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Reports from the Class of 2015 have started to trickle in. Today we’ll learn about the path through Fletcher of Thomas Pols, an experienced medical doctor.
A year ago I was putting the final touches on my capstone and was in the midst of my job search while trying to enjoy every moment of my last few weeks in Medford. After having worked for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the years before starting Fletcher, I came to the U.S. in August 2013 with my mind set on continuing my career in humanitarian aid. Never could I have predicted how differently my career would develop instead.
Compared to the clear structure of medical school, the flexible and interdisciplinary Fletcher curriculum was completely new to me. Choosing from so many different topics to study while still being able to connect all these fields was an amazing experience that, over the course of two years, made me consider taking my career in new directions. Talking with Professors Scharioth and Wilkinson was a great way to test the ideas that I had for my post-Fletcher life and, with their encouragement, I decided not to go straight back to the humanitarian field after all.
After celebrating our graduation in May 2015, the first order of business of a small group of us newly minted alumni was to travel together through the Caucasus and Central Europe before starting with “real” life. For me, this meant a post-travel return to my native Netherlands and exploring opportunities here.
Because I wanted to explore many different opportunities, I tried to cast a wide net by doing some freelance consulting work for humanitarian NGOs, while also teaching part-time at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Being on the other side of the classroom just months after graduating myself was a great experience. Focusing primarily on courses covering international relations and international law allowed me to use many of the skills and the knowledge I had gained over the previous two years. My work at the university also brought me in contact with many interesting people who helped me continue my search for a job that would combine my medical and Fletcher backgrounds.
One of these conversations led to an introduction at Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague, where I was amazed to see how much they appreciated the interdisciplinary education I received at Fletcher. A complex company such as Shell works in a difficult market, in difficult locations, while continuously under scrutiny; a great challenge for a Fletcher graduate.
After half a dozen meetings, interviews and assessments, I was offered a position as Global Health Advisor. Never would I have thought that this would be the next step in my career, and I can truly say that Fletcher made it possible.
Today, nearly a year after leaving my friends in Medford, I am back visiting them in Washington, DC (where it seems that our “sixth semester” is in full swing), before I start the next step in my career. I am actually writing this in DC after finishing Sunday brunch with a group of Fletcher graduates, who shared amazing stories of what they have been up to in the last year.
I won’t try again to predict what I will do in the future because, with a Fletcher degree, it seems any future is possible.
I started the week with a post from a student, so why not end the week with a graduate from the Class of 2010. Let’s hear from Beka Feathers, whose post-Fletcher path include a law degree, as well as a new career.
Unlike many Fletcher students, I had no prior international work experience before starting at Fletcher. After graduating from Lewis & Clark College in 2006 with a degree in international affairs, I took a position as a policy adviser for the Oregon State Legislature while applying for the U.S. Foreign Service. I discovered a deep affinity for the work done by state and local government officials to support the everyday lives of Oregonians and to help them achieve their political and economic aspirations. I maintained my interest in international affairs, and I saw more and more parallels between my work in Oregon state government and the needs of developing and post-conflict countries, where weak or missing governing institutions contribute to political instability, corruption, poor economic growth, and low standards of living.
Fletcher was my first choice throughout my grad school search. I was drawn by the high caliber of the students as well as the faculty, and the collaborative atmosphere I observed on a visit. Additionally, I wanted a practitioner-focused school that would help me meld my domestic government experience with my international career aspirations.
Many students find that the focus of their studies shifts over the course of their time at Fletcher. I stayed in the same field, but could not have anticipated how much Fletcher would change the trajectory of my professional interests. I was lucky to end up in two important classes my very first semester: The Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Societies with Professor Louis Aucoin, and Design and Monitoring of Peacebuilding and Development Programming with Professor Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church. These two classes (and many others) helped me find my true passions: working with post-conflict states to develop representative and transparent systems of government, and developing monitoring and evaluation tools to ensure that international governance interventions are having the effect that we hope they will have.
Professor Aucoin was especially influential to my course trajectory, particularly my decision to attend law school after Fletcher. I was also fortunate to study with Professor Shultz, who taught me to seek the intersection points between “hard” and “human” security issues. I can’t condense into a blog post how much I learned from my fellow students, who met and exceeded every one of my pre-Fletcher expectations (including introducing me to bhangra!). Also critical was my summer work with the National Democratic Institute, where I helped to develop a set of benchmarking standards for evaluating democratic legislatures.
After graduating, I moved down to DC for three years of law school. Through a Fletcher friend, I was connected to the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), where I started working in my second year of law school. I am still with PILPG today, where I have worked with clients in Burma, Georgia, Kosovo, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, among others. I currently manage a program focused on transitional justice in Syria, but I have worked with constitution drafting committees, members of parliament, high-level peace negotiation delegations, civil society coalitions, the UN Human Rights Council, and rebel movements. I use my Fletcher degree in my job on a daily basis.
The education I received at Fletcher allowed me to jump into my work at PILPG at a level of expertise and confidence that put me years ahead of my peers. The friends I made at Fletcher, and the broader Fletcher community, remain a constant resource for me as well — they are my go-to experts on anything from the rules of procedure for truth commissions to best practices for post-conflict land reform to where to eat on a last-minute trip to Amman. Beyond all that, the Fletcher ethos is a core part of my identity as a member of the international development community and continues to shape how I perceive the world and my role in it.
It has been a while since we heard from a member of the Class of 2010. These are the alumni whom I’ve asked to reflect on their first five years since graduating. Maria Eugenia’s study at Fletcher enabled her to craft the development career she had first started in her home country of Argentina.
Unlike many of my Fletcher friends, before attending Fletcher I had never studied or lived outside of Argentina, my home country. I was born and raised in Buenos Aires and had, what you might call, a fairly “domestic” upbringing.
When I was 21 years old, my older sister won a scholarship to study in Italy. Visiting her ended up being my excuse to travel around Europe for a couple of months. I was then finishing my studies in sociology at the University of Buenