TFAS Alumni Profile – Ka’Lon Duncanson ’23

Introducing TFAS alumnus Ka’Lon Duncanson ’23 from Freeport, Bahamas. Ka’Lon’s transformative summer in Washington, D.C., as part of the Business + Government Relations track, illuminated the nexus of business strategy and public policy in a dynamic and immersive way.

🎓 University: University of Southern Mississippi
📚 Major: Marketing
📍 Hometown: Freeport, Bahamas
🧭 Program Track: Business + Government Relations
💼 Internship: Caterpillar, Inc.

What was the most interesting thing you did at your internship?

Ka’Lon at the World Trade Center in downtown Washington, D.C.

The highlight of my internship was attending a panel discussion at the Business Roundtable, featuring executives from leading U.S. companies. During the event, I had the opportunity to meet the Business Roundtable Vice President and Head of Advocacy, who has significant connections to the Bahamas, my homeland. This encounter deepened my comprehension of the intricate relationship between the business and government sectors.

The insights gained from this experience will play a pivotal role in shaping my future career goals, serving as a constant reminder to maintain a forward-thinking mindset and emphasizing the significance of collaborative efforts across multiple businesses.

What did you like most about living in Washington, D.C.?

Kayaking on the Potomac River.

Having spent two months in D.C., I’ve developed a fondness for the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. What stood out to me the most was the convenience of my short commute to my internship at Caterpillar and the proximity to some of the finest restaurants and social spots. The diversity and vibrant social scene in the area were particularly appealing. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in various cultures, experiencing different music, cuisines and dances during my time in D.C.

One specific memory that encapsulates the essence of living in D.C. is a weekend spent with a group of students exploring the city and indulging in the rich cultural offerings. We ventured into the Caribbean, Hispanic, American, Italian, and African cultures through food and music. Following a delightful experience at the Swahili Village, an exceptional African restaurant, as I strolled back to George Washington University, I found myself contemplating the idea of making D.C. my long-term home.

How did you grow professionally during your time in Washington, D.C.?

Lunch meeting with Rep. John James on Capitol Hill.

I enhanced my professional communication skills significantly. I seized numerous opportunities to send correspond with various personnel within the company, conveying greetings and expressing gratitude on behalf of the department.

My main contacts in the Government Affairs Office at Caterpillar, Inc. served as valuable points of interaction, offering feedback on some of my work. Two individuals, in particular, Nate Smith and my supervisor Katie Hayes, played pivotal roles in influencing my professional growth through their experiences and guidance.

What was your favorite TFAS event?

Business + Government Relations Leadership Team at The Braver Angels Debate.

The Braver Angels Debate was the standout TFAS event for me. Beyond my active participation in the debate, it became my favorite due to the highly respectful and detailed discussions among the Business + Government Relations students.

The debate sparked numerous thought-provoking questions, showcasing the professionalism and passion of those present in the room. In instances where opinions differed, we embraced the principle of agreeing to disagree.

Being in the company of some of the brightest students in the nation during this event brought me genuine happiness and inspiration.

What advice do you have for future TFAS students?

Ka’Lon addressing TFAS students during the Closing Ceremony.

For future students, my suggestion is to make the most of every moment.

  • Time flies, so begin networking from day one.
  • Invest in a planner; with numerous activities and attractions in D.C., planning your free time efficiently is crucial.
  • Allocate time for studying and homework, completing tasks promptly will afford you more time for social activities.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone. Initiate conversations, as people are generally warm and willing to share.