Meet Our 2022 Summer Program Advisors: Lela Gallery ’21

By: Lela Gallery ’21, Program Advisor, Public Policy + Economics

As a freshman at Mount Holyoke College, I came into college as a motivated, ambitious young woman. I wanted to make a difference in the world; I had a passion for all kinds of issues, and I knew I had a strong calling to go into national politics. I wanted to get my foot in the D.C. world, so I was eager to take advantage of any opportunity that came my way. When my professor sent me an email about the TFAS Internship Program, telling me that I was the perfect student for it, I knew I couldn’t say no. I was excited to spend a summer in D.C. with students and professionals who had similar interests. I knew it would be a time of professional growth, where I could open doors that I didn’t think were possible. TFAS met these expectations and beyond.

Within the first week of living in D.C., I knew I had made the right choice. I became instant friends with my roommate, who I shared many adventures with. We bonded over Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo in our apartment, dressed up to roam the streets of Georgetown, explored the National Mall at night and got caught in the rain to get Jeni’s ice cream in Eastern Market. Living on Capitol Hill, it was rewarding to walk past the Supreme Court on my way to the metro and run into politicians during late-night grocery runs. My friends and I church-hopped on Sundays, went to brunch, watched the fireworks on the Fourth of July at the National Mall, and took advantage of the nightlife. By the time the summer came to an end, D.C. had begun feeling like home.

The best part of my experience, however, was my internship. I interned at Americans United for Life, a pro-life law firm that was a match made in heaven. I was passionate about pro-life issues, and I always wanted to gain legal experience; TFAS granted my wish! I got to deepen my knowledge about issues I cared about, watch my boss testify in front of the Senate, and meet politicians who wanted to protect life. As an intern at a small non-profit, I got to work closely with my supervisors and make great friends. I enjoyed the mission and people there, and the work left me fulfilled.

If it weren’t for TFAS, I wouldn’t be where I am professionally. Through fascinating guest lectures with Rand Paul, insightful small group networking sessions, and phone calls with my mentor, I learned things that I still use to advance my career. Since my summer, TFAS has given me new opportunities to travel back to D.C. I have attended a student colloquium with the Religious Freedom Institute, become a fellow with First Liberty Institute, and worked for the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations. I’m humbled that such an organization believed in my leadership potential, and I can’t wait to see what TFAS does for this summer’s cohort of students.

Spending the summer with TFAS was a wonderful opportunity for me. I’m excited to return to D.C. this summer as a Program Advisor for the Economics and Public Policy Track. I enjoyed my time in the program last year, and I can’t wait to partake in others’ experiences with it! I look forward to mentoring other students on how to make it in D.C. and seeing them launch their careers. If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere!

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.