By: Emily Schroen ’19, Program Advisor – International Affairs
I don’t consider myself a self-made woman. As much as I’d like to claim responsibility for my accomplishments I’m constantly reminded of the people, institutions, and privileges that have funneled my hard work into something plausible. TFAS has been one of those contributors to my success. It’s one thing to have a passion for international affairs, but to be given the opportunity to study policy, engage with leading political minds, and contribute in the nation’s capital is an invaluable gift. My summer interning with the Advocacy Project and engaging in the TFAS International Affairs Program Track helped me channel my interests and started me on my career path.
Before coming to D.C. I had some misconceptions about what it means to be interested in the political sphere. I’d certainly had my fair share of political debates in college, but I’d never been exposed to the breadth of ideas or types of speakers that I encountered in my classes at George Mason University. In my international economics class I learned about how America’s economic values are intersecting with, and in some ways crippling, our immigration policy. Dr. Bradley also helped me understand terrorism in a way that transcended racial bias and highlighted institutionalized injustice. I had some of the best conversations I’ve ever had about political theory and how we as young professionals should approach controversial topics.
I had a rewarding internship experience at the Advocacy Project, a nonprofit that works to strengthen community advocacy and fight injustice in the global south. The office environment was so welcoming and my supervisor worked with me to build projects that fit my professional goals while contributing to the organization in a meaningful way. I was also challenged to deliver on tasks I had never done before like video editing and budgeting. When I returned to college I noticed a powerful difference in my ability to connect with professionals and approach new opportunities.
Overall, I made some of my most cherished friendships and connections during my summer with TFAS. The friends I made shared my hunger for knowledge and my passion for constructive political discourse. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks at the Washington monument together, laughed and danced at Jazz in the Garden, and toured the heart of D.C. arm in arm. I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world and I’m still in contact with several of those people and others with whom I developed professional connections. I’m honored to have the chance to give back to this program and I hope you keep an open mind and make the most of every opportunity. Your future in D.C. is waiting, so go get it!
Follow Emily’s adventures in Washington, D.C. this summer on Instagram @dcinternationalaffairs.
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.