Today I’m happy to report on the latest accomplishment of 2006 MALD graduate Cristiana Paşca Palmer.  I can do so thanks to the outreach of her 2006 classmate Cornelia (Connie) Schneider.

Pasca PalmerFirst, the news.  Cristiana was recently appointed Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Cristiana has a long record of accomplishment in the environment arena, and has been actively engaged in international climate talks.  After receiving her MALD, Cristiana stayed on at Fletcher for her PhD studies (receiving the degree in 2014), during which she had a fellowship with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.

This is the second time I’ve highlighted Cristiana’s accomplishments, both times because Connie, who is very accomplished herself(!), contacted me.  This is such a sweet tradition and finding Connie’s email message in my inbox this morning was a highlight of my day.  I love how alumni cheer for each other, both because such mutual support is wonderful, and also because it reminds me what a special community I am part of.

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One less-heralded benefit of applying by our November 15 Early Notification deadline is a rapid turnaround.  You’ll be hearing back from us before the end of December, less than six weeks after you first applied, keeping the amount of waiting time to a relative minimum.  Given the schedule, you may be wondering what the Admissions Office is up to, and I’m here to tell you.

Our first step toward releasing EN decisions was hiring and training the students who are full members of the Committee on Admissions.  They start their reading with EN applications, which provides a perfect small-batch learning/coaching opportunity for all of us.  We can take the time to offer comments and ensure that the new readers are on the right track.  As it happens, the students on this year’s committee are amazing!  Good news for the staff.

Once we have a committee, we start reading.  Every application is read twice, and then Laurie looks at all of them to ensure consistency from reader to reader.  When needed, we discuss applications in a full-committee setting that will include the professors on the committee.  Our EN meeting will be next Friday.  (Can’t wait!  LVE committee meetings!)  Nearly every application has already been read twice — we’re well on our way through the process.

From the perspective of a staff member (i.e., me), EN is great because it throws us into the heart of the admissions process, but with an application volume that enables us to test and, when necessary, improve systems before the January 10 flood of applications.  Next Friday’s meeting will help students calibrate their assessments of applicants.  Then in January, we’re in the best position for the process to go smoothly.

But none of that matters to you EN applicants.  What you need to know is simply that we are making great progress in completing the review of applications, and you’ll be hearing from us before the end of this month.

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The final trip of the Fletcher Admissions travel season was Laurie’s visit to Europe, which ended about two weeks ago.  The greatest distance was covered by Liz, when Fletcher joined several other schools for a trip to Southeast Asia.  Here’s her report, along with her photos.

In October, I participated in a great recruiting trip to Southeast Asia.  I traveled with colleagues from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, and Georgetown MSFS.  You may be wondering why we travel together, since we’re all competitors.  The answer is that for over forty years we’ve traveled together to inform students about educational and career opportunities in international affairs.  We know many students will end up applying to all four schools, and so we work together to get the word out about our programs and to recruit students from around the world.

Our first stop was in Singapore.  We had a day to recover from our 27-hour flight across the world and so two colleagues and I decided to head over to Sentosa, an island just off Singapore.  There are two ways to get to Sentosa: train or cable car.  We decided to check out the cable car so we could really see the island.

Here are a few snaps from our trip:

Sentosa

Lpdp

Liz (third from left), travel companions, and LPDP host.

We had great school visits at Yale-NUS and National University of Singapore — where I was thrilled to meet faculty of both schools who were Fletcher alumni!  It was neat to tour the Yale-NUS campus, as it’s so new, and so lush with vegetation!  From there we flew to Jakarta, Indonesia for visits at the EducationUSA Center (@America), meetings with LPDP (the Indonesia Endowment for Education) and school visits to the University of Indonesia and UPH (Universitas Pelita Harapan).

@AmericaVisit
We ended our trip in Bangkok, Thailand.  Our time in Thailand was solemn, as His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej had just passed away.  Because the trip had been planned well in advance, we still hosted events at Thammasat University, as well as with the U.S. Embassy, and were grateful for those who were able to join us, despite the timing.

Overall the trip was great!  We got to eat some wonderful food, meet fantastic prospective students, and continue to spread the word about international affairs graduate schools!

