Yesterday we read about research and professional activities that occupy several members of the faculty.  Today we’ll meet some students, a professor, and a member of the staff from whom I’m separated by only a wall.  These Community Introductions were created and compiled by the Fletcher Student Council.  (Credit where credit is due!) 

Karina Peña (second-year MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
Human Security and International Migration

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, as a program assistant for their Latin American Program. You know those fancy panel events in DC with free coffee?  I planned a lot of those, and tweeted a lot….

Where are you from?
Miami, FL, but my parents are from Cuba and Nicaragua.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Nicaragua.  Specifically, the tiny town where my grandparents built their house, Los Cedros.  Just visiting Nicaragua and learning about my heritage has been a joy, but to also experience small town life after a lifetime of living in urban areas was so informative.  When I was younger, it was my first experience with the developing world and extreme poverty.  But over the years, it’s developed a lot (e.g. paved roads, new schools, more internet access), so in my head, it’s almost like a practical study of development, as well as a comforting place to kick back and read a book in my hammock.

Who are your favorite writers?
I forget what it’s like to read for fun, but Jane Austen and Isabel Allende always chill me out.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandmother.  She’s endured a ton of hardship throughout her life (civil war, immigrating to the U.S., being the product of a generation that didn’t value education for women, etc.), but she’s the strongest person I know.  She’s also been juicing since before it was cool.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Grad school!  Or more abstractly, being more educated and better positioned than my parents.  They both had to start over in this country, but their hard work paved the way for me to have more opportunities than they did, and that’s certainly one interpretation of the “American Dream.”

Which living person do you most admire?
I already said my grandmother, so….Oprah?  Self-made, intrepid, entrepreneurial, and a fellow [shameless] lover of bread!

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Self-care, and I don’t think we talk about this enough!  We’re all such dedicated, ambitious people, and many of us give more to the community that we give to ourselves.  This semester, I’ve forced myself to make time for some fitness.  It may complicate my schedule a bit, but the satisfaction of a good workout (or whatever self-care may look like for you) goes a long way!

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Fiesta Latina 2017!  It was February, so I was homesick, sad, and cold, but Fiesta Latina warmed up my heart and soul.  It was beautiful to see it come together as a group effort from members of the Fletcher Latin America Group and the broader Fletcher community.  We also mixed in some political commentary and Latino pride during a time when many of us felt personally attacked by anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.  (This might be a plug for Fiesta Latina 2019.)

Meg Guliford (PhD candidate)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m a PhD student in Comparative Politics and International Security Studies.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked in the defense industry for 11 years.

Where are you from?
The south side of Hoisington, KS.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
There is no better place in the world to me than the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota.

Who are your favorite writers?
Beverly Cleary and Wilson Rawls.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
Mel Harmon, my high school custodian.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Relearning to walk after being confined to a wheelchair for several months.

Which living person do you most admire?
Dolly Parton

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Having three close family members die within a two-month period while trying to study for and complete my comprehensive exams.

JB Kelly (first-year MALD)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
Security Studies and… something else?  I am still a first year MALD, so I think maybe it’s okay that I don’t quite know yet.  Right? I’m sure it’ll work out.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was a U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFODA) Commander and subsequently a Plans Officer (S5) in 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  In layman’s terms, I was (and still am) a “Green Beret.”

Where are you from?
Stoneham, which is one town north of Medford.  I’ve lived all over the world at this point, so it’s nice to be home and catch a game at Fenway.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Hard to pick one place.  I’ve lived a year of my life in Transylvania, so that’s pretty unique I suppose.  My favorite travel experience was the time I spent three weeks living with an ethnically Algerian family in the town of Cagnes sur Mer along Côte d’Azur in France.  I learned some French, but more importantly I got to peek inside the family life of an average, well-integrated, ethnically Algerian, French family.

