Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Even as 2016 graduates are submitting their Capstone Projects, some of 2017’s grads have already selected a topic for theirs.  Professor Amar Bhidé recently informed the community that he is compiling a “‘library’ of case studies on successful medical innovations,” as part of a study of medical advances.  He invited students to work on a case study, individually or as part of a team, for a Capstone.  The list of innovations from which they can select includes such topics as:

Bone marrow transplant
H. Pylori testing and treatment
Hip and knee replacement
HIV testing and treatment
Inhaled steroids for asthma
IV-conscious sedation
Laparoscopic surgery
MRI and CT scanning
Nonsedating antihistamines
NSAIDs and Cox-2 inhibitors
Statins
Tamoxifen
Ultrasonography including echocardiography

These aren’t the typical Fletcher topics, but for the right students, they could be the start of a very interesting Capstone.

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MaityAs I wrote last fall, my favorite unofficial Fletcher event of the year was the four-part series that second-year MALD student Abhishek Maity offered on “The Beauty of Mathematics.”  The topics for the sessions were:

The Language of Nature: Fractals!
The Inanity of Infinity
What are Numbers? Reality and Chaos
The Ancients: From the Vedas to Al-Jebr

Maity (as he prefers to be called) shared the YouTube playlist of the recorded talks with the community.  I encourage you to give them a look!  (If you do, you’ll see that he designed the playlist to be private.  He agreed that I could share it with blog readers.)

Although the videos aren’t perfect, I’m sharing them because of what they meant to me — a student dedicated a lot of time to preparing and presenting, and an audience of other students attended, despite the tenuous link between the content and their Fletcher studies.  There are many examples of students sharing knowledge with students, but there’s usually a more direct utility to the information.  In this case, Maity presented the series simply to share his love of mathematics with others.

 

As we’re rapidly approaching the end of their sixth year since graduating, let’s return to the Class of 2010, whose updates I have collected throughout the year following their five-year reunion.  Today we’ll hear from Eric Sullivan, a member of the very first MIB class.

Pre-Fletcher Experience

Eric - TeresopolisPrior to joining Fletcher as a member of the inaugural MIB class in 2008, I was one of many whose paths were shaped by the September 11th terrorist attacks and the ensuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I was an Air Force ROTC cadet studying business and Russian at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill on that fateful day.  A little over five years later, I was a newly-minted first lieutenant supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom out of the former Baathist headquarters at the old Iraqi Air Force Academy.  That experience, along with an eye-opening study abroad experience in Russia, raised my interest in international affairs and set me on the path to Fletcher.

At Fletcher

I chose Fletcher because of the MIB program and the opportunity it offered to merge two core interests: business and international affairs.  Although the MIB program was new, the Fletcher School itself was both well-established and well-regarded.  I was particularly impressed by the School’s breadth of offerings, its reputation within the international affairs community, the success of its alumni, and the caliber of my future classmates whom I met at the Open House for newly admitted students.  I had a truly enriching experience at Fletcher.  What I appreciated the most was the ability to pursue my specific academic interests both in and outside of the classroom, with the benefit of a wide array of resources at my disposal through Fletcher and the wider Tufts community.

For example, in fulfillment of my thesis requirement, I wanted to find a way to connect my interests in social enterprise and human trafficking.  With invaluable help and guidance from my advisor, Professor Nathalie Lydler-Kylander, I developed a business case study on Made By Survivors, an NGO that uses the power of social enterprise to empower and liberate survivors of human trafficking.  With the aid of an EMPOWER social enterprise grant from Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, I traveled to India and Nepal to conduct research on several social enterprises employing survivors of trafficking and vulnerable populations.  That trip resulted in a successful case study recognized among the winners of the NextBillion 2010 Case Writing Competition and used subsequently at both Fletcher and Harvard Business School.  The wide web of support and unique opportunities available through Fletcher made such an outcome possible.

Post Fletcher

After graduation, I accepted a position as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, serving as a contract specialist at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center and spending some priceless time with family.  In early 2013, I embarked on my dream job in the U.S. Foreign Service.  My first assignment was to Moscow, Russia as a consular officer, where I adjudicated nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, and managed a portfolio with national security implications and numerous public diplomacy events ranging from a radio interview on a popular Moscow station to a roundtable discussion with future Russian diplomats and foreign affairs professionals.  I also had the opportunity to support the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine during the landmark presidential elections of 2014.  Though only a short two years in duration, set against the backdrop of momentous events in Ukraine, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the imposition of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions, and the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, it made for a very interesting first tour.

