Posts by: Jessica Daniels
Sorry for my week-long silence! We’re at one of those points in the year when it’s hard to make time for creative blogging. And that makes it a perfect day to highlight two student initiatives, both of which provide community and personal nourishment.
The first is a lovely little offering from “the Yellow House” (the inhabitants of one of the houses on the perimeter of campus that is rented perennially by Fletcher students). Starting last semester, the Yellow House folks have invited the community for weekly Hot Cocoa Fridays. Warm drinks and friendship are served. An especially relaxing way to close out the week.
And another meal-based activity comes from the Culinary Diplomacy Club. Fletcher Feasts is a series of dinners offered and attended by students, faculty, and staff. The club reports that over 280 people have participated as guests or hosts this year. Hosts are invited to prepare a meal of their choice and to say how many others (between four and ten) they can accommodate. The guests pay a modest fee to cover the costs of the hosts, and the small gatherings ensure conversation. The fifth Fletcher Feast took place last week and another is already on the calendar for March.
Whether through an official organization or some folks’ generosity, student-led events such as these add so much to the community, ensuring connections among students who may not meet in the classroom or other more formal settings. And in the case of Hot Cocoa Fridays or Fletcher Feasts, those who attend get a hot drink or a meal, too!
Tagged with: Community
Is it true that Admissions folks try to make matches among our applicants when we decide to admit them? No, of course not! But I can say that there are folks on this list whom I knew before they knew each other, so I’m more than willing to claim a role in their happiness. Continuing with our Valentine’s week celebration of Fletcher couples, please meet another twelve alumni.
Bria, F12, and Ivan, F12
We met on the first day of Fletcher orientation in 2010. We soon became good friends and often met for lunch in Mugar Café. During our second year, we stopped being shy and went on our first dates. Our favorite memory of that time was dancing away during Africana Night, the last cultural night of our Fletcher experience. We got married in 2015 and have since been living in South Asia, where we both work for the U.S. Foreign Service. Thanks for bringing us together, Fletcher!
Laura, F92, and Mark, F90 (MALD) and F93 (PhD)
Laura was working at Fletcher on a China education program. Mark had finished his PhD orals and needed a job. Mark was hired. Flirting ensued. Engagement six months later. Wedding at Tufts Goddard Chapel in the company of many Fletcher friends. Twenty-five years later, international adventures continue to unfold, including stints living in Hong Kong and Mexico. Mark and Laura now live in Denver, and have two boys, Nathan (21) and Theo (18).
Hammad, F11, and Manny, F12
Hammad and Manny met at the entrance of Blakeley Hall on Admitted Students Day in April 2010. What began as a simple friendship, after Manny enrolled at Fletcher, turned into a long-distance relationship — as those pursuing international careers might know all too well. In spring of 2011, Manny had one year left to complete his MALD program and Hammad was set to join the U.S. Foreign Service upon graduation. With some luck, Hammad’s first post was Washington, DC, paving the way for his frequent return visits to Fletcher. The relationship blossomed into a six-year courtship across five cities: Medford, Washington, Caracas, Tunis, and Mexico City. The couple fondly recall their memories from Medford: joint study sessions on the third floor of Ginn Library, staying up late to work on the demanding but rewarding DME course with Professor Church, and the active social calendars of the Green House (where Hammad lived his second year) and Blakeley Hall (where Manny lived his first year). They now both work for the U.S. State Department, and look forward to more globetrotting adventures together.
Filipa, F11, and Chris, F12
We met on October 9, 2010 during Chris’s first semester and Filipa’s last semester at Fletcher. We know the exact date because we were on our way to a comedy show in downtown Boston (“Arabs Gone Wild”) when we were introduced at a fellow Fletcherite’s house. After the show, we decided to have dinner in Chinatown and meet friends at a house-party in Porter Square. Chris walked Filipa home at the end of the night, and what followed were study sessions in the library and computer lab until we went on our first date, to watch a movie at the Somerville Theater. Filipa moved to New York in the spring, so we quickly got to know the MANY bus routes between New York and Boston. After Chris’s graduation in 2012 and subsequent move to Washington, DC, we continued to take advantage of the east coast buses to visit each other. Chris asked Filipa to marry him in June 2014 on the eve of traveling with Fletcher friends to the World Cup in Brazil. We were married the following year in Evora, Portugal in front of our families, friends, and, of course, our beloved Fletcher family. We have lived in Washington DC since 2013, where we continue to enjoy sports, comedy, movies, and the occasional inter-city bus ride.
Andrew, F12, and Arielle, F12
We were both very fortunate as students to have the opportunity to participate in the Asia Foundation Study Tour in China. During that trip we bonded over our mutual love of gorging on delicious food and exploring new places, both of which we continue to do today! We are currently living in Seoul, South Korea working at the U.S. Embassy. Should any fellow Fletcher grads make it out this way, we would love to grab a bite to eat with you!
Nathan, F13, and Ana, F13
We had common friends at Fletcher, but despite this, during our two years at Fletcher, we never got to know each other well. Nathan, a music-frisbee-development passionate guy. Ana, a zumba-library-Middle East club girl. It was only after graduation that our paths crossed in a strange but amazing way. Nathan found himself house searching and, at the insistence of one of Ana’s roommates — and Nathan’s amazing cookies — Nathan moved into the empty room of an apartment with Ana and her friends. Who would have predicted this was going to change our lives! During our early morning coffees, Ana got ready for work and Nathan would share his job-hunting stories, his latest guitar song, or just the quiet of the early morning summer in Boston. While he was looking for jobs away from Boston, Ana was also making plans — to move away from the U.S. In the meantime, we became good friends and Nathan stayed by Ana’s side during a surgery that summer. While she was recovering, he got a job in Washington, DC and he moved in late in August. And it was then when we both realized how much we meant to each other, and how much we wanted to be in each other’s lives. We skyped, talked, emailed, and saw each other as much as we could, mostly living in different places, adding up to more than 20 different cities around the world. Ana moved to southern Turkey, where we currently both live, in 2014, and Nathan joined in 2015. We got married in August 2016 in Boston, a city that will always have a special place in our lives.
And Nathan and Ana’s photo at the School is a fitting conclusion to our Fletcher Couples feature. I’m already looking forward to Valentine’s Day 2018 to reach out to more married alumni and hear their stories. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out the photo album on Fletcher Facebook page for more Fletcher couples.
Tagged with: Fletcher couples
I love learning about Fletcher couples! And this year, in time for today’s Valentine’s Day holiday, I’ve been working on a joyful project — seeking out couples among our alumni. I reached out to a few people whom I expected would be good sources, and soon my email was sprinkled with happy photos and the couples’ stories, which I’ve shared below in their own words.
I’ve written now and then about Fletcher couples, but they’ve usually been folks I knew. For this first Valentine’s Special, featured on the blog and the Fletcher Facebook page, recent graduates are a little over-represented. Now that I know how fun it is to gather these stories, I will commit myself to bringing more graduation-year diversity to the feature. But now, let’s meet some of the couples! ♥
Gerardo, F11, and Ana, F12 and current PhD candidate
Our families have been friends for decades. We’ve known each other since we were little. We planned our wedding as we were applying to schools in the U.S. and we went to several Open Houses. We both fell in love with Fletcher, and that is where we ended up having an extended honeymoon!
Jessica, F16, and Abishek, F14
We met during the 2013-2014 academic year while living in Blakeley Hall. We recently celebrated our wedding in Allahabad, India on January 22, 2017.
Chris, F93, and Hilary, F94
We met first in a Tufts Japanese class that we were both taking after returning from Japan on the JET Program, but the romance really happened at the first Blakeley Hall party that same night! Fletcher was a great place to find someone who had the same perspective on life: an understanding of global cultures and a love of adventure! Now, it’s more than 20 years later, and that is what still keeps us together, after years of living and working in Germany, New York, and Japan. Thank you Fletcher!
Gregor, F12, and Jenny, F12
Gregor and Jenny met during their Fletcher Orientation in 2010. They became good friends, and eventually started dating after working in the same econometrics study group in their second semester. As many of the Fletcher family do, they share a passion for exploring the world, and for good quantitative analysis! They both work in the international development field with a focus on monitoring & evaluation. Jenny and Gregor got engaged in Ireland in 2014. Gregor nervously carried a ring through a four-day hike while looking for an opportune place to propose. They were married in September 2015 in Annapolis, MD and currently live in Washington, DC with their dog, Lady.
Maddie, F14, and John, F14
Maddie and John met on the first day of MIB pre-orientation at Fletcher. Maddie sat in the seat directly in front of John in Dean Chakravorti’s Stategic Management course in Mugar 200. So naturally, Maddie talked to nearly every person in the class except for John. John tried to get Maddie’s attention for weeks, but to no avail.
Maddie had signed up for a half-marathon in Salem in the middle of September and, upon a fellow classmate’s suggestion, it just so happened that John signed up, too, despite zero training. Maddie and John ran the entire 13.1 miles together, talking and getting to know each other. Not long after that, they began dating!
After graduation, they moved to Minneapolis, MN (Maddie’s hometown). John proposed to Maddie a year later, in May 2015, on the historic Stone Arch Bridge, in the pouring rain. Their wedding was at the Solar Arts Building in Minneapolis and they were fortunate to have many Fletcher friends alongside them in their celebrations.
Leigh, F06 (MALD) and F11 (PhD) and Geoffrey, F07 (MALD) and F11 (PhD)
Professor Andrew Hess and Bernadette Kelley-Lecesse (former Fletcher staff member) played an important role in bringing us together. There were also some significant upsides to late nights in the Ginn Library.
We’ll meet more couples in tomorrow’s post!
Tagged with: Fletcher couples
Kicking off the updates from the Class of 2011 is Chris Berger, who had a clear focus for his Fletcher studies before he even arrived and who took full advantage of the School’s quantitative offerings.
I graduated from Princeton in 2006 with a degree in history and I really struggled with what I wanted to do next. I was passionate about foreign affairs and international politics, and deeply involved in the national security discourse in the wake of 9/11. I was also, however, fascinated by the booming financial services industry, despite having taken little interest in economics/finance during college.
Determined to explore this path, I took a job at a financial consulting firm in New York that was focused on the bond markets. Shortly thereafter, 2008 reared its ugly head and the financial world went into a tailspin. A series of unanswered questions began to drive my focus: What was the genesis of the financial crisis and how had it metastasized so pervasively across the globe? Were emerging market economies and the so called “BRICs” (Brazil, Russia, India, China) poised to lead to the next wave of global growth? How would economies rebuild and how would government respond to strengthen the core of the global financial system? Fletcher sounded like the perfect place to explore these questions and to further build my understanding of international economics.
I was drawn to Fletcher’s MALD program by the flexibility of the curriculum and by the breadth of course offerings that directly appealed to my interests. I took full advantage of this flexibility by structuring a course load centered around economics, finance, and the global political economy. My work with Professors Klein, Krohn, and Drezner helped me to build a solid foundation in economics while also refining my understanding of the interaction between finance and public policy. Working with Professor Krohn, I wrote my thesis on how emerging markets were, after the financial crisis, poised to decouple from the West and lead the path for GDP growth over the coming years. (FYI — I was wrong.) As I looked to life after Fletcher, I was determined to find a career that straddled the worlds of public policy and finance.
After graduation, I was very lucky to be offered a role at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as part of their Markets Group. The Markets Group is responsible for executing monetary policy on behalf of the Federal Reserve System and I was fortunate to join right before the start of the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing (QE3, the program implemented in the aftermath of the financial crisis to provide the market with liquidity in effort to stimulate growth). As part of my training program I was taught how to effectively analyze and interpret movements across global financial markets and opine on broader themes across global asset classes. My training afforded me the opportunity to lead daily meetings with the Fed Governors and the Treasury Department and allowed me to participate in briefings with the leadership of the Federal Reserve, including Chair Janet Yellen.
After three years with the Markets Group, I left the Fed to assume a private sector position within BlackRock, where I currently work. The group I joined, called the Financial Markets Advisory group (FMA), was formed in the aftermath of the financial crisis and provides consulting services for governments, central banks and global financial institutions. Described by The New York Times as the “go-to SWAT team in financial crises,” I have worked on a number of assignments in the U.S. and abroad, including most recently a longer term project in Frankfurt. During my two years in the group I have been granted exposure to a broad range of issues facing the global financial system in the aftermath of the crisis, allowing me to build on my Fletcher curriculum while keeping me deeply entrenched with some of the key issues that drive my intellectual curiosity.
During the fall, I reached out to members of the Class of 2011 and asked them to report on what they were doing during their first five post-Fletcher years. I’ve now gathered these new Five-Year Updates, and I’ll start sharing them next week.
One could point out that by the time I publish the posts, five years has nearly melted into six, but let’s not quibble. The updates give you a good sense of how the former students put their degrees to work in the early years after they graduated.
My assignment to the alumni is to provide readers a sense of their work before Fletcher, their academic path through Fletcher, and then their professional (and sometimes personal) lives after Fletcher. Beyond that, the content is up to them.