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If you’ve had your eye on the news about travel technology startups in the Boston area, you’ve already heard of Emily Bernard, a 2013 MALD graduate, who is the co-founder and chief brand officer of PlacePass.com, a travel technology startup based in Cambridge.  Emily describes PlacePass as a “metasearch engine that enables travelers to instantly compare hundreds of tour and activity websites simultaneously,” and says that, with PlacePass, “travelers can find high-quality local experiences in more than 180 destinations, and save money and time by booking online.”  You can read more about PlacePass and the local travel startup scene in the Boston Globe and on BostInno (an online resource for the local tech and startup community).  Today, Emily tells us how Fletcher prepared her for her current work.

Five Ways Fletcher Prepared Me to Be a Travel Entrepreneur

09/30/2016 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Head-shots of students, faculty, staff, and employers, for the purpose of LinkedIn photo. (Zara Tzanev for Tufts University)

Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask me about my path to PlacePass.  “What inspired you to establish a travel technology startup?”  “How did you decide this was the right opportunity?”  “What gave you the confidence to lead a startup organization?”  These are excellent, welcome questions — and not always easy to answer.

The truth is, like that of many entrepreneurs, my journey to PlacePass has been a winding one.  I’m still discovering how the narrative fits together.  I’m delighted and surprised by the ways my past experiences have aligned to bring me here.  But one thing is for certain: Fletcher is a key part of the story.

There are countless ways in which Fletcher prepared me for PlacePass.  I’ve gathered a few of them here, and am hopeful they will be useful for prospective Fletcher students interested in the wild, wonderful experience of entrepreneurship.

  1. Global Perspective

A global perspective is the hallmark of a Fletcher education.  From the diversity of the student body to the course offerings to international internships, Fletcher is constantly looking outwards.  This perspective has been essential in my role at PlacePass.  Though based in Cambridge, we are a global company, already serving more than 180 destinations.  Our strategic vision must take into account global trends, global tastes, and global risks.  We must consider how our brand and product offerings will be perceived in various markets and in diverse cultural settings.  I feel well-equipped to tackle these tough decisions because of my Fletcher education.

  1. Commitment to Sustainable, Inclusive Business Practices

From the start, my co-founder Ethan and I have been committed to sustainable, inclusive business practices.  We believe the travel industry has a key role to play in building more prosperous communities around the world.  My Fletcher education has given me the inspiration and tools I need to develop a comprehensive CSR strategy that contributes to the community in a meaningful way and sets us up for long-term success.  I’m very proud to share that, for every tour booked on PlacePass, we donate $1 to EGBOK, a non-profit in Cambodia that provides vocational training in hospitality for at-risk youth.  It’s a wonderful partnership and we look forward to expanding this initiative to other countries as PlacePass continues to grow.

  1. Industry Expertise

Fletcher’s highly flexible curriculum gives students the space to explore the industries, topics, and issues of interest to them.  For me, that was travel and hospitality, and during my Fletcher tenure I found many ways to strengthen my expertise in this area.  For example, I spent my summer internship at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, where I explored the economic and environmental impacts of World Heritage site designation.  In my thesis, advised by Professor Carolyn Gideon, I evaluated how Brand USA (the U.S. tourism promotion agency) markets our country to international visitors.  For a course on risk management, I studied how Arctic tour companies de-risk their voyages and work to ensure the safety of their passengers while preserving the perception of a high-adrenaline adventure.  In a course on leadership, I studied how managers of the Marriott Islamabad responded to a terrorist attack on the hotel.  And finally, in an entrepreneurship marketing class, I developed a marketing strategy for a culinary travel start-up.

  1. Project Management Capabilities

It’s all about execution for early-stage startups.  Founders must work with limited resources and limited time to bring their idea to fruition.  At PlacePass, that means I’m focused aggressively on good project management.  Whether we’re planning out a marketing campaign or developing a roadmap for the next iteration of our website, it’s essential that we plan and execute well.  At Fletcher I was able to develop very strong project management capabilities through group projects and by completing my thesis.