Following my assignment in Moscow, I was ready for a drastic change of scenery and climate.  I completed six months of Portuguese language training and I’m now assigned as a Consular Officer to the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I’m currently working in the nonimmigrant visas section, conducting interviews for Brazilians who wish to travel to the U.S. for tourism, business, academics, and exchanges.  Later this year, I will have the opportunity to work as a special assistant to the Consul General.  The Summer Olympics is just around the corner, while Brazil is passing through a challenging period both politically and economically.  My second tour in the Foreign Service seems destined to be just as interesting as the first.

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The first post of Annual Reports from student organizations helped me draw a few more.  I always divide student organizations broadly between those that have a curricular link and those that have their focus squarely on relaxation.  I’m sure you’ll figure out where the following three groups fall.

Fletcher Social Investment Group
Jesse Simmons

The Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) will soon wrap up its second year on Fletcher campus.  FSIG is a student-run group dedicated to the study and practice of impact investing and the development of the next generation of social investment leaders.  To accomplish this goal, FSIG focuses on three core competencies: advisory services to social enterprises, investment analysis and due diligence for angel investors, and research and education on impact investing.

Over the past academic year, FSIG has provided advisory services to 10 clients, including assisting with a market entry strategy for a renewable energy analytics firm and a business development strategy for a mobile provider of produce in food deserts.  FSIG has also partnered with two angel investor collaboratives to provide support in the due diligence process.  These engagements have allowed students to develop their skill sets while addressing business and investor challenges, providing them with hands-on experience with investment cycles and consulting approaches.

FSIG has also taken a lead in providing impact investing education here at Fletcher.  FSIG led groups through a series of Acumen courses on business and financial skills for the social sector, as well as organized a set of trainings featuring faculty experts.  FSIG also co-hosted the Impact Investing and Community Finance Conference, featuring speakers from Goldman Sachs, Acumen, and Third Sector Capital Partners.  A group of FSIG members participated in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition held at the Wharton School, with students sourcing and conducting due diligence on early stage impact investment opportunities to present to an investment committee of judges.  Finally, FSIG produces the Investing in Impact podcast, which can be found on iTunes or on the FSIG website.

As it prepares for next year, FSIG is eager to strengthen relationships with the Tufts community and with other local partners.  To help develop a pipeline of prospective clients and projects, FSIG will have an intern working closely with Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context this summer.  To partner with FSIG moving forward or keep up with its work, please visit FSIG.org.

Fletcher’s Net Impact Club
Ben Costigan and Harper Gay

Fletcher’s Net Impact Club aims to inspire, educate, and equip members to use the power of business to create a socially and environmentally sustainable world.  We strive to create an environment and community that ensures all Fletcher students graduate thinking about their social impact, whatever career path they chose.

Net Impact is a network of 95,000+ students and professionals from over 300 chapters worldwide who are collectively committed to thinking about four key issues and their relation to the business world: (1) sustainable food and agriculture; (2) social justice; (3) transportation and mobility; and (4) energy and the environment.  Fletcher Net Impact is one of the 69 graduate chapters to receive “gold status,” demonstrating that we are leading the way for Net Impact’s global network.

Our chapter actively collaborates with other Boston-area student and professional Net Impact chapters to provide access to events and speakers; internship and job opportunities; technical trainings and certification programs; and a like-minded community to empower students dedicated to achieving positive social and environmental impact through their lives and careers.

Some highlights from the past year include: a site visit to BJ’s Wholesale Club to learn about quality assurance and supply chain sustainability; a networking Happy Hour with local chapters; a roundtable with leading female entrepreneurs from the Boston area; a Global Reporting Initiative Certification Workshop; and a Career Summit panel on ESG Investing.