Connecting with these members of the Fletcher family is a treat for me, whether or not I knew them well from their Hall of Flags days. I always look forward to hearing how Fletcher has influenced them, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading their stories, too.
Reading applications at home while a snowstorm builds outside is a good news/bad news thing. On the one hand, it’s cozy inside with my cups of tea and extra layers of clothing, and I’m thankful I don’t need to think about going anywhere. Plus, the day will be pretty much free from email distractions and interruptions. Tufts University (and nearly every school and university in the area) will be closed for the day as the storm sweeps up the east coast, dumping about a foot of snow everywhere from New York on north. I’ll need to create my own distractions — such as interrupting my reading to write this blog post, or simply staring out the window as the snow piles up.
On the bad news side is simply that, at some point, I’ll need to confront the snow outside and remove it from the sidewalk. But there’s a good-news aspect to shoveling, too — the street scene is like a block party. All the neighbors will be out and we’ll catch up on our news and share recollections of other storms when we met in the middle of the street. It’s well known that it only snows here when my husband, Paul, travels, and that’s usually the conversation opener. Attending to the snow will take some time from reading, but I still expect to get through a nice bundle of applications.
If you’re hoping to reach the Admissions Office, especially if you’re finishing a MALD or MA application before tomorrow’s deadline, please email us. Staff members are working from home, and you should receive a timely answer.
Coming up next week: A full schedule of discussions of super timely topics. For this fourth annual Innovate Tufts Week, the Fletcher student organizers invite all to join a week of “mindful disruption, as we deconstruct the world’s most pressing challenges, work through tangible solutions, and ultimately arrive at actionable outcomes—innovation in practice.”
Here’s the rundown of the Innovate Tufts: Fletcher Disrupts events, which I have taken directly from the email invitation I received this week. Visitors are welcome and the descriptions include the option to sign up. Note that the venues are close to Fletcher on the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus.
Fletcher Disrupts: The Refugee Crisis
Sunday, February 12, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Cheryl A. Chase Center, Tufts University
This human-centered design workshop, led by Continuum Innovation, will address the state of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people in 2017. Following overviews by guest speakers from six Boston-based refugee organizations, participants will work together in groups to develop creative approaches to tackle varying refugee challenges, receiving feedback from practitioners and refugees as they map out solutions. Sign up here early to ensure your spot in the workshop!
Fletcher Disrupts: Dusting Off Diplomacy
Monday, February 13, 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Breed Memorial Hall, 51 Winthrop Street
This session will highlight innovative approaches to diplomacy, including climate diplomacy, culinary diplomacy, start-up diplomacy, and science diplomacy! Experts from each area will outline the idea behind their disruptive approach and discuss how it succeeds in “dusting off diplomacy.” A pitch idea exchange will follow (sign up here if you’d like to pitch your idea!), enabling demo participants active in the innovation community a chance to present their novel approaches and get on-the-spot expert feedback. Register here to attend.
Fletcher Disrupts: Colombia’s Struggle for Peace (A Case Study)
Wednesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Cheryl A. Chase Center, Tufts University
Using recent events in Colombia as a case study, this session will highlight innovative techniques being utilized in Colombia’s peacebuilding process. With expert facilitators, participants will delve into the four-steps of peacebuilding — conflict prevention, management, aftermath, and rebuilding — and learn about innovative peacebuilding techniques Colombia has employed in each stage and where it can move from here. Register here to attend.
Fletcher Disrupts: Networking
Thursday, February 16, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cabot 7th Floor, Tufts University
Join us for networking disrupted—an opportunity to network with speakers and guests from throughout the week, as well as professionals from various sectors working on innovation in their fields. This “world cafe” style event will feature a roundtable setup, with each table covered in butcher paper and supplies in order to facilitate the exchange of ideas and visual tying-together of sessions from throughout the week. Register here to attend.
Tagged with: Conferences
So I’m sitting at the computer and, you know, reading applications while there’s a football game broadcast playing quietly in the background. I switch over to watch the halftime show and then go back to what I’m doing. Eventually, I realize that the hometown New England Patriots are really in a hole (a 25-point hole, to be precise), so I decide that my listening to the game is bringing them bad luck. Maybe switching the game off will turn things around!
Some time after 11:00, I hear some cars honking. What? Could those be celebratory honks? And could my timely actions have brought the Pats a win? Why, yes!
Or maybe it was quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, or whatever. Either way, there are a lot of happy football fans around here today. You can recognize them from their tired game-ran-late eyes.
Boston is an insatiable sports town. Between our beloved Red Sox (baseball), Bruins (ice hockey), and Celtics (basketball) and the Patriots (loved locally but perhaps not universally), we have experienced incredible championship success since 2000. And yet, there’s still enthusiasm for another game and another win. Congratulations to the Pats and all their fans!
Not every staff member sits alone with a cup of tea on a reading day. Dan is lucky enough to have the companionship of his photogenic buddy, Murray. Dan provided this report on a recent day of application reading.
When a reading day happens to fall on an utterly gross winter day like today — not cold enough for snow, but featuring a cold, driving rain throughout — staying inside, at home, feels like good fortune. There’s plenty to love about the work itself, too. As I’ve written before, it’s a humbling and rewarding experience to get a glimpse of things our applicants are doing, and to imagine these folks doing them as part of the Fletcher community. That said, I’ll confess that a full day of nothing but reading can be a bit of a slog for the sheer volume of the task. Every Fletcher application deserves full and close attention, so it’s important to take some mental breaks to stay fresh.
Regular blog readers know that a crucial part of my typical reading day is my wingman Murray. Being full of myself, I always assume it’s a treat for him to have some company on a day when he’d otherwise have considerably less. It also gives me a chance to observe up close the things that occupy his day. There’s sleeping, a few walks outside, the odd mouthful of kibble, and on a clear day, a steady rotation around the living room floor following the shifting patch of sunlight. In short, Murray’s life requires a multi-disciplinary skill set, which may sound familiar to a Fletcher applicant. On several occasions, in need of the aforementioned mental break, I’ve found myself evaluating his potential as a Fletcher applicant. A quick review of his case:
International experience: Murray originally hails from Atlanta, and while Boston and Atlanta can sometimes feel like different countries in my experience, this doesn’t strictly count as international. He’s spent considerable time in Canada, though, and is an eager beneficiary of the occasional piece of broccoli from Chinese leftovers. Bottom line: he could improve in this area, but he’s made some inroads.
Foreign language ability: It’s hard to judge what his native language is, to be honest. He’s not a great barker, though he displays a wide array of dialects including growl (just try to take his toy away), moan (usually when getting a particularly good belly rub), “boop” (my best transcription of the high-pitched sleep chirp he periodically emits, presumably when dreaming of large bowls of meat), and huff (we all drink water a bit too quickly now and then). The issue here is that Fletcher does not currently offer equivalency exams in any of these, so it remains a concern.
Professional experience: This is really an area of strength. In addition to being an accomplished napper, Murray has mastered several toy categories, among them ball, stuffed animal, treat-in-paper-towel-tube, and other kind of ball. He also exhibits advanced licking ability of the sort that can only be learned in the field. The one potential criticism here is that he may be too much of a renaissance man. Previous evaluators have noticed that he can be prone to easily losing focus and shifting interests rapidly.
Academic ability: Perhaps the biggest hurdle in his candidacy. As a dog, Murray has no traditional academic experience, although his “report cards” from the vet (a real thing, I swear) are consistently strong.
Murray’s prospects are ultimately uncertain, though you, applicants, should feel free to gauge yourselves against these criteria to see how you think you might measure up. He’ll be set either way, though, as he currently has a sweet rent-free living arrangement, and a basically full-time job. He can be my wingman anytime.
Tagged with: Murray
An applicant wrote to me this week with a good question, and I’d like to share my answer with all of you, too. He was wondering, not necessarily in these words, what holds us up from releasing decisions on applications that have already been reviewed. Particularly given other schools’ practices (rolling admissions, multiple admissions cycles, etc.), I understand that it could seem strange that Fletcher releases all decisions at once.
And the explanation of our practice is that reading an application is certainly the most time-consuming aspect of the review process — particularly since each application is read at least twice — but it isn’t the end of the process. In addition to Admissions Committee discussions, the key factor is that we want to ensure all applications are read with the same standards in mind, whether the first readers get to them in January or at the end of February. At the conclusion of the whole reading/Committee process, we’ll make sure we’ve got things right.
In addition, remember that we release admission and scholarship decisions at the same time, and we haven’t even started on scholarship review. In fact, we won’t start for a few more weeks. So the release of admission decisions will just need to wait.
As I always say, we’re reading as fast as we can. But we’ll continue to hold on the ultimate release of decisions until all the many necessary elements are in place.
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