Barry McNamara  |  Published April 25, 2022

Donor Helps D.C. Duo

Monmouth students Ally Clay, Shay Hafner will experience career-building summer program in nation’s capital.

HEADED TO WASHINGTON: Shay Hafner (left) and Ally Clay will participate in this summer in The Fun... HEADED TO WASHINGTON: Shay Hafner (left) and Ally Clay will participate in this summer in The Fund for American Studies program in the nation's capital, following the path of other Monmouth students.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A year ago, Monmouth College student Shay Hafner ’23 was accepted into the prestigious Fund for American Studies summer program in Washington, D.C.

There was only one problem: he couldn’t afford it.

“I applied last year and got accepted, but I didn’t get much of a scholarship from the Fund for American Studies, and it’s expensive to live in D.C. and go to classes there,” said Hafner, who had heard about the program’s benefits through one of several recent Monmouth students to benefit from the experience, Hadley Smithhisler ’20.

Currently, Monmouth student Gabriela Peterson ’23 of Southwick, Massachusetts, is participating in a semester-long Fund for American Studies program in Washington.

“I wanted to apply again this year because it’s a really cool program and working in D.C. and taking classes there is cool, and I did get more money this year,” said Hafner, a political science and data science major from Sterling, Illinois.

“The impact of experiential learning opportunities such as the TFAS program on a student’s overall academic experience cannot be overstated,” said Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership & Fellowships Director Marnie Dugan ’95. “This type of opportunity not only stimulates academic inquiry, but also advances career development, cultural awareness, leadership and other professional skills.”

Some of Hafner’s funding came from a donor to the College, who anonymously stepped up to make the experience more affordable for Monmouth students.

The same was true for Ally Clay ’23, a public relations major from Jacksonville, Illinois, who was also accepted into this summer’s program. Clay learned she could afford the summer program when she got some good news from Dugan.

“The Fund for American Studies gave me a $3,000 scholarship, but when Marnie (Dugan) told me the school could give me an extra $3,000, I was like, ‘Oh, I can go now.’ I wouldn’t be going without it.” Ally Clay

“The Fund for American Studies gave me a $3,000 scholarship, but when Marnie told me the school could give me an extra $3,000, I was like, ‘Oh, I can go now,’” said Clay. “I wouldn’t be going without it.”

Hafner said that Scots’ generosity is “one of the things I love so much about Monmouth.”

“A lot of the donors haven’t met me and don’t know me personally, but they care enough about the school and the people who are going there to give their time and money. That means a lot,” he said. “I hope I can get to a point and do the same thing. That’s kind of what this school is all about.”

Preparation for grad school

Through the public policy and economics track of the two-month Fund for American Studies program, Clay and Hafner will take an economics class through George Mason University and be able to attend lectures, briefings and other events at the White House and the Capitol. They will have a summer internship, although their placement is yet to be determined.

Clay’s studies at Monmouth have her on a pre-law track – potentially to study at Washington University in St. Louis – and she knows from talking to Smithhisler and others that the Washington program will make her law school application stand out.

“I was able to connect with different alumni who did this program, and I know that some of them who are now in law school, it really helped them on their application,” said Clay. “I really wanted to do an internship for being pre-law, instead of just focused on public relations – something that would set me apart when applying to law school. And especially being able to go to D.C. and be in an area where all that happens in government, and where policy is made.”

“It’s going to be weird that I’m living away from home both summers, but it’s going to be a completely different environment. We’ll be living with people in the same position as us – students who care about the same things we do, which will be nice.” Shay Hafner

When Hafner didn’t get to go to the nation’s capital last summer, his Plan B was to stay in Monmouth for the College’s Doc Kieft Summer Research Program.

“It’s going to be weird that I’m living away from home both summers, but it’s going to be a completely different environment,” said Hafner, who plans to pursue a doctorate in political science after he graduates from Monmouth next May. “We’ll be living with people in the same position as us – students who care about the same things we do, which will be nice.”

In addition to their shared experience in Washington, both Clay and Hafner have participated in the College’s Stockdale Fellows leadership program and Fighting Scots athletics. Hafner is also an editor of the College’s Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, serves as a resident assistant in Winbigler Hall, is a Writing Center tutor and is on the executive board of two honor societies, serving as president of Alpha Lambda Delta and vice president of Blue Key.

Clay is actively involved in Kappa Kappa Gamma, serving every year on its leadership board, and has been on the Panhellenic Council executive board in addition to serving as a Scot Ambassador.

Listen Up …

On the 1853 Podcast, juniors Ally Clay and Shay Hafner talk about being accepted into the prestigious Fund for American Studies summer program (interview begins at 9:50).

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