  1. The Fletcher Network

The strength of Fletcher’s alumni network is unparalleled.  It still amazes me how the Fletcher community comes together to provide answers, questions, connections, ideas, and inspiration.  This has been crucial for me at PlacePass on a number of fronts.  When I face a question or issue I can’t solve internally, I have an entire network of Fletcher colleagues ready to help point me in the right direction.  Traveling for work, I know that there will always be Fletcher friends or Fletcher connections willing to meet me and help me navigate a new city or culture.  Most importantly, my Fletcher classmates provide much-needed personal support as I pursue this venture.  It’s not easy starting a business, and I am grateful for and humbled by the encouragement and enthusiasm my classmates have demonstrated.

Emily and team

The PlacePass team (Emily, with Ethan Hawkes, co-founder, and Jeff Mathew, CTO) testing out virtual reality travel experiences in their Cambridge office.


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Shoe1Shoe2As I still have a large group of people coming over for dinner tonight, I will not join the U.S. tradition of shopping today.  But if you’re looking for shoes (or information about the entrepreneurial activities of Fletcher students), check out this story about second-year MALD student Peter Sacco and his new social enterprise, Adelante Shoe Co., which he is launching this month.  Peter notes that Adelante “is dedicated to making it absolutely effortless for you to buy a socially responsible pair of shoes without compromising on quality, style or affordability.”  His Kickstarter campaign starts today, and if you choose to buy a pair of shoes, you’ll be a member of Adelante’s Founders Club.  Or just check out the website and find out what Adelante is all about.

 

You’ll recall that a group of Fletcher students joined the climate discussions in Morocco earlier this month.  The Tufts Institute of the Environment asked a few of these delegates to write about their experience.  Here are two reports from second-year MALD students.

Fatima Quraishi

FatimaI am a second-year MALD student interested in international environment resource policy and climate change. While at COP22 in Morocco, I had the opportunity to attend several interesting discussions seeking to scale up renewable energy deployment and meet the 2-degree target if not the more ambitious 1.5 degree. This is in no way enough, and should be necessarily supplemented by the controversial phasing out of fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is one of the most powerful industries in the world and has an existential stake at COP22. They are also the party that has a huge role to play in workers’ welfare.

At the “Fossil fuel supply and climate policy: Key steps to enhance ambition” side event jointly organised by Stockholm Environment Institute, Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International, the speakers brought to light important research in the field of fossil fuels. They all stressed the importance of immediate action aimed at reducing carbon intensive lifestyles. It was stressed that if efforts are not made now, the world will lock in an even more heavily carbon intensive lifestyle thereby implying that the death of fossil fuels is certain. There is no greening of fossil fuel but only a complete phase out that will affect any change for climate.

Combustion of coal from federal lands accounts for more than 57 percent of all emissions from fossil-fuel production on federal lands. The Obama administration earlier this year ordered a moratorium on new leases for coal mined from federal lands which was heavily criticized by the fossil fuel industry and the Republicans. Expectedly this moratorium will be removed by the new administration.  China also placed a moratorium which most of the analysts believe is due to noncompetitive nature of coal than climate change.

Greg Muttitt, Senior Campaign Advisor, Oil Change International said that it’s necessary to affect a managed decline of fossil fuel which must be complemented by rapid increase in renewable energy production.  What wasn’t discussed was the need to reduce consumption as well. Behavioral change is the toughest to effect but forms an important component for responsible energy use. The Indian pavilion at COP22 can be credited to bring the theme of sustainable lifestyle to the fore. Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr. Anil Madhav Dave opined that it’s important to adopt sustainable practices to battle climate change. In another side event organized by India, stress was placed on the importance of education that has a transformative role to play for climate action. Education, formal and informal will form the bedrock of informed choices that consumers will have to take to tackle climate change.

As discussed above, the need is to implement several measures simultaneously at the individual, national and international level to combat this catastrophe. At this point it is crucial to reiterate the need for a just transition because there will be winners and losers and inclusivity demands that nobody is left behind! Transition must take place without crippling development. Brian Kohler, Director for sustainability, Industrial Global Union spoke about the areas to be addressed for just transition from the perspective of workers with a focus on sustainable industrial policy, social protection and labor adjustments.