Fletcher Fútbol
Jesse Simmons and Liam Connolly

On Friday evenings every fall, Fletcher students close their books and start the weekend by hollering themselves hoarse in support of the Fletcher Fútbol team.  Playing in front of the beloved “Fletcher Hooligans,” Fletcher Fútbol is a co-ed all-inclusive club that plays competitively against other graduate schools in the Boston Graduate Soccer League, including MIT Sloan, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School.

For 90 blissful minutes each week, Fletcher Fútbol offers students of all walks, commitments, beliefs, and dispositions the opportunity to escape from their daily travails through the therapy of long balls, short passes, cutting runs, and collective exaltation.  Fletcher Fútbol is the Fletcher School’s foremost Sports Diplomacy practitioners club.  We believe in using the world’s most common language — soccer — to connect students from around the world through a common love of the beautiful game.

Fletcher Fútbol is a cultural, athletic, and therapeutic cornerstone of the Fletcher community.  Fletcher’s 2016 team cheer — “I don’t have friends because all I’ve got is family” — highlights the unity, community, and passion with which their players wear the orange and white.

Continuing an annual tradition, for last night’s Fletcher Follies event students compiled clips of their classmates dancing in locations around the world.  Why do I love the yearly Where the Hell is Fletcher video?  Is it because of the dancing or the cinematography?  Ummm, no.  It’s because students care enough about being part of the community project that they keep it in mind during their travels throughout the year, and then they carry through with exuberance!

Please enjoy (so long as YouTube/copyright issues in your viewing location don’t get in the way), “Where the Hell is Fletcher 2016.”

 

I don’t steal from my past writing as much as I could (or, even, should), but today I thought I’d toss out the links to a couple of past posts on housing.  Lots of enrolling students are starting to think about where they’ll be living come September.

My first link takes us back to when student staffer Ariel had her own admissions advice column.  She runs through the basics of how to kick off a housing search.

Next was a post in which I described the different neighborhood options for housing-hunting students, and how close together all those areas are.

Finally, I tidied up my sloppy tagging, so that more of the relevant posts can be found with this housing tag.

The perfect apartment is not likely to appear without some effort, but all of our students succeed in finding something that works for them.  Give yourself some time to search (by which I mean, start now!) and it will all be fine.

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Less than a month remains before graduation in May.  Let’s take a look at the two-year Annotated Curriculum of Aditi, one of our graduating bloggers.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Dasra, Mumbai, India
PRS Legislative Research, New Delhi, India

Fields of Study
Development Economics
Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (self-designed)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Technology for development; monitoring and evaluation

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

I came to Fletcher with an interest in technology for development and in design, monitoring, and evaluation.  I was lucky to start my year off with the Design and Monitoring module, where I not only learned a great deal, but also made some of my closest friends at Fletcher.  I also decided to take some basic quantitative classes such as statistics and quantitative methods in order to help me feel more prepared for classes down the road.  Social Network Analysis and Corporate Social Responsibility were courses I took to try and explore new areas — although I came to Fletcher with a very clear sense of what I wanted to do, I also wanted to make sure that I tried out some new subjects.

Semester Two

After spending winter break with friends in the warmer climes of New Orleans and Austin, I returned early to Fletcher to dive into Evaluation, the second module of the Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DME) course series.  My spring semester was focused on specific skills I knew I wanted to gain before the summer and before second year, so that I would have the option to take courses that I found more challenging.  I took my econometrics class at the Friedman School in downtown Boston since the Fletcher course was over-subscribed, which turned out to be a great experience.  In addition to furthering my knowledge of monitoring and evaluation, I also brushed up on basic research methods and had the chance to learn more about financial inclusion, a topic about which I had heard a lot but never had the chance to formally study.  The semester was also made more challenging by the fact that I was working more hours a week at my campus job than I could realistically handle, but in retrospect, I’m glad I took the opportunity to earn a little extra money for my summer internship!

Summer Internship
Manos de Madres, Kigali, Rwanda

Since I already wrote about my summer internship, I’ll just say a few quick words about how my academics at Fletcher fit into it.  My courses in design, monitoring, and evaluation and financial inclusion really gave me the tools to apply to my work with Manos de Madres — from conducting a Theory of Chance exercise with the team in Kigali, to thinking through how the savings group program could be improved, I found myself falling back on my Fletcher classes time and again.  I also spent some time over the summer conducting research for my Capstone Project.

