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I had a surprisingly nice quick trip to Toronto.  I arrived yesterday morning, took a long walk around, and figured out where the APSIA fair would be taking place (down the street, behind the construction site — so I was glad I bothered to look).  The first visitors to the fair arrived as I was still setting up, well before the official start time, followed by three solid hours of talking.  Nice to meet some eager 2015 graduates of University of Toronto, as well as professionals in the area!

I was joined at the Fletcher table by an alum, Farrukh Lalani, a 2008 graduate, and she shared her perspective with the visitors interested in the student and alumnus experience.  As the fair wound down, and over tea after the fair ended, we had time to discuss her new start-up venture, Aria Gems, a non-profit that seeks to build a business, and a model that others can follow, in ethical gem mining in Afghanistan.  This led to a long chat about the non-traditional paths taken by many of her 2008 classmates.  Mining/gems/Afghanistan/start-ups are not concepts we usually weave together when we’re telling prospective students about typical Fletcher career paths, but the atypical path is, itself, somewhat typical.

Coincidentally, yesterday I heard from Farrukh’s classmate, Margherita Zuin, who was featured in a Foreign Policy career guide.  In a sense, Margherita’s career path has been typical for a graduate of an international affairs professional school, though perhaps still atypical in its intensity.

So all in all, a good trip — productive participation in the APSIA fair, and a great opportunity to get to know an alum I hadn’t crossed paths with when she was a Fletcher student.

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Remember how just last week I noted that I’m often visited (via NPR) by the voices of Fletcher community members?  Well, here are two more examples.  First, Dean Stavridis kept me informed when his interview was broadcast while I cooked dinner.

Somewhat more surprising, I heard a report from a correspondent with a name unique enough that I thought it had to be a Fletcher alum.  Karoun Demirjian graduated from Fletcher in 2006 and is a correspondent in Moscow for The Washington Post.  She also occasionally files a report for NPR, and writes for the NPR website.  I happened to hear one of her reports, but it was only while writing this post that I learned that her main gig is with The Post.

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Like many Americans, I’m a morning NPR listener, which means that I’ll often be joined over breakfast or during my commute by the voice of a member of the Fletcher community.  A week or so back, it was MALD (class of 2002) and PhD (class of 2005) graduate Maria Stephan.  With her research colleague, Erika Chenoweth, Maria spoke about civil resistance movements.  Take a minute (or 7, to be more precise) to listen to the interview.

The recent interview followed an article they wrote for Foreign Affairs on the same topic.

 

There have been several interesting stories this week about triple Jumbo Nahid Bhadelia, who completed her MA degree at Fletcher and her MD degree at Tufts University School of Medicine in 2005, after graduating from Tufts Arts and Sciences in 1999.  As she prepares for a trip to Sierra Leone to work with Ebola patients, Nahid has been profiled in the Boston Globe and on Boston’s local CBSNBC, and ABC, stations, as well as on MSNBC, WBUR, and in a piece in the Huffington Post that describes the disease in detail.

Though the current circumstances are extreme, Nahid exemplifies the professional profile of our MA-MD graduates.  Just as Emerson Tuttle wrote in the blog this spring about the MA-DVM dual Fletcher-veterinary degree, the relatively small number of students for whom the MA-MD is the right fit are seeking a particular path for their career — one where the international dimension is inseparable from the medical/veterinary core of their work.

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Remember last spring’s Fletcher D-Prize winners, Andrew Lala and Tommy Galloway?  Well, they’ve successfully converted their concept to a product and they are on the ground in Koudougou, delivering solar lanterns and electricity to rural communities in Burkina Faso!  For updates and details about their products, check out Clair de Lune’s website or follow them on Twitter.  As you read through the website, keep in mind that Andrew and Tommy only graduated in May.  It’s fantastic to see them turn an idea into reality so quickly!  I’m looking forward to reading more as their business gets rolling.

