAS semester, Reiss interned at the Hudson Institute, serving as a research assistant to a senior fellow. After the semester finished, he transitioned immediately into working for the Embassy of Israel in Washington, which has him working in a faster-paced environment and shifting his focus to different topics.

He hopes his new position will help him to continue developing his networking skills – he found his current job through networking at social events in the Washington community – as well as his management and strategic thinking abilities. He is excited to see what doors his new position will open in the future, and also to continue his explorations of the city.

“During the semester,” Reiss said, “I realized that D.C. has so much to offer, and that finding a job and extending my stay here is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”​

For more information on our summer and semester programs, please visit