Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Though you wouldn’t guess it from the number of times we scheduled and rescheduled, one of my favorite things to do around here is to grab my trusty co-pilot, Kristen, and head out to the Hall of Flags to chat with students for the blog.  For those who haven’t visited, the Hall of Flags is the main gathering spot at Fletcher, and the best place to catch up with folks.  And that’s what we did last Tuesday.  Because we’re so close to the end of the semester, we asked everyone about a highlight of their year.

As soon as we walked into the HoF, we saw Terry and Stephanie, both of whom were included in the post about last year’s HoF visit.  This time, Stephanie was selling tickets to “Americana Night” and Terry was keeping her company.

Terry (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is Fletcher Follies, which hasn’t actually happened yet.  Last year’s Follies was my favorite event of my whole Fletcher experience so far.  It’s fun making videos and also seeing how creative people are in terms of their execution of the videos.  And it’s a highlight from a social perspective.  It brings together students, staff, and faculty in a collegial way leading up to finals.  Everyone is very stressed out by that time in the semester, but it’s a fun way for all the students to come together in one room.

Stephanie (MALD ’15): I’m looking forward to Follies as well, but I’m more excited about the Follies videos I’m making.  I’m doing four — a Harry Potter themed one, and a “30 Rock” parody called “160 Pack,” and we also did a “Shining” themed one.

Stephanie probably listed all four, but I appear to have missed one.

Terry and Stephanie

Marie (MALD ’15): The highlight of my year is my class with Prof. Khan, Historian’s Art.  It’s a phenomenal class.  It goes through great moments in history like World War I and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It assumes we know about the events and Prof. Khan focuses on the time leading up to them and who the key players are.

Marie

Ravi (MIB graduate and IBGC Research Fellow): My highlight was a perfect week when, on Monday, Bloomberg wrote about Mark Zuckerberg’s speech in Barcelona and, in the same paragraph, referenced our Digital Evolution Index, saying that the global investment community agrees with our research findings.  Then, the week ended on Friday with Bill Gates tweeting out the article that Bhaskar (Chakravorti), Rusty (Tunnard), and I wrote in the Harvard Business Review to his 20 million followers, and it got retweeted nearly 5000 times.  It was the most perfect week with the best bookends that one could hope for.

Ravi

Stephen (MA ’15) (camera shy): Last week we did a class trip down to the Naval War College.  We got to see a lot of speakers and visit downtown Newport.  We had a talk on North Korea, Taiwan defense, and Chinese anti-access.

Next we chatted with Morgan, who like Stephanie, was selling tickets — in this case to the Diplomat’s Ball.  Check, cash, or Venmo.

Morgan (MALD ’15):

We had a sending off party for one of our friends who recently got a wonderful job opportunity in Washington, DC.  The energy in the room was incredibly supportive, nurturing and all those good things.  It was a wonderful experience, full of love and light and appreciation for each other.

Morgan
Mary (MALD graduate and current Assistant Director of Student Affairs, who as part of her job responsibilities, attends the social events on campus):
  Africana Night was a highlight.  It has struggled over the years, including once when it was snowed out.  This year’s was the best Africana Night I had ever seen.  It was very high energy and the acts were high quality.

Mary D
Sid (MIB ’15):  For spring break, I went with Fletcher friends, seven of us, to the Bahamas.  We went diving and the instructor asked us where we were from, and we were all from different countries, including Korea, Thailand, India, Japan, U.S., and Nepal.  He was really surprised and asked how we came together.

Sid
When we finished talking to Sid, all system broke down.  We spotted Meg, a PhD student, and went to chat with her.  Then Ben, another PhD student, came along and we pulled him over.  And then we interrupted both of them when Prof. Burgess came along.