The road ahead requires robust data on vulnerable workers disaggregated by gender, age, skillsets, personal needs and requirements and education that would prove useful. Important questions need to be posed and answered like what kind of training and education do the workers need to undergo? How will they be trained? Is there chance of displacement? Would just transition conditions delay climate action? How would fossil fuel industry transition? A transitionary program  needs to be implemented to provide the workforce with education, skills, finance and whatever help they need in the interim. Lessons from the reconstruction of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall could be the starting point of research for a sustainable future for everyone.

And finally addressing the question of whether the fossil fuel interests should be at the heart of the discussion of their future at COP22. In the past fossil fuel interests have lobbied heavily against any productive action against climate action and has also funded researchers and think tanks to come up with a counter discourse. But would that apprehension be enough to cut them off from the discussion? Important lessons were learned when the tobacco industry lobbied against WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The lesson was in the form of Article 5.3 of this Convention that recognized the conflicting interest with tobacco industry and thereby limited its engagement and influence. This Article also prohibited accepting any funds from the tobacco industry. There are a number of opinions online which advocate similar provisions under UNFCCC for the same purpose. Last year, outrage was expressed at COP21 being financed by heavy polluters but the justification was need based as green companies did not have enough capital to fund the conference.

There are conflicting opinions shared by governments and civil societies about their inclusion in the negotiations for reasons of conflict of interest and on the other side openness and transparency.  World Coal Association and many coal oil and gas industries ride the backs of Business Associations and Council to get an entry to many negotiations. Currently their observer status batch does not allow them to attend most of the sensitive negotiations but is that an effective check on the power of these lobbies? Sovereign states are well within their rights to make them a part of their party delegation that gets them access to all negotiations. Saudi Aramco is heavily represented in the Saudi Arabia delegation. Therefore, only time will tell how much cooperation or disruption they cause.

Considering we need a dialogue with all stakeholders to craft solutions for the future, it is important that we refrain from forming an echo chamber where fossil fuel industry is not included. This may prevent them from lobbying to get their way with governments in clandestine way.


Julio Rivera Alejo

JuanAt The Fletcher School I am concentrating in international energy and environmental policy with a special focus on climate policy. Before Fletcher I worked for Sustainlabour, an international foundation that works with trade unions all around the world in sustainable development issues. As part of this work I actively participated at COP20 in Lima, the round of negotiations that laid the foundation for the Paris Agreement next year at COP21. At COP20 we mobilize and worked with Peruvian’s trade unions to take a leading role amongst civil society actors participating at the negotiations in Lima.

During last summer, I worked as an intern for the United Nations Global Compact’s Climate Team in New York. The UN Global Compact climate team closely works with businesses all over the world helping them to take climate action. Today I keep collaborating with them through my Capstone Project at Fletcher. I am producing for them a research paper on the role of the private sector in the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by the countries in the context of the Paris Agreement.

In this regard, attending COP 22 has constituted a great opportunity for advancing my research. More than closely following the actual negotiations, I was more interested in attending different side events addressing the link between non-state actors climate actions and the NDCs and the Paris Agreement. The presentations by different experts in the field at these side events provided me with insightful and valuable information and direction for my research.  Furthermore, my attending the conference granted me the opportunity to personally interview some of these experts. Interestingly, one of the persons that I ended up interviewing and whose contribution was most valuable for my research was not among my initially targeted experts. I met her by total chance at one of the events I was attending. She was in the public, like me, and I noticed her when she asked a question during the Q&A directly related with my research, a question that I was going to ask!

As for the actual negotiations, COP22 is about implementing the Paris Agreement. Carbon accounting, financing and the facilitative mechanism will be the main issues this. However, more than analyzing the negotiations in detail, I would like to focus on the Global Climate Action Agenda. Previously, COPs have eminently been an intergovernmental process with non-state actors playing an essential observer role. But in Lima, the Global Climate Action Agenda was launched (back then it was known as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda), which main goal was to empower non-state actors as a key player in climate action. At COP22 we can see how the Global Climate Action Agenda has flourished, where many non-state actors attending the conference and presenting their commitments and showing their commitment towards climate action. Personally, seeing this makes me very optimistic about the Paris Agreement. Signed and ratified, it is time for implementation, and non-state actors (cities, businesses, regions, civil society) have a key role to play here.

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It isn’t that I love only the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  I love the lead-up to it, too.  From the weekend onward, folks can be seen pulling suitcases along the sidewalk on their way to somewhere.  Chatter about the weather gives way to questions about Thanksgiving plans.  Newspapers dedicate space to discussion of how to put together a complicated meal, for those who only do so once each year.

Turkey2Each year before Thanksgiving, I like to pause and thank Admissions Blog readers for giving me a forum to talk about my favorite holiday, as well as more admissions-relevant topics.  I never forget that the decision to attend graduate school is one that our students take seriously and make only after much consideration.  I’m happy that I can play a small role in helping them with their decision making.

TurkeyEarlier this week, students set up a little crafts center and invited the community to make a hand turkey with a comment or wish on it.  Anyone who was in school in the U.S. for preschool or the early grades will recognize these.  Trace your hand and decorate the shape to look like a turkey.  Anyway, the turkey messages in the Hall of Flags were very sweet, as was the very idea of creating an activity that would be silly and fun — a quick distraction from all the academic deliverables that students are getting ready to produce in the roughly four weeks that remain of the semester.  The turkeys were put together on a “Wall of Gratitude,” positioned a short distance from the boxes collecting contributions for the Fletcher Food Drive.

PieSpeaking of deliverables, my task for today is to bake bake bake.  My objective is roughly the same as it was a few years back when I took this photo.  Add an apple pie and swap out a cranberry pie for cranberry ginger cake, and I think that should do it.  We’ll have 14 folks (including a recent Fletcher grad) and one baby over for dinner tomorrow.  And then 17 on Friday!  I won’t need to worry about eating leftovers after that.

Wishing all our readers a happy Thanksgiving, with good food and friends or family!

(The Admissions Office will be closed tomorrow and Friday.  We’ll be back Monday morning, as usual.)

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Student Stories writer McKenzie writes today about an activity with which she’s involved this fall — an activity that you can join in, too!

It seems like just yesterday that we started the fall semester.  Yet here we are, with fewer than 10 days until December and 25 days until the end of the fall semester.

As the saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun,” and fun I’ve been having!  While Fletcher has no shortage of hectic weeks, it also offers ample opportunities to pursue activities specifically related to my career focus.  With this in mind, I want to take a minute to tell you about a great opportunity to join the Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) team, which competes in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition each year, and ask for your help.

What is MIINT?

The MIINT is an experiential learning program designed to give students at business and graduate schools a hands-on education in impact investing.  As a member of FSIG’s team this year, I’m helping to source, screen, diligence, and ultimately pitch an early-stage social venture to an investment committee in April at the Wharton School.  The winning team’s company will receive up to $50,000 towards a total funding round of $250,000 to $1,000,000.  While preparing for the competition, we also complete a series of eight online learning modules developed by the MIINT’s main sponsors, Bridges Ventures and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.  It’s a great opportunity to step into the shoes of an impact investor and get first-hand experience identifying and valuing prospective investments.

What kind of companies is this year’s MIINT team looking for?

The MIINT program experience exposes us to the challenges associated with scaling impact investing — specifically, sourcing financially, socially, and environmentally attractive deals.  To do this, our team is leveraging Fletcher’s uniquely international network to identify sustainable business models that efficiently deliver key products or services, and improve quality of life for individuals in emerging markets.  For more information, check out our investment thesis here.

Excited? Here’s how you can help before even getting to Fletcher:

We have just three weeks left to source the best deals possible before identifying a shortlist of companies on which to conduct due diligence.  If you or those in your network know of any companies that meet the investment criteria described on our website, we’d love to consider them for investment.  The website also provides more information about our team.

Tell interested companies to complete our contact form as soon as possible to be considered for funding!

Note: Supporting FSIG’s MIINT team is voluntary and has no bearing on admissions decisions to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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Our final post from a new Student Stories writer comes from Mariya, a recipient of a Pickering Fellowship that helps her fund her education in return for a commitment to join the U.S. Foreign Service.

MariyaGreetings from one of my favorite study spaces at The Fletcher School: the ultra-quiet “Hogwarts Room” at Fletcher’s Ginn Library.  I am surrounded by neatly stacked books, brightly lit lamps, students hard at work, and former deans looking down at us — either admiring our dedication or secretly laughing.  I can never tell.

But what I can tell you is who I am and why I am here.  My name is Mariya Ilyas and I am first-year MALD student.  I was born in Pakistan, moved to the United States with my family at age eight, and grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, just seven miles south of the nation’s capital.  The proximity to Washingtonian politics, exposure to diverse people and cultures, and having a dual identity cemented my interest in international affairs from an early age.  I am grateful to the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which will allow me to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a U.S. diplomat and serving my country in a meaningful way.

I am here to share with you my experiences at Fletcher over the next two years.  I enjoy blogging because writing for an audience allows me to process and reflect on my experiences, while also growing from them.  As I navigate my Fletcher journey, my goal is to not just share the immense opportunities that are available at this school, but to also analyze how those opportunities are contributing to my personal growth and preparing me for my career.  I hope that my entries will provide prospective students with another point to consider as they explore graduate school options.  I also hope to look back on these posts in 2018 and reflect on my personal and professional development.

I came to Fletcher with a diverse set of experiences.  I studied mathematics, sociology, and government at Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts college in the town of Brunswick, Maine.  My time at Bowdoin prepared me for many “real world” challenges, including the New England winters — which became particularly handy when I took up a job in Boston after graduation.  As a product analyst for Liberty Mutual Insurance, a fortune-100 company, I analyzed insurance data and implemented projects to increase growth and probability in the state of Kentucky.  After gaining valuable business and financial skills, I switched gears from the corporate world to the public sector.  Last year, I taught English in Antalya, Turkey through the U.S. Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program.  This nine-month fellowship allowed me to appreciate a different culture, learn a new language, and get a glimpse of what it is like to live abroad.  My extensive travels showed me the rich history of Turkey and the country’s breathtaking beauty, as well as the strength and hospitality of its people.  Lastly, my internships at The White House and the U.S. Department of State (Pakistan Desk) exposed me to my future workplace: a complex federal bureaucracy with humble public servants.

This semester, my classes include Role of Force, International Organizations, Petroleum in the Global Economy, Arts of Communication, and a yearlong EPIIC Colloquium, hosted by the Tufts Institute of Global Leadership.  Although I plan to concentrate in International Security Studies and Global Maritime Studies, my strategy for graduate coursework is to expose myself to as many different disciplines and topics as possible — Foreign Service Officers are generalists, after all.

Outside the classroom, I am involved in activities that push me out of my comfort zone, challenge my assumptions, and help me develop new skills.  I am a member of the Arctic Initiative and the improv group, co-leader of Fletcher Students of Color & Allies, and co-leader of the Fletcher Islamic Society (which I helped re-establish this year).  I am also conducting research for the U.S. State Department’s Diplomacy Lab under Professor Eileen Babbitt and helping fundraise for the Arctic and Energy conferences coming up in February 2017.  In addition to these ongoing activities, I enjoy participating in opportunities that add to my learning.  For example, I was one of 40 students who represented Fletcher at the Arctic Circle Assembly Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland; I played the role of Turkey’s interior minister at this year’s SIMULEX, and I gave a TEDx-style speech about blogging as a way to bridge the academic-policy gap at the Fletcher Idea Exchange.  I’ve also signed up for impromptu activities such as participating in cultural nights, hosting a Fletcher Feast, or attending Professor Hess’s annual picnic.  This might seem like an overwhelming set of commitments — and at times, it can be — but if there’s one thing I have learned at Fletcher, it is that Fletcher students are exceptionally good at juggling their commitments, and that being a part of 15 things simultaneously is the norm rather than the exception.

Mariya2I have been at Fletcher for almost three months now, and I could not be happier.  I remember my uncle, a retired Pakistani bureaucrat, once told me that the Pakistani Government used to send its entire corps of young foreign service officers to Fletcher because of its reputation and approach to the study of international affairs.  I now understand what my uncle meant.  In the short time that I have been here, I feel proud to be a part of a vigorous, yet modest, community of scholars dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems through interdisciplinary approaches and an international perspective.  It was not just the world-class reputation that drew me to Fletcher, however; I was also attracted to the School’s flexible curriculum (including cross-registration at Harvard), diverse student body (each of my four roommates represents a different country), and the quality of its alumni network.  But above all, I chose Fletcher for its caring community.