Who are your favorite writers?
Fiction – Jack Kerouac; Poetry – Billy Collins

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
CSM (Retired) Billy Waugh.  His book, Hunting the Jackal, inspired me to volunteer for more than the average Army career.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Sometimes I wonder how/why I followed through on my application to West Point over 15 years ago now.  It’s a lengthy process, my parents were NOT super-stoked about the prospect of their child joining the U.S. Army in a post-9/11 world, and frankly, I was a goof ball in high school.  Any accomplishment, award, or accolade I have all seem to go back to that shockingly mature decision as a very immature high school junior.

Which living person do you most admire?
General Joseph Dunford.  I met him very briefly in Kunar, Afghanistan while he was ISAF Commander and again when he spoke at Fletcher last semester.  I think every military officer should aspire to his level of professionalism and selflessness.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
I am still working on it, but my biggest personal challenge has always been achieving a work-life balance.  The military life can become all-consuming if one doesn’t actively work on family life or get a hobby.  For example, my fiancé, Amanda, is also an Army officer, but still stationed over in Germany, so it takes some effort to stay connected via FaceTime and plane travel.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
There are too many to count really.  I am truly enjoying just being a guy, in a class, thinking about stuff.  The occasional post-(insert event here) beers at PJ Ryan’s have been pretty great too.

Quick plug: if you’d like to join me in my hobby of brewing beer, join the Fletcher Fermentation Club.

Liz Wagoner (Associate Director of Admissions & Financial Aid)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I’ve worked in the Admissions Office since August 2012.  I read applications, work closely with our admissions ambassadors and do much of our event planning, including the big April Open House.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business in their admissions office.  I worked primarily with the health sector and nonprofit MBA programs, so coming to Fletcher was a great fit.  I’m a graduate of Bates College (Go Bobcats!) and went to BU for my master’s in higher education (shout out to my fellow Terriers).

Where are you from?
I’m a little from all over.  I was born out west, spent my early childhood in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, moved around a ton in middle school/high school, mostly around New England, but ultimately, I think of NH as home.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I’m not sure I’ve been anywhere unique, but in a few weeks, I’m going to Iceland for a few days.  It’s been on my bucket list for a while now and I cannot wait to go!  Fingers crossed I get to see the northern lights!

Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a big fan of comedic writers like David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling and I think JK Rowling is a genius.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mom.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I was once ranked 18th in the country for squash (juniors).  I had always wanted to crack the top 20, so when I finally did, it was a big deal for me!

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time.  There’s never enough of it!  And perhaps, securing rooms for events — there’s never enough of those either.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I’m a huge fan of the Annual Faculty & Staff Wait On You Dinner (AFSWOYD).  I love how the community comes together for a great cause and I get a kick out of the competitiveness of the students while bidding on auction items!  It’s always a great time.

John Burgess (Professor of Practice, Executive Director LL.M. Program)

What do you do at Fletcher?
I teach cross-border mergers and acquisitions and law of the sea.  I also run the LL.M. Program.

What did you do before Fletcher?
37 years at WilmerHale, a large, multinational law firm, with a some time off for work on the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty at the U.S. State Department.

Where are you from?
Waltham, Massachusetts.  I’ve been all over the world, but ultimately didn’t land too far from the tree.  Boston suits me fine.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Iceland — it’s like a controlled experiment in living, that gods with a sense of humor located in a land where the principal action is all geothermal.

Who are your favorite writers?
Joseph Conrad for introducing us to a globalized world and Stefan Zweig for preserving the lost world of central Europe before the Great War.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My father, who has never encountered anything in the world of science or art that he didn’t find fascinating.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
42 years of marriage, two great daughters and two wonderful grandchildren.  Is it inappropriate to add completing a biathlon in Austria while dressed in business casual and periodically being required to drink a shot of schnapps?

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Adjusting to the rhythms of the academic year.  One minute, the corridors are filled, there are a dozen events to choose from, and exciting projects are being shared.  And a day later, silence.  I have finally figured out when you are supposed to actually do research or prepare a new course.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Aside from drawing on long-lost skills to wait tables once a year for the students with friends and colleagues from the faculty and staff?  Reverse engineering two very different events — AliBaba’s IPO and the Philippines/South China Sea arbitration to share the myriad of legal subtleties that the press never gets around to discussing.

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