Semester Three

I returned to Fletcher early once again, this time to be the teaching assistant for the DME course series.  I hadn’t had much of a break or a holiday over the summer, but decided to dive right into my year and challenge myself with my courses.  I had taken so many requirements in the previous year in order to build up to taking a certain set of classes, and I was loath to let any of those go — and so I ended up (very happily) over-extending myself and learning more in one semester than I could ever have imagined.  By the end of the year, I couldn’t believe my newfound comfort with numbers, or the confidence with which I could read and interpret statistics.  Although the course load was incredibly hard, I don’t think I have ever worked harder or been prouder of myself.  On the flip side, I didn’t have quite as much fun enjoying all the other wonderful things that Fletcher has to offer, and so I decided that come spring semester, I would focus on a select few things and aim to do them well, while spending time enjoying the full Fletcher experience.

Semester Four

After a rushed and exciting trip back home to India for a friend’s wedding, I came back early as the teaching assistant for the Evaluation module of the DME series.  In true “senioritis” fashion, I realized I had left some of my requirements to the end of my time at Fletcher, and found two of my credits filled by those courses.  Given that I wanted to focus on my Capstone, I enrolled in an Independent Study with my advisor, Professor Jenny Aker, and then took two half-credit courses in topics that seemed very interesting to me but that I had little knowledge of.  So far, the semester has been a good balance, and I have been careful not to overcommit, to make time for enjoying friends, lectures, and all the other events that Fletcher has to offer.

Of course, I also have to make sure that I find time to apply to jobs and figure out what comes next for me after this wonderful journey — so cross your fingers and hope that my next (and last!) post on this blog as a Fletcher student brings good news!

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I love hearing from alumni, and not only when they send me news for the blog.  But if they happen to send something newsworthy, well, I’m certainly going to seize the opportunity to share.

On Monday, I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Atanas, a 2015 grad.  He recently started in a new position at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, working on climate resilience.  I’ll let him continue the story:

Last week I was lucky to be working at the Executive Office of the UN Secretary General on the organization of the Paris agreement signature ceremony, and on Friday, I witnessed first-hand this historic moment.  I met a few presidents, including Colombia’s President and Fletcher grad Juan Manuel Santos, and had a brief chat with Leo DiCaprio who is UN Messenger of Peace and delivered a speech during the ceremony.  It was certainly a day to remember.

But one of the most powerful experiences I had was listening to a Fletcher alumna who spoke on a panel in the afternoon of the same day — Rachel Kyte, who is the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and Special Representative of the Secretary General.  She talked only for five minutes but completely captivated the audience and, according to everyone working in this area, hers was one of the best speeches given in a long time.

I’ll plug in a few details about Rachel Kyte.  She’s a 2002 graduate of the GMAP program and, also, currently a Fletcher professor of practice of sustainable development, associated with the Center for International Environment and Research Policy.

The forum at which Atanas heard her speak was “Taking Climate Action to the Next Level: Realizing the Vision of the Paris Agreement.”  Click the photo below to hear her comments following a question at about 1:47:00.

Professor Rachel Kyte, F02, speaking before a UN panel on climate change.

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This is the last full week of classes for the spring semester, the 2015-16 academic year, and the Fletcher in-class experience of those who are graduating.  And I know what it means for those of us on the staff.  There will still be a full house for the last day of classes on Monday, but the student population will drop off remarkably quickly after that.  Following two study days, first-year MALD and MIB students will take their exams and then start to disappear — most of them heading off to their internships.  Graduating students usually stay around to relax and participate in “Dis-Orientation” week before Commencement weekend, but they tend not to hang out in the building.  After Commencement, it will be very very quiet around here.

This week's calendarMy informal and unscientific poll of students indicates that their current stress level varies greatly.  Whereas one student had the semester’s toughest week last week, another is looking ahead to a miserable finals week, and still another is suffering now.  They’re a remarkably durable bunch, though, and I know they’ll get through it.  Oh, and while they’re sweating over exams, papers, presentations, and capstones, there’s still a full agenda of out-of-class activities.

The Admissions Staff is just coming out of an especially busy month of meeting admitted applicants, answering questions, and otherwise doing what we needed to do to help students decide whether to enroll at Fletcher.  A little quiet seems like a good thing right now.  It will be less welcome by week six of the summer break, when we’ll very much wish for a student to pop in and interrupt our work.

 

I have a little something different to offer today.  Remember Mirza?  He was a MALD student who wrote for the blog in 2013-14 and 2014-2015, and since then he has been alternating work that builds on his Fletcher studies with a continuation of the music career he had pre-Fletcher, with the duo Arms and Sleepers (AAS).  Recently, I read something he had posted on his Facebook page and asked if I could share it on the blog.  It struck me as bringing together so much of what makes Mirza interesting — his personal history, his directness and honesty, his work as a musician, and the insights he will have developed at Fletcher.  I’m glad he agreed to let me share his thoughts.  Post-Fletcher careers in the arts are not typical, but those graduates who pursue them are not alone. 

As a further introduction, today Mirza noted, “I have performed in Georgia the country and Georgia the U.S. state; Moscow, Idaho and Moscow, Russia; Athens, Georgia and Athens, Greece; (the) Mexico and New Mexico.”  He definitely covers a lot of territory.  Speaking of which, let me share his upcoming tour schedule.  If you live or are traveling in any of these locations, I’m sure Mirza would be happy to see you.  He has always welcomed Fletcher alumni, students, and even applicants to his performances in the past.  

And with that, I’ll let Mirza share his story.  

I’ve been telling this story at my shows on the current tour so I’ll share it here as well, especially as I am in northern Greece at the moment.

Being a musician and doing this for a living, I often feel conflicted about the importance and impact of what I do, compared to what’s happening in the world.  I arrived at Amsterdam airport the morning of the Brussels airport bombings, and was traveling to Greece via Brussels airport last week.  I am now in northern Greece about to play three shows, practically right next to the refugee camps where people have only one thing on their mind: survival.  I’ve been on that side as well.  When I left Bosnia with my mother in 1992, we only had survival on our mind, too.  We were lucky to escape the war, but we wanted the world to pay attention to our struggles and help us start a new life somewhere else.  Almost every country closed its borders to us, and hours (many hours) spent waiting in line at the Norwegian/Swedish/Canadian/etc. embassies resulted in nothing but rejection.  We were lucky, once again, to be taken by the U.S. after years of trying.

Today, I am on the other side, doing something I love and something that I helped build myself.  I perform music across the world, and even if I am only a small artist, I feel incredibly privileged and lucky that people are willing to pay me to come to their country and play a show.  So as I am writing this in Thessaloniki, Greece, I feel weird because I think about some western artist who might have been performing in Croatia at the same time that my mother and I were traveling on ferries and buses with two suitcases looking for a better future.  Now that western artist is me.

I keep saying that music is important, because it is.  At almost every show I meet someone who tells me how much our music has impacted him/her.  In Bristol, UK, a girl was crying after our show because she heard her favorite song live; in Chongqing, China, someone told me our CD was the first she ever purchased outside of China; in Guatemala City, the show organizer told me that our music opened his eyes (ears?) eight years ago to all kinds of new music he never knew about before; in St. Petersburg, Russia, a young girl told me that she has a heart condition and can’t go to loud shows, as per her doctor, but came to my show anyway and felt free for the first time in a long time; a girl in Poznan, Poland recently got sick and ended up in a wheelchair — she told me that my show was an hour during which she could forget about all the overwhelming negativity in her life; in Ukraine in the summer of 2014, I was thanked endlessly for not canceling my tour and for being one of the only artists to play in the eastern part of the country; in 2009, we wrote a song that was the first thing a newborn in Nashville, Tennessee heard; a guy flew on a plane in Russia for the first time just to come to an AAS show; and I continue receiving Facebook messages from young people in Tehran, Iran telling me how much our music has been influential in the city’s underground electronic music scene.  These are not ego-boosters, but little stories that are important to me because they involve people’s actual lives, and it is unbelievably humbling to have any amount of impact in someone else’s life.

So I don’t know, I continue feeling conflicted because I’ve been on both sides — I’ve been a refugee who nobody wanted and I’ve been a teenager/adult who needed music to get through difficult times.  As I play these shows in northern Greece over the next three nights, I’ll be doing plenty of self-examination and figuring out how to best contribute positively in this messy world, with and without music.

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