Prof. Burgess (Director of the LLM Program): One of my high points was being able to have coffee, along with all the other LLM students, with Judge Joyce Aluoch, (F08) the Vice President of the International Criminal Court.  She joined our group to provide both an overview of the activities of the ICC and to chat informally about current issues facing the court and questions of international law generally.  It’s a special aspect of Fletcher that opportunities like this exist, so that students like our LLM students have an opportunity to meet and interact with very experienced and senior international lawyers.

Prof. Burgess
Then we turned our attention back to Meg and Ben, and the following dialogue resulted:

Them: We’re mentor and mentee.
Us: Which way does it go?  Who’s mentor and who’s mentee?
Them: Exactly.

Meg: Our PhD cohort is the best ever.  Last September, eight of us started.  We have a diverse group.  We just jelled very quickly during Orientation and then we accepted the four internals (who had completed the MALD) into our coven.  We all get along really well, and we fight like brothers and sisters.  We adopted Ben into our cohort.

Ben:  I’m jealous.  Having the large number of external admits last year has broadened the community in an exciting way.

Meg and Ben
Finding two PhD students together in the Hall of Flags is a rare event.  As an additional coincidence, we then bumped into the student whose new job Morgan had been celebrating.

Brionne (MALD ’15): I’m leaving for Washington, DC tomorrow, but today I’m presenting at the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee about equity inclusion for Fletcher students.  I completed classes in January, and starting next week I’ll be working at USAID as a presidential appointee.  I’ll be serving as a Congressional Liaison Officer, supporting Agency priorities on Africa and democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, meaning I’ll be pushing for incentives that President Obama spearheaded, such as the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

Throughout this semester, while waiting for a security clearance, I’ve been embraced by the community and supported as I navigate my transition into the professional world.  The administration has been especially supportive as I completed my capstone.  I’ve continued to build on my relationships with students and also continued to work on ongoing student efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in line with the Fletcher Strategic Plan.

Brionne
By then, an hour had passed and it was time for Kristen and me to return to our day-to-day work.  We only managed one blog trip to the Hall of Flags in 2014-15, but we’ll be back, hopefully more than once, next year.

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Today is April 20: Enrollment decisions (as well as decisions on whether to take a spot on the waitlist) are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT (UTC-4).

Today is also Patriots’ Day, a public holiday in Massachusetts, and the Admissions Office (as well as the rest of Tufts University) is closed.

Patriots’ Day means the Boston Marathon!  Thirteen Fletcher students are participating as members of the Tufts Marathon Team.  Cheer for Stephanie Brown, Tim Grant, Natalie Lam, Kelly Liu, Conner Maher, Tim Magner, Chris Maroshegyi, Alex Nisetich, Gustavo Perez Ara, Tim Roberts, Alex Taylor, Peter Varnum, and Mollie Zapata!  To join TMT, runners pledge to raise funds for nutrition and fitness programs.  If you’re also inclined to support programs of that type, it is still possible to support one or more of the runners!

The runners have been training hard, even during our epic winter.

Snow run
Fortunately, running became more comfortable as the weather improved.

Running, 2

Running

Marathon 20 miler (2)
Taking on marathon training on top of everything that Fletcher students do is a mammoth undertaking.  Good luck, Fletcher runners!

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Today, let’s meet another graduate from Fletcher’s Class of 2009, Yanina Seltzer.

Pre-Fletcher Experience

Yanina, 2I was born in Argentina, raised in Costa Rica and finalized my higher education in the United States.  From a very early age, I developed a global perspective, especially regarding culture, economic issues, and social realities.  I was exposed to harsh economic injustices and social inequalities that sparked my passion for influencing issues surrounding poverty.  In college, I focused my studies on politics, economics, and Latin American studies, in line with my upbringing.  During this time, I interned at Habitat for Humanity, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

After graduation, I served as an economic analyst at Nathan Associates and as a research analyst at the Inter-American Development Bank.  My academic background and professional experience prepared me for Fletcher.  It was clear to me that, through my graduate studies, I could maintain my goal of decreasing poverty and inequality by continuing to focus on international development, but also could broaden my regional scope and my understanding of the role of business and the private sector.

At Fletcher

When I arrived at The Fletcher School my academic focus was development economics and international business.  Yet I also took time for establishing and enjoying community with my peers, which included dancing at nearly every Culture Night.  Exploring the business and finance world would bring an important perspective to the work I had already been doing.  There were two specific classes, both from my first year, that had a uniquely profound influence on my professional and personal development.  The first was Microfinance: Issues and Breakthroughs with Prof. Kim Wilson, which really broadened my understanding of development.  I learned that increasing economic opportunities for the poor involves an active role from the private sector, entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology as a central catalyst.  The second influential class was Prof. Rusty Tunnard’s class in International Consulting.  Our project with Sun Microsystems crystallized for me the role that technology plays in poverty alleviation.  Creating an engagement strategy for a large technology company in order to bring technology to the Base-of-the-Pyramid (BOP) merged my previous concepts of finance and technology with the necessary role of social innovation.

I then spent my summer in Rio de Janeiro, interning with Mobile Metrix, a social enterprise that does market research at the BOP.  When I returned to Fletcher in the fall, in addition to my Fletcher classes, I cross-registered at the business and medical schools at Harvard.  Through those additional classes, I learned how innovative solutions are applied around the world to solve social problems.  And as I neared the end of my time at Fletcher, I knew exactly where I would land in the global economics landscape: Financial Inclusion.

Post-Fletcher

YaninaAfter graduating, I completed a summer internship at CGAP/ World Bank.  I admired the work of CGAP from afar as a graduate student.  It wasn’t long before CGAP asked me to continue beyond my internship experience.  My initial focus involved regulatory issues in branchless banking.  My work then evolved to market-level analyses and projects centered on mobile-financial services.

In 2011, I relocated to Brazil for nine months, where I spearheaded CGAP’s Brazil strategy in financial inclusion.  During this time, I solidified partnerships with some of the largest banks, such as Bradesco and Caixa.  I initiated innovative projects with these actors and the private sector, facilitated regulatory discussions with the Central Bank, led workshops with banking associations and Ministries, and interacted with leading stakeholders in financial inclusion.  I also led our research agenda, where I got to engage directly with hundreds of low-income customers and understand the reality of their ever-complicated needs and behaviors around financial services.

It was during this time in Brazil that I met hundreds of people living in Rio’s slums, in low-income communities in Sao Paulo, and in peri-urban towns in Recife.  This direct interaction gave me long-lasting and unforgettable insights into designing products and services that empowered them and made sense for their lives.  In an effort to truly support them in their economic lifestyles, hopes, needs and possibilities, it became clear that face-to-face connection would be the greatest influence in efforts to design inclusive products, services, and experiences.

Yanina-TEDTwo years post-graduation, I was invited to deliver a TEDx talk in my home country of Costa Rica, which was particularly powerful for me.  My talk centered on the role of technology in international development and I continue to advocate for that perspective in my current role, which includes leading CGAP’s work-stream in Human-Centered Design and Financial Inclusion and customer-centricity.  It came as no surprise that the concepts behind human-centered design center on the influence that direct conversation, observation, and customer-centricity have on innovation.  I have been deeply involved with a total of seven financial service providers and several world-class design firms in order to understand low-income customers and better design and deliver products and services to them.

Five years post-Fletcher I remain at CGAP, devoted to topics and concepts that are a true reflection of Fletcher’s nature.  My education and my professional experience are the epitome of an interdisciplinary experience: a combination of research methods, creative thought, and business strategy that consistently anchors on the fact that real individuals and communities are the heart of everything we seek to design for and understand.  I am recently married and know that my time at Fletcher prepared me for success professionally and personally!  Each day, I am full of gratitude for my Fletcher experience and its extended community of alumni and educators.

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I don’t always visit the Hall of Flags mezzanine with any frequency, but I was very glad I found myself there this week and discovered the photo exhibit connected with this event.  Beautiful, sad, and powerful.

Young Syrian lenses_Fletcher's Flier (5)

 

Only five days remain until the deadline for admitted and waitlisted applicants to indicate their decisions.  With that in mind, a quick note for applicants who wish to accept a place on the waitlist.

As soon as we can next week, we’ll be counting the enrolling students and deciding whether we should make additional offers of admission.  That means that anyone on the waitlist who wishes to send us additional materials should plan to do that by the 20th, too.

A reminder of what constitutes a useful addition to an application that will be reconsidered in the waitlist process:  Updates (new exam scores, grade reports, résumé, etc.); an additional recommendation that sheds light on an area of your background that you didn’t illuminate as thoroughly as you might have in your original application; a letter that restates and clarifies your interests and objectives.  If you’re thinking about sending us information that doesn’t seem particularly new, there’s probably not much benefit to it.  But it’s always nice to hear from you that you are still interested in enrolling, so feel free to send a quick note.

April 21 is only the very beginning of the process for reviewing the waitlist.  As likely as not, nothing much will happen for a few weeks, so patience is still needed.  But don’t hold off much longer in sending any new materials that you want us to consider.

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With Commencement only about five weeks away, we’ll be reading only a few more posts from graduating bloggers Diane and Liam.  Today, Liam provides his “Annotated Curriculum,” in which he lays out his academic path through Fletcher.  (You might also want to read Mirza’s Annotated Curriculum from last spring.)  It’s worth noting here that Liam’s Fletcher experience is not typical for the majority of students, but it does represent that of a significant subset — officers who are sponsored by their branch of the U.S. military.  Their coursework looks much the same as that of any other student, but they rarely pursue a summer internship and they don’t need to find a post-Fletcher job.  Finally, Fletcher students must fulfill a Capstone Requirement, for which many students write a traditional academic thesis.  It’s not uncommon for the terms Capstone and thesis to be used interchangeably.

Liam, MALD 2015, United States

Pre-Fletcher Experience
U.S. Army Infantry Officer; deployments to Iraq (2007-2008) and Afghanistan (2010, 2012)

Fields of Study
International Security Studies
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (INCR)

Capstone Topic
U.S. Army Security Force Assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Army with a broader understanding of global affairs and the role the Army can play in them; selection as an Infantry Battalion Commander

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Role of Force
  • International Organizations
  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

My first semester helped me lay the foundation for my coursework at Fletcher.  I met with my academic advisor, Prof. Shultz, very early in the semester, which set me on the right path for my course load, as he helped lay out a logical course progression.  Role of Force and Processes of International Negotiation were both mandatory courses in my Fields of Study — setting the stage for all my follow-on classes, and I wanted to knock out my ILO requirement early on with International Organizations.  I rounded the semester out with one regionally focused course, which balanced perfectly.  I found the semester to be an excellent mix of papers and final exams, which kept me from having a frantic end of the semester.

Semester Two

  • Policy and Strategy in War
  • Analytical Frameworks
  • Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Peace Operations

Following what I had learned in the fall, I focused heavily on Security Studies this semester, although Peace Operations also counted towards my coursework in the INCR Field of Study.  I fulfilled my quantitative requirement with Analytical Frameworks, which taught me a lot of valuable skills.  Again, this semester was a good mix of papers and finals that enabled me to budget my time throughout the spring.  At this point I also started working with Professor Shultz on my capstone ideas so I could spend time over the summer doing research.

Summer
Army ROTC, MIT

The Army required that I be “gainfully employed” over the summer, so I spent my days helping out at MIT’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program.  The cadets were all gone at training for the summer, so I worked on information-sharing platforms for the unit to use in the fall, but also found myself with plenty of time to do baseline research on U.S. National Security Strategy, as well as where the Army fits in a changing environment, to help frame the “big picture” for my capstone.  I also had a fair amount of time over the summer to work on my Spanish skills on my own, as well as publish several military-related blog posts.

Semester Three

  • Internal Conflicts and War
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict
  • Foundations of International Cybersecurity
  • Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies

This semester proved to be very challenging, as I had five group presentations with group papers due, but then had no finals.  Needless to say, the second half of the semester was a blur.  It was a very Security Studies heavy semester, but the gender course with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. Stites really stood out for me, and helped me understand an aspect of conflict that I’d never put much thought towards during my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Lastly, I used the Internal Conflicts class as the incubator for my thesis and was able to finish the majority of the Iraq portion of it.

Semester Four

  • The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
  • Introduction to Economic Theory
  • The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
  • Capstone Independent Study

I made the mistake of putting off my economics requirement until my final semester, so I had to use a class credit for it during the spring.  I decided to go with an Independent Study with Professor Shultz to finish my thesis and ensure I had the time necessary to put effort towards it.  I was a history major as an undergraduate, so Prof. Khan’s new class really interested me.  Last, with U.S. National Security Strategy “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific, I wanted to get at least one course in that region into my coursework.

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This is the Fletcher Admissions Blog, and it might seem that one of my tasks is to answer directly the question of why an admitted applicant should decide to enroll at Fletcher.  As it happens, several years ago I created a “Why Fletcher” tag, but it only has a few posts in it:  the one when we asked students in the Hall of Flags why they had enrolled; the one in which I shared the results of an informal survey on the topic; the one that a student wrote about how it’s really okay to spend two years away from the Beltway.  In total — not even enough posts for Why Fletcher to appear in the tag cloud.

The paucity of posts reflects my understanding that admitted students don’t want to make their enrollment decision on the basis of the opinions of an Admissions staff member.  Plus, isn’t this entire blog an answer to the Why Fletcher question?  There are the stories of our faculty members, who are both experts in their fields (as you would expect) and also interesting individuals.  There’s all the information about our students, including their reports on interesting things they do each year, and their ongoing stories.  And there are our alumni, particularly those who graduated a year ago or five years ago, and whose trajectories are most relevant for someone who is about to start graduate school.

Within posts, there are many references to the exciting work being done by our programs and centers, such as the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, the Institute for Business in the Global Context, and the International Security Studies Program.  And last, there’s all sorts of good stuff cookin’ at the Office of Career Services, not to mention in our neighborhood.

So, to me, it’s obvious why a student would want to spend one or two (or even more) years at Fletcher.  I hope that after doing your research, including reading through the blog archives, you’ll agree!  But I know that I won’t be the one who ultimately convinces you.

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Though my post is belated, I want to ensure recognition of Katerina Voutsina, who this winter was awarded an Overseas Press Club Foundation Scholar Award.  First, let’s let Katerina describe her path to Fletcher’s MALD program, which she concluded at the end of last semester.

Photo credit: Dallin Van Leuven

I came to Fletcher in January 2013 with the desire to delve deeper into European Union Affairs and economics.  Since 2010 and until my first day in the Hall of Flags, I was reporting on the social impact of the European financial crisis in Greece for the political newspaper TA NEA in Athens.  As a multimedia reporter and digital native, I learned to tell true stories with video, audio and interactives.  In 2011, I joined a three-person investigative team at the newspaper.  Our stories reached millions of readers on the newspaper’s print and online editions, and showed me the impact of quality journalism in my own country.  However, the complexity of the crisis — both economically and politically — reaffirmed my desire to return to graduate school.

My Fletcher journey was an intellectually stimulating experience: a mixture of challenges and joys.  Over the past two years, I have tailored my MALD degree to acquiring the analytical skills needed to understand policymaking in the EU, as well as the history and inherent politics of its institutions and neighbors.  My coursework in Macroeconomics, EU Political Economy, EU-US Relations, Islam and Politics, Religion and Conflict, Forced Migration, International Human Rights Law, and Analytic Frameworks in Public Policy have equipped me to identify impactful — but complex — stories, analyze the main players and explain the consequences to the reader.  I am grateful for my professors, whose passion for their field of work and mentorship encouraged me to work harder and delve deeper into the subjects of study; and I am thankful for the inspiring Fletcher friends I made here.  I am excited to be joining the Brussels bureau of The Wall Street Journal in May.  I believe that journalism is a form of public service and I look forward to writing on topics that would serve that purpose in the future.

