When Anna Pittman first laid eyes on the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Institute, and the stately monuments of Washington, D.C. during a third-grade trip to the nation’s capital, she told everyone in her Girl Scout Troop that she would work in that city one day.
Thanks to her sterling reputation as a bright, driven leader with a servant’s heart – and some deft campaigning by a loving aunt – the Mississippi College student will have the opportunity to make her prediction a reality this summer.
The sophomore marketing major and servant leadership and graphic design minor from Hattiesburg has received a scholarship to participate in the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) program, with an accompanying internship in the office of Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Pittman is calling her return trip to the nation’s capital a “summer of a lifetime.”
“You can’t put a price on the experiences that will be offered to me,” Pittman said. “I’m 100 percent committed to taking full advantage of this opportunity. Even if I don’t work on Capitol Hill one day, I’ll get a special appreciation for all the things the people who run our political system do on a daily basis.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to get my foot in the door in Washington, D.C.”
Pittman will soon meet the seven other students from Mississippi State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Mississippi who will also be serving as interns in Hyde-Smith’s office. They’ll correspond with constituents, make sure all mail is received and answered, maintain communication with other Congressional offices, run various errands, and even attend Congressional sessions.
As part of her leadership scholarship with TFAS, an educational nonprofit organization that teaches the principles of limited government, free-market economics, and honorable leadership, Pittman will also take classes in economics and public policy on the campus of George Mason University while staying on the George Washington University campus.
Her faculty mentors at MC are convinced she will represent her home University well.
“Everything that I have witnessed from Anna, there has been this desire to devote her fullness to any endeavor,” said Dr. Jonathan Ambrose, associate vice president for student experience and dean of students at MC. “That is not something that I have witnessed in many people, much fewer college students.
“I am extremely excited for Anna’s future. The program is only going to be a launchpad for her.”
Dr. J. Brandon Bolen, assistant professor of economics at MC, said Pittman would be a “great ambassador” for Mississippi College.
“Anna is a great example of the types of students that Mississippi College produces – thoughtful, bright, and hardworking,” Bolen said. “During her time in Washington, D.C., her success will increase the likelihood that more of our students will have similar opportunities in the future.”
Pittman’s opportunity to experience a memorable summer didn’t fully materialize without some family assistance. After securing her spot in the TFAS program, Pittman needed to apply for a Congressional internship. That’s when her aunt, a resident of the Washington, D.C. area, stepped in to help.
“She forwarded my information to some of her colleagues, and my resume ended up at the Senator’s office,” Pittman said. “They reviewed my application and asked me to contact them.
“I had prayed it would become evident that I was supposed to go to Washington. Because I got the TFAS scholarship and everything worked out with the internship, I was able to know this was what I was supposed to do.”
With a “huge burden” lifted off her shoulders, Pittman will have the opportunity to see what life in one of the world’s leading metropolitan areas is really about as she follows a course set by notable TFAS alumni such as David Muir, ABC World News Tonight anchor, Mark Levin, radio and television personality, and Stephen F. Hayes, former editor-in-chief of the Weekly Standard.
“This program has assisted in the careers of many notable TFAS alumni,” Pittman said. “Several state and national representatives are TFAS alumni. The networking opportunities through the program alone, aside from the knowledge to be gained from the courses – you can’t begin to put a price on what it can do for your career.
“On my application, I said I was looking forward to experiencing a new atmosphere. I really enjoy MC, but when you can branch out and be exposed to other people, especially in a metropolitan area, you get to experience a lot of new things. And I’m excited to do that.”
She’ll get to expand her academic boundaries as well, taking a deeper dive into economics and policy for transferable credit to her major at MC.
“I have developed an interest and an appreciation for those subjects and how they apply to everyday life,” she said. “The classes will allow me to learn more about current issues in the nation’s capital.”
Best of all, with more than 300 students in the TFAS program, she’ll have the opportunity to build relationships that could serve her well in the future.
“There will be a lot of opportunities to get to know one another through shared housing, networking events, and other outings,” she said. “TFAS often has representatives and alumni come to speak to students during class.
“I’m hoping to see other state representatives we have in Washington. There’s no telling what speakers I’ll get to hear at these events.”
Ambrose said the relationships Pittman will build can only be helpful to her in the future.
“Interning for a U.S. Senator is an unbelievable opportunity, and the people that she will meet and forge relationships with are something that will serve her well as she graduates from MC,” he said. “By Anna’s acceptance into this prestigious program and with students being sent into places like Washington, D.C., others get the opportunity to see the personification of who Mississippi College really is, through our students.”
As the only TFAS representative from Mississippi College, Pittman said she would like for her fellow Choctaws to consider applying to the program in the future.
“I know I’ll be representing our University and our state while I’m in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “It’s a lot to uphold, but if I continue to work hard, I would like to think I would represent us well.
“I would encourage others from our University to take opportunities like this. Our University has the same credentials that other large universities have. We have the talent. We have the knowledge. We can be just as successful as anyone else.”