By: Amanda Shoopman ’18, Program Advisor – Leadership + the American Presidency
Growing up, I was always unsure of my path. I always had so many interests; I never was able to imagine myself in a specific career. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old and volunteering with the National Park Service that I found my calling in the great outdoors. From there, I was on a path to discover how I could make the biggest difference in ensuring future generations had every possible opportunity to enjoy our public lands.
I was a freshman at Miami Dade College studying environmental science and a senator with the student government association when I heard about TFAS from my advisor. At that point in my academic career, I was interested in transferring to George Mason University after finishing my two-year program. I was still exploring my options so spending two months in D.C. while having the opportunity to study at the university I was interested in sounded like a great opportunity. I was also really interested in the opportunity to learn more about the nonprofit sector. TFAS was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time.
My favorite part of my TFAS experience was my internship, where I learned and grew professionally. I had the unique experience of having a joint internship with The Foundation Center and Youth Learning as a citizen environmental scientist. My supervisors took me under their wings and taught me more than I ever could have expected, and I’m so grateful to still be in contact with both of them as the years have gone by. The learning environment they both created for me in their separate workplaces gave me the knowledge that I use now in my career and helped me to most recently be a successful intern on Capitol Hill.
Living in D.C. during the Summer of 2018 was an entire experience in itself. I was fortunate enough to experience so much in just one summer. With my wonderful roommates by my side, I was able to explore Teddy Roosevelt Island, walk every block of Georgetown, and try out practically every bakery in the District. My favorite part of living in D.C. that summer was being there when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. It was an electric experience that cemented my love for this city.
I remember my nerves at the prospect of taking an economics class at a university known for its strong economics program. However, the professor made it such a fun learning experience, I realized why GMU is considered one of the top econ schools in the nation. The learning opportunity I had at Mason during that summer showed me that Mason was the school for me, and I’m so glad TFAS helped pave my educational path.
Looking back, I now realize that networking was one of the biggest skills I learned from my time at TFAS. Over the summer, I was able to attend events such as Capitol Hill Oceans Week, a networking event with the Heritage Foundation, and volunteered at an event with the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. To this day, I continue to network with fellow TFAS alumni, and I know that wherever I go I can make a professional connection. Networking is one of the most important skills you can have in D.C., and TFAS equips you with all of the tools that you need.
Follow my adventures in Washington, D.C. on Instagram @dcltap.
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.