And now the press release describing the award:

NEW YORK CITY, February 20, 2015:  Katerina Voutsina, a graduate student at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, was awarded an Overseas Press Club (OPC) Foundation Scholar Award at the Foundation’s 2015 Annual Scholar Awards Luncheon held at the Yale Club in New York City.  Acclaimed foreign correspondent, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger was the keynote speaker.  Voutsina was among 15 aspiring foreign correspondents selected by a panel of leading journalists from a pool of 175 applicants from 50 different colleges and universities.  She is the first Tufts student in 25 years to win an OPC Foundation award.

Voutsina won the Standard & Poor’s Award for Economic and Business Reporting as well as an OPC Foundation fellowship in the Wall Street Journal bureau in Brussels.  In her winning essay she questioned whether Jean-Claude Junker is the right choice to lead the European Commission.  Voutsina received the award from Natalie Evertson, S&P Capital IQ.

The award winners were also honored with a reception at Reuters the night before the luncheon, hosted by Reuters’ editor-in-chief Stephen Adler.  On Saturday they received risk management and situational awareness training from Global Journalist Security at The Associated Press headquarters in New York City.  They also met privately with editors from BuzzFeed and The New York Times in a special breakfast held the morning of the awards presentation.

The OPC Foundation is the nation’s largest and most visible scholarship program encouraging aspiring journalists to pursue careers as foreign correspondents.  Media organizations at the luncheon included AP, Bloomberg, CBS News, GlobalPost/GroundTruth Project, IBT Media, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal.

Katerina Voutsina_OPC_Award

Katerina addresses the audience as she accepted the Overseas Press Club Foundation award at the Yale Club in New York City.

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With ten days to go, organizers of TEDxTufts are wrapping up the last planning details, and several members of the Fletcher community are polishing their talks.  Alumna Angeli Gianchandani (a 2013 graduate of the GMAP program), current student Jeremy Blaney (second year MIB), and the faculty/staff team of Prof. Sulmaan Khan, Ellen McDonald (Ginn Library), and Elayne Stecher (Center for International Environment and Resource Policy) are all among the scheduled speakers.

Though tickets for the event are sold out, you will (of course) be able to follow some of the action via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Continuing this spring’s installment of the Faculty Spotlight series, today we hear from Prof. Ayesha Jalal, who holds a dual appointment between Fletcher and the Tufts University History Department, and is the Mary Richardson Professor of History.  Prof. Jalal is spending the year teaching in Lahore, Pakistan, but when on campus she teaches Contemporary South Asia, and Islam and the West.

Ayesha JalalMisconceptions about history abound and one result has been a growing dissonance between the historian’s perspective and the more presentist views generally favored by policy makers.  Teaching “Contemporary South Asia” and “Islam and the West” at the Fletcher School enables me to interact with a diverse group of students with varied interests, ranging from development, security studies, conflict resolution, international business, and South West Asia.

Several of the Fletcher students I have taught have gone on to assume positions in the policy-making hierarchy as well the non-governmental sector.  A better understanding of history, and appreciation of the value of the historical method in particular, can help navigate the often confused and confusing nature of politics in our troubled world.

Fletcher’s vibrant international community of students, scholars, and practitioners is a perfect setting to discuss the complex issues that are bedeviling the contemporary world, whether the presence of Al-Qaeda in the tribal badlands of north western Pakistan; the specter of chaos symbolized by the rise of ISIS; or the persistence of poverty, discrimination and abject deprivation in a nuclearized South Asia.

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