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Blog posts have a short shelf life, and most readers don’t dig too deep into the archives.  For that reason, I thought I’d share some of the most “liked” posts of this past year, as generated by the button below each post.  Click on the photo below to take you to the original blog post or the feature series that it was part of.

Devon ConeFirst, and probably the blog post that has received the greatest number of “likes” ever, was Devon Cone’s report on her five years after Fletcher.  It’s a lovely story that has drawn several particularly warm comments.  If you enjoy reading about Devon’s post-Fletcher path, consider scrolling through all of the Five Year Updates.

 

Michael KleinEach of the posts in the Faculty Spotlight series was well received, and I couldn’t possibly choose among the professors, so I invite you to read all of their self-introductions.  Click on Prof. Klein’s photo to the left, and then scroll through the posts I collected in 2013-2014.  More to come this fall!

 

Roxanne awardIncoming students have told me that they appreciated reading the stories of current students, and everyone was happy for Roxanne when she received the Presidential Award for Citizenship.  To catch up with everything that Roxanne, Mirza, Scott, Diane, Liam, and Mark wrote this year, check out all the Student Stories.

 

Margot ShoreyAlso informative for prospective students have been the updates from students in their first year post-Fletcher.  Given the favorable response, I was proactive this year — I lined up a big bunch of students who graduated in May and who volunteered to write about the post-Fletcher career they hadn’t yet started.  I’ll begin collecting the posts at the end of the fall.  (As I write this, Margot’s post has exactly 100 likes.)

 

Amy Tan and Luca UrechI enjoyed reading the posts students wrote about their activities during the academic year.  I learned about things I had never even heard of!  In addition to the post on the Human Rights Practicum, the one on the International Criminal Court Simulation was particularly well liked, but go ahead and check out the complete collection of Cool Stuff posts.

 

Hovhannes Nikoghosyan Fletcher 2014I also caught up with a few official programs that I had neglected in the past.  Readers especially liked the post on the Tavitian Fellows.

 

 

Finally, there were lots of likes for a few stories about particular students or alumni — posts that weren’t part of a blog feature series.

KamilIn an unusual post about a student who was living like a graduate, we read about Kamil, who will soon be returning to Fletcher after he stopped out for a year with UNICEF in Myanmar.

 

 

Sam and pastry chefThere was this one about Sam Chapple-Sokol, because who doesn’t love reading about cooking?

 

 

 

Glacier - dressed for Arctic conditionsAnd this from Jamie Kraut, one of last summer’s newly minted graduates, who traveled to Norway with some current students.

 

 

Sebastian and MeganI don’t do it too often, but sometimes I can’t resist a nice wedding story.  And with a Fletcher professor officiating at the ceremony, they don’t get much more Fletcherish than Megan and Sebastian’s event last summer.

 

The common element in nearly all these most-liked posts is that they were written by students, alumni, or professors.  The few that I wrote myself tell the stories of students or alumni.  That gives me a strong hint about areas on which to focus blog posts in 2014-2015!

 

Though summer reading is no more required this week than it was last week, I wanted to share some recent books by members of the Fletcher community, both faculty members and graduates.  I can’t ensure that the list is comprehensive, but with topics from brand management to grand strategy, the new publications provide a nice picture of the breadth of interests at Fletcher.

Books by faculty

Kelly Sims Gallagher, The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology

William Martel, Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy

Robert Pfaltzgraff (with Jacquelyn K. Davis), Anticipating a Nuclear Iran

Joel Trachtman, The Future of International Law: Global Government

Jeswald Salacuse, Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making

Jeswald Salacuse, The Three Laws of International Investment: National, Contractual, and International Frameworks for Foreign Capital

Books recently or soon-to-be published by recent graduates

Benedetta Berti, Armed Political Organizations: From Conflict to Integration

Aiyaz Husain, Mapping the End of Empire: American and British Strategic Visions in the Postwar World

Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity

Alison Lawlor Russell, Cyber Blockades

And two others

Though this news is a little less new, I also wanted to note that MALD graduate Tara Conklin had a novel on The New York Times best seller list — The House Girl.  It debuted at #29, in fact!