I would like to share an anecdote to illustrate my last point about the caring community.  In April 2015, I was faced with a dilemma: to enroll in graduate school or defer my admission to pursue the Fulbright Scholarship.  I called the Fletcher Admissions Office to seek advice, and spoke with Dean of Admissions Laurie Hurley.  Much to my surprise, she said, “Graduate school will always be here.”  She encouraged me to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Turkey because she believed it was the best move for my professional and personal development.  In that moment I realized the Fletcher community was genuinely committed to my success.  Looking back now, deferring my admission was one of the best decisions I made, because teaching in Turkey prepared me for a richer educational experience and world perspective — and I have the Fletcher community itself to thank for that.

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The second post from new Student Stories writers comes from Pulkit, who has taken a multi-step path from an engineering degree to Fletcher.

Pulkit2Hello!  My name is Pulkit Aggrwal and I am a first-year MALD student from India.  I am excited to share my Fletcher journey with all of you.  I am interested in writing for the Admissions Blog because, as I share my story, I will be able to reflect and critically analyze my thoughts during my time at Fletcher.  At the same time, I hope these stories will resonate with readers, who themselves are either trying to discover new fields of study or explore uncharted territories, and I hope that it will give them the confidence to try and experiment.  I also hope that, at the end of two years of my program, when I read these posts and look back at my journey, I will see how much I have learned, how much I have grown as a person, and how far I have come.

I was brought up in Chandigarh, a city north of New Delhi, a capital of two Indian states, and a city designed by the French architect Le Corbusier.  I studied engineering as an undergraduate.  Specifically, I studied electronics and electrical communication engineering.  After graduating, I worked with McKinsey and Company as an analyst in the high tech and telecommunications industry vertical.  I worked for clients across the consumer electronics, telecommunication, software, and IT services value chain.

After McKinsey, I joined a hospital in an administrative capacity, working on business development and strategy.  During this time, I tried to enter into the Indian Civil Services as a foreign service officer.  In order to make a contribution to my community, I volunteered as a teacher with a children’s not-for-profit organization called Make A Difference.  As a teacher, for about four years, I was associated with Ashiana, a shelter home for underprivileged children, where I worked, mentored, and taught children aged six to 18 years.  Later, I was selected as a Global Shaper Under 30 — an initiative of the World Economic Forum — where I worked on community issues related to urban mobility, gender empowerment, and community leadership.  These experiences shaped my interest in international affairs and development.  It is then that I decided to pursue graduate studies, to build an understanding of key international issues and develop a complementary skill set in law and economics.

At Fletcher, I am currently pursuing courses in International Security Studies, International Organizations, Human Security, and Development Economics.  These fields are intricately tied to each other.  I hope to concentrate on two out of the four Fields of Study and bring in key elements from the other two so as to have a complete perspective.  Coming from a physical sciences background, it is huge step for me as I make a transition and pursue studies in social sciences.  It is also a steep learning process as I get introduced to new subjects, terminology and their inter-linkages.

To add an international language to my skill set, I am auditing elementary French at the Olin Language Center here at Tufts.  Outside of class, I am involved in a few activities and societies at Fletcher.  I am a print staff editor for The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs and I volunteer with the Admissions Office.  I am also working on a land rights project with the Harvard Law and International Development Society.

It has been three months since I moved to Boston and started school, and Fletcher has exceeded all my expectations.  More than the curriculum, it is the people I have met and the constructive challenges that I have faced that have made my graduate student life so interesting and enjoyable.  I have just embarked on this journey.  There is so much happening all the time that I feel like I live a lifetime every day.  No day is the same.  I enjoy facing these challenges and tackling them one at a time.  As I gear up for the final month of my first semester at Fletcher, I look forward to sharing more from my learning and experiences.

Scenes from Fletcher Asia Night event

Scenes from Fletcher Asia Night event

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