In the first of the Student Stories posts for 2016-2017, McKenzie reports on her internship in Johannesburg, South Africa this past summer.

Howzit future Fletchies!  It was great to return to town after three months in South Africa this summer (or winter, as it happened to be in the southern hemisphere).

Living in Johannesburg, I worked at Edge Growth to expand the 10X-entrepreneur (10X-e) program for scale-up or growth-stage startups across South Africa.  Through my job, I helped develop materials for 10X-e bootcamps and facilitated one-on-one growth strategy and execution workshops for portfolio companies of Edge’s flagship impact fund, the Vumela Fund.  I also got to support the Vumela Fund directly, helping strategize pipeline development and deal sourcing efforts and contributing to the due diligence of a prospective investment.

Fletcher students use their internship to accomplish a number of different goals.  Some use it to “test out” a new career field or to gain practical skills in a specific area, others to explore a new region of the world, and still others to conduct research for capstones.  Through my internship, I reaffirmed my interest in pursuing a career in impact investing and gained experience working alongside a fund investing in growth-stage companies in an emerging market setting.

McKenzieBut summer internships aren’t only for professional growth — I took the opportunity to travel and see as much as possible of South Africa over weekends and public holidays.  I attended braais (like barbeques), where I feasted with friends on grilled meats and braaibroodjes (pretty much a grilled cheese sandwich with onions and tomato), while discussing local politics and the municipal elections that were to take place in August.  I attended my first-ever rugby match to watch South Africa’s beloved Springboks take on the Irish (and win!).  I explored food markets in the reviving central business district of Jo’burg.  I visited the sobering apartheid museum to steep myself in the rich yet horrifying past, and did yoga on Constitution Hill (a former prison and now the site of South Africa’s Constitutional Court), in honor of Mandela Day.

I was also able to travel to both Cape Town and Durban in the course of my work, and spent time hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head or dipping my toes in the Indian Ocean after facilitating workshops for some of Vumela Fund’s portfolio companies.  Finally, while in Tanzania for a separate project with an Omidyar Network portfolio company, I met up with a classmate working in Arusha to take a short safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed my summer and was able to find the perfect mix of professional experience and personal growth.  While I was sad to leave a country I was only just beginning to know, I’m excited to be back at Fletcher and kicking off my second year.  At the same time, I know that each semester goes by in the blink of an eye and I am trying to savor every day.  For those of you looking to begin grad school this time next year, remember to enjoy the next eight-to-ten months, in between drafting your personal statements and updating your résumé.  The time will be gone before you know it!

The photo is from my favorite hike in South Africa (so far — I hope I’ll get back for more one day…).  It shows me halfway up the India Venster trail on Table Mountain, with a view of Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean in the background among the mist and clouds.

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One of the best aspects of my job is working with Fletcher students.  And of the different projects on which I work with students, my favorite is the blog.  I’m very happy to be ready to relaunch the Student Stories blog feature.  Each year since the series was launched in 2012, I’ve invited students to tell their stories throughout their two-year experience in the MALD or MIB program.  Though I provide general suggestions for what they should write (start with an introduction, finish two years later with a farewell), I encourage them to write about whatever seems important to them.  That way, the same series can include Liam’s suggestions of Boston-area must-do activities, Aditi’s account of a stressful semester, Diane’s survey of Blakeley Hall residents, and Mirza’s report on a spring break tour of Europe performing for Arms and Sleepers.

Starting tomorrow and continuing next week, I’ll be sharing the latest updates from second-year writers:  MIB student McKenzie, MALD student Tatsuo, who is pursuing a semester in France this fall, and MALD student Adnan.  Once we have heard from the returning writers, I will let three new writers introduce themselves.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a photo of the autumnal Tufts University campus that I took on my way to work this morning.



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Debate WatchHere it is, folks.  The final debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle.  And you’re probably thinking that you’d like to connect with Fletcher for the event.  Well, you can.  Several groups have put together a Fletcher Debate Watch.  Once it gets rolling, you can follow along on Twitter at #FletcherDebateWatch

Engage the debateWondering what other debate-related activities are happening at Tufts?  Engage the Debate is a watch party for the general University community.  Featuring Fletcher professor Katrina Burgess, the event kicks off with a panel discussion, which will be available via a live stream.

In fact, the University has a bunch of different election-related events coming up.  Check them out!  And the Tisch College’s JumboVote 2016 site is a great resource for other election news.

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Even if you’ve only been reading the Admissions Blog for a short time, you may have noticed that I have trouble keeping up with everything happening at Fletcher.  Sigh.  Alas, there’s no easy solution to that problem, but I’m always happy to make lemonade out of lemons!  I can help you catch up with the news after it happens!  With that in mind, and in case you missed it, I’m delighted to point you toward the places where you can read up on a couple of big events at Fletcher this month.

Last week, Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context hosted a huge conference, “Greece’s Turn?”  You can catch up with much of the happenings on Twitter at #GreecesTurn.

And earlier this month, Professor Daniel Drezner organized The Ideas Industry conference, which you can also review on Twitter at #FletcherIdeas.  Even better, you can watch many of the sessions.

And now, back to my regular admissions work.  I’m due to present an information session to some of our 50+ participants in today’s Admissions Visit Day!

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We’ve got zillions of people signed up for an Admissions Visit Day on Monday.  (If not zillions, at least a few dozen.)  It will be a fun day for all of us (except maybe for Liz, who’s in charge and might be a little stressed).

There’s another official Visit Day scheduled for November 7, but maybe you’re not free that day.  Or maybe you don’t want to wait.  Why not Do It Yourself?  You could schedule your DIY Visit Day for a Monday or Friday, when we regularly offer Information Sessions.  Add an evaluative interview.  Toss in a couple of class visits.  And don’t forget to register for coffee with a student.  Ta-daaa!  You’ve got yourself a visit day.

Whether you’re at Fletcher during an official Admissions Visit Day or one of the DIY variety, you’ll find it a good opportunity to ask lots of questions and gather the information you need to think about spending a couple of years here and to prepare your application.  Come on over anytime!  But note that evaluative interviews will be offered only until December 9.


Following a blur of a September and an equally busy start to October, I’m now looking at the first deadline of the 2016-17 application process, coming up on Saturday!  Sure, the collection of applications we’ll receive for January enrollment is very manageable, but we’ll also be aiming for a quick turn-around, and October 15 is followed by deadlines on November 15, December 20, and January 10.  That is, we’re heading into the heart of the application process!

Applicants for January 2017 enrollment can trust that we’ll be sending out decisions before November’s over, giving you some planning time.  (Not much, mind you — classes will start with Shopping Day on Tuesday, January 17).  It’s only about three months before we welcome our next group of “Januarians.”

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Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) always represent a significant group within the Fletcher community.  In recent years, they’ve organized themselves for social and other activities.  And, to that end, they also collected a list of the countries of service for everyone.  Though I can’t be sure this is comprehensive, future RPCVs at Fletcher may be interested in the list.  If the students go ahead with the idea of a “country of service potluck,” I can picture an excellent feast.

Azerbaijan (two people)
South Africa


Remember how I told you that I’m often joined over breakfast by members of the Fletcher community?  (Or their voices, anyway.)  Well, I thought I’d also pass along this link to a BBC broadcast that I heard when I was, sadly, suffering from insomnia.  I hasten to make clear that Professor Daniel Drezner and his talk of zombies didn’t prevent me from sleeping.  Not at all!  But once I was awake, I turned to the radio for a little middle-of-the-night company, and there he was.


While the rest of us enjoy a long weekend in the local area, a group of students, faculty, and staff are in Reykjavik, Iceland for the annual Arctic Circle AssemblyProfessor Rockford Weitz, who heads the Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program describes the Assembly as “the world’s largest gathering of Arctic-oriented policy makers, business people, and other stakeholders.”

This is the second year that Fletcher has participated, and our students, professors, staff members, and alumni represent the largest non-Icelandic academic delegation at the Assembly.

Here are the details, courtesy of Professor Weitz’s email in which he invited students to apply to participate:

The opening Arctic presents a myriad of interdisciplinary challenges and opportunities that demonstrate the unique value of a Fletcher education.  No other graduate school could prepare you to understand the truly interdisciplinary nature of the geopolitical, diplomatic, scientific, environmental, sustainable development, national security, international law, macroeconomic, global trade, technology, shipping, energy, migration, human security, and international business implications of an opening Arctic.  Here’s the Arctic Circle Assembly’s program.

The Fletcher-organized panels are:

♦  Rethinking Shared Interests in Arctic Oil and Gas: Can We Actually Manage More Effectively?, Professor Bill Moomaw
♦  Reimagining the Arctic as the World’s Data Center, Fletcher Institute for Business In the Global Context Research Fellow Caroline Troein, F14
♦  BlueTech Innovation for a Sustainable Arctic, Fletcher Maritime Studies Program
♦  Status of Earth Observations in the Arctic, Professor Paul Berkman
♦  Arctic High Seas: Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean, Professor Paul Berkman

As you can see, Fletcher has deep expertise in Arctic topics.  In addition to Fletcher’s contributions at the Arctic Circle Assembly, Fletcher students will be organizing — for the sixth year in a row — the Fletcher Arctic Conference on Saturday, February 18, 2017.  It’s always a great event and conveniently located right here in Medford.  Please mark your calendars!

I meant to publish this post yesterday (Thursday), but my reward for procrastinating is a photo of the Fletcher delegation, courtesy of second-year MALD Angga.


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It has taken me a while to get to it, but I promised to share details on the questions I was answering at last week’s Idealist Grad School Fair in Washington, DC.  As it happens, not too many discrete themes jumped out at me, but I did answer a lot of questions about studying environment issues at Fletcher.  Quite a few times, I took my business card and scribbled CIERP on the back, before passing the card along with instructions to Google it.

Fletcher has had an international environment program for as long as I can remember and the program has become stronger by the year.  The faculty and staff are regularly getting out there and making important contributions to environment discussions on the international stage.  I encourage everyone to check the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy website for details on recent scholarly works and upcoming special events.

Meanwhile, a recent Tufts Now update provided the following news on CIERP faculty and staff members:

Kelly Sims Gallagher, F00, F03, an associate professor at the Fletcher School, and her team have won a Minerva Award for their study “Rising Power Alliances and the Threat of a Parallel Global Order: Understanding BRICS Mobilization.”  The three-year project will develop a multidisciplinary framework to address the changing definitions and compositions of global alliances and coalitions.  The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.

William R. Moomaw, co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) and professor emeritus of international environmental policy at the Fletcher School, was lauded for his trailblazing research in global climate change and his influential teaching career at an event at Tufts on Sept. 12.  The event also highlighted the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), which Moomaw founded in 1992 to advance international environment and resource policy as a field of study at Fletcher.  The celebration concluded with a presentation by Avery Cohn, the inaugural recipient of the William R. Moomaw Professorship of International Environment and Resource Policy, about his research examining how policies can promote sustainable global land use and the natural resiliency of tropical forests.

Mieke van der Wansem, F90, associate director of educational programs at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School, led a one-day training workshop on “Reaching Sustainable Solutions Through Effective Negotiation” in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Oahu, Hawaii.  The goal was to help conservation professionals achieve nature conservation goals through effective stakeholder engagement and negotiation with other sectors and neighboring communities.

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