Finally, a less recent graduate, Bill Richardson F’71, has published How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator.  Prof. Salacuse also wrote a review essay of the book for Negotiation Journal.  Check it out for a nice description of Ambassador Richardson’s career.

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In addition to all the usual degree programs, Fletcher — jointly with the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy — also offers the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA).  MAHA students complete three mandatory courses at Friedman, three core electives selected from a short list of Friedman and Fletcher options, and two courses of their own choice.  At Commencement, the awarding of MAHA degrees alternates between Fletcher and Friedman.  Because the program is small and the program’s administration is based at Friedman, I don’t write about it much, but I wanted to point to an interesting article about Fazal Karim Najimi, a 2003 MAHA alum who provides his unique perspective on the political situation in Afghanistan.

 

On Saturday I heard about something worth sharing.  A current Fletcher student and Admissions volunteer, Deepti, is currently helping out our friends at Educate Lanka, the Sri Lanka-based non-profit headed by Manjula Dissanayake F’12.  Here we see Deepti on a panel with other volunteers and in-country staff, interviewing a new batch of Educate Lanka scholars.  I need to investigate more — I hadn’t heard that Deepti would be in Sri Lanka this summer.  Until I get all the details, here’s the photo, with Deepti in the middle on the left.

Deepti, 2

 

I spent a lot of time on campus this weekend, enjoying Commencement and Reunion activities.  On Saturday, I turned up at about 11:00 and greeted a few students who were waiting for the Class Day activities to begin.  I was sorry not to join them for the day’s speakers, but I was on my way to a panel on life and careers after Fletcher, offered and attended by alumni from the classes of 1989, 1994, and 1999.  I had gone (accompanied by my husband, Paul) to see our friend Charlie Scott F’94, who has recently reinvented himself as the Family Adventure Guy.  As it turns out, the panel discussion featured not only his presentation, but also those of three other alums, including the ambassador to the U.S. from Thailand.  (Ambassador Isarabhakdi said he had wanted to attend Fletcher since he was a young teen.  That’s direction!)  The panel took place on the 7th floor of the Cabot Intercultural Center (one of three attached Fletcher buildings).  The University is on a hill, giving us a nice view from the 7th floor of both the campus and the city beyond.

View from 7F
All the different Commencement venues were set and ready for events, including the thousands of chairs on the quad.

Quad

The next day was the main event.  I came up to campus at about 10:45, by which time Fletcher students were streaming across the street from the all-University ceremony (where, the dean noted, they were a noisy bunch — see photo #19 in the photo gallery) to the Fletcher graduation.  At about 11:10, two things were going on.  First, a photographer was attempting to wrangle the faculty into a shot.

Faculty

At the same time, the Registrar’s staff (and any of us who had offered to help) started herding the graduates into Blakeley Hall courtyard, where they would line up for their procession.

Courtyard
Eventually, everyone was in the graduation tent, and Dean Stavridis could kick off the ceremony.

Dean

Prof. Moomaw, who yesterday became professor emeritus, reflected on his career and experience at Fletcher.

Moomaw

And then came the student speakers, Amy

Amy

and Bob

Prof Moomaw
Both of their speeches were terrific, but Amy scored points with me by mentioning the Admissions Blog!  By the end of the ceremony yesterday, speakers had, interestingly, quoted Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner — not the usual cast of characters for a Fletcher graduation.

Finally, degrees were awarded.  Some students invited their children to join them.  The award for tiniest diploma recipient (in academic regalia) goes to this tiny tot:

Baby grad

And then it was done!  For me, Commencement is an opportunity to celebrate students I have come to know, as well as remind myself of people with whom I was in contact before they enrolled.  (Ohhhh!  I interviewed her, but totally forgot she was in this class….)  For the 310 students who graduated, it was two beautiful blue-skied days, and many, many happy family members.  A day for all to remember!

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