By: Elizabeth Ropp ’21, Program Advisor, Business + Government Relations
When COVID-19 sent everyone home from college in March of 2020, I began thinking more seriously about my future than ever before. As a sophomore Business Economics and Government double major at Wofford College, a variety of career paths were available to me, but I wanted to gain valuable internship experience to hone my interests. When a TFAS alumna introduced me to TFAS, I was excited about the opportunity to spend a summer in D.C. among motivated students who shared similar interests. My TFAS summer taught me so many valuable lessons, left me with lifelong friends, and allowed me to gain professional experience that has opened the doors to my future.
I had to privilege to intern for Senator Tim Scott (R – SC). As a Government major, I have studied the inner workings of policy making in the classroom, but experiencing government work in real life was another ball game. My internship made me appreciate everything our representatives and their staff do to ensure that our freedoms are protected each and every day. Though I had regular tasks such as answering the phone and combing through news articles pertaining to the Senator, a new issue was introduced each day and staff members would occasionally ask me to research a particular issue, write a letter to constituents, or take notes on a hearing. Performing these duties allowed me to form personal relationships with my coworkers and recognize that I enjoyed a changing environment where my small contribution helped fellow South Carolinians and Americans.
After my internship each day, I hopped on the metro to George Mason University where I took class each evening. Both my economics and government courses nicely interwove into my internship learning experience and allowed me to engage in meaningful discussions pertaining to policy issues with professors and TFAS students. After class on Tuesday evenings, a guest lecture was presented. My favorite lecture was delivered by Greg Lukianoff from FIRE, who talked about first amendment rights on college campuses. I also enjoyed the Braver Angel’s student-led debate on the merits of universal healthcare in the United States. Each element of TFAS programming deepened my summer experience and allowed me to meet inspiring people and find my passions. On the weekends, my roommates and I spontaneously adventured around D.C. and explored Georgetown, the Smithsonians, the Wharf, and more. The friends I made during my TFAS summer are some of the kindest, smartest, and most driven individuals I have ever met. TFAS advanced my academic and professional goals, but also my personal relationships. Spending my summer with TFAS was one of the best decisions I have made, and I am ecstatic that I get to return to D.C. this summer as the Program Advisor for the Business and Government Relations program track. I cannot wait to help this summer’s students develop the same skills that I did while having fun in our nation’s capital!
Program Advisors, informally known as PAs, are recent TFAS alumni who live in student housing and help current students navigate the program and Washington, D.C. during the summer.