TFAS Summer 2020 in Review – A Summer Like No Other!

Students logged into the program from than 40 different states.

This summer, a dynamic group of nearly 200 students representing 124 colleges and universities across the country joined TFAS Virtual Summer Program.

These young leaders from more than 40 states spent two months taking online upper-level courses at George Mason University taught by outstanding TFAS faculty on subjects including “Economies in Transition,” “Economic Problems and Public Policies,” “U.S. Foreign Policy” and more.

In addition to their coursework, students attended virtual guest lectures and site briefings while interning remotely at leading think tanks, policy organizations, media outlets and nonprofits in the nation’s capital.

In his opening remarks, The Fund for American Studies President Roger Ream encouraged this year’s cohort to explore new ideas and form lasting connections with their classmates as they embraced our D.C. Summer Program’s first-ever virtual format. By the end of the summer, Roger’s words proved true for these incredible students.

Leadership Scholar Noelle Boyd ’20 said that these experiences have challenged her to expand her thinking in new ways.

“I think back on the many impressionable guest lectures through TFAS and my professors that I was exposed to this summer, from Mr. Doug Brandow, Mr. Jonatan Vseviov and Ms. Rachel Farrell, and the wonderful professional and personal development talks with Dr. Jayme Lemke and Mrs. Karith Foster,” Boyd recalled. 

During the program, students participated in 431 meetings, 17 webinars and logged 8,990 hours on Zoom.

“My mind and the way that I think about some of the world’s most pressing issues, both here at home and in light of America’s presence abroad, as well as my own place in them, has forever been challenged, expanded and shaped for the things that I will face ahead.”

Noelle Boyd ’20

She also shared the impact of the TFAS Mentor Program on her experience this summer. A recent graduate of New York University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a minor in global health studies, Boyd welcomed the opportunity to hear firsthand career advice from her mentor Brittney May ’13, who currently serves as deputy White House liaison at the State Department.

“I asked her a million and one questions about her life and career on the Hill, as well as where she believes her own path is taking her,” Boyd said. “The wisdom that she had to share and the encouragement she has offered me only solidifies the necessity of risk and the confidence to chase after the change you wish to see.”

Classmate Breely Peterson ’20 agreed that this summer’s guest lectures and networking opportunities have inspired her to pursue her ultimate career goals. Peterson’s internship with Running Start, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that trains young women to run for public office, reinforced her passion to pursue a career on Capitol Hill.

“I always wanted to work on Capitol Hill and would love to be in D.C., but this summer has fueled that fire more than I ever imagined and now I am doing everything in my power to be able to walk through those doors next year. I have gotten in contact with so many people from Capitol Hill who have given me such amazing advice and connections. If I do get to actually enter the doors of Congress next year, it will be due in part to TFAS and all of the opportunities it has afforded me.”

Breely Peterson ’20

TFAS Leadership Scholar Jordan Jantzen ’20 also believes that his summer with TFAS has exposed him to career opportunities that he otherwise would not have considered. A rising senior at Colorado Christian University, Jantzen said that his TFAS experience has allowed him to explore several opportunities before deciding which path best suits him. 

TFAS students shared photos of their hometowns with each other. Pictured here is Ella Kramer ’20 outside City Hall in Meridian, ID.

“The TFAS experience opened my eyes to so many opportunities, but most importantly, to what I want to do with my career and what I definitely don’t want to do. I have a new sense of clarity that I did not have at the beginning of the summer. I am very excited for what is next and TFAS has only helped further prepare me for the future.” 

Jordan Jantzen ’20

During the 2020 TFAS Virtual Summer closing ceremony, students heard remarks from their TFAS classmates, faculty and staff, as well as a keynote address from alumna Jennifer Hale ’99, who shared the importance of being prepared in the face of life’s most difficult challenges. 

A participant of the TFAS Journalism + Communications program track in 1999, Hale shared how her TFAS internship helped propel her career as a sideline reporter for FOX Sports in ways she never thought possible. 

Hale also shared with the students how in 2016 she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the muscles of the heart. Through this experience, Hale learned the importance of being prepared for life’s greatest challenges. 

“During that time, I got some really great advice about blooming where you’re planted, taking the situation that you’re given, and finding a way to use it to your advantage. It certainly taught me patience, the value of seizing the day, and that you only get one shot to leave your mark on this world and you do not want to waste it.” 

Jennifer Hale ’99

During this year’s closing ceremony, D.C. Summer Programs participants officially joined a global network of more than 18,000 TFAS alumni. Though this summer’s program could not be held in person, TFAS will be a lasting resource for these students as they embark on changing the world around them through honorable leadership. 

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