Széll Kálmán Fellows Shine and Showcase their Talent in Washington

by | Dec 18, 2018 | News, Széll Kálmán Fellowship

This year, HIF proudly launched the Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellowship, a full scholarship for students from Hungary to participate in The Fund for American Studies’ internship programs in Washington DC. Our fall Széll Kálmán Fellows, Dorka Takácsy and Zoltán Szücs participated in the Capital Semester on Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program which is co-organized by The Fund for American Studies and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

Széll Kálmán Fellows Zoltán Szücs and Dorka Takácsy with HIF Chairman April Foley at the program’s Graduation Ceremony

It was an amazing, an unbelievably dynamic and intense program that gave me an opportunity for networking, picking up more factual knowledge, and extend my fields of interest and professional development at the same time. – Dorka Takácsy

The Capital Semester Program helps define and strengthen the participants leadership skills and learn lessons from the American Presidency, all while giving an insider’s view of Washington through an internship placement. Dorka and Zoltán spent 15 weeks in the nation’s capital with students from around the country and the world who are passionate about making a difference through strong leadership.

The intensive and immersive program schedule is designed to maximize time in Washington by combining academic courses provided by George Mason University with practical professional experience and special events with prominent public leaders.

The fellowship program exceeded all my previous expectations. For me, the strongest pillar was the academic part: our International Economic Policy and Leadership and the American Presidency courses were extremely useful and eye-opening. The courses included several readings and assignments, I enjoyed all of these and they really helped us improve our knowledge. – Zoltán Szücs

I understood better the American democracy’s working, the different history and powers of institutions. And the political economy course made me look at a number of issues from an utterly different light. – Dorka Takácsy

Zoltán Szücs received the program’s Excellence in Media Studies Award

Through the program, Dorka interned at the National Defense University and Zoltán spent his internship at the Daily Caller News Foundation.

My internship provided a great insight into the everyday operation of an American media outlet, my supervisors explained me very well how a news publication should be marketed in the United States. Most of the site briefings were also great and interesting. – Zoltán Szücs

Zoltán had the opportunity to try his hand in journalism covering various aspects of American society and political developments: click here to read his pieces published by the Daily Caller.  Thanks to CEPA and Brian Whitmore, host of the popular Power Vertical podcast, Dorka had the chance to record a podcast together with Andrássy Fellow Krisztián Jójárt on Moscow’s Asymmetrical Complex and the historical context of Russia’s geopolitical aspirations.

In Washington, DC the program took them to site visits the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Cato Institute, the International Republican Institute, the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Press Club, the British Embassy, Central Kitchen Service, the McCain Institute, and the World Bank where they had an opportunity to engage with a policy makers and opinion leaders in Washington.

Our classes, site briefings and the internship experience really showed me how bipartisanship works and what bridges we can build; the everyday political news were a great illustration to this during the semester. We understood the different dynamics of the political life of the United States, how campaings work, what the media does, what incentives politicians have. – Zoltán Szücs

Pictured above: site visits to the National Press Club and the studio of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Show 

The program also included tours outside of Washington, DC to historic sites relevant to America’s founding  and history such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Lincoln Cottage, James Madison’s Montpelier.

Széll Kálmán Fellows with Capital Semester Program participants at James Madison’s Montpelier

To complement their experience, HIF hosted a reading seminar on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America focusing on the importance of civil society and religious freedom as vitally important aspects of  American democracy. For Zoltán, it was “the art of associations and the role of bottom-up initiatives in the political system” that were the most important lessons learned through reading  Tocqueville.

My key takeaway is that civil society has to be helped and promoted as their role is much more layered and widespread than most people think, and their role is crucial in building a well functioning democracy. – Dorka Takácsy

Read more about the fellows experiences here and here.


We are now accepting applications for the Summer Széll Kálmán Fellowship.
Visit our program page to learn more about the summer program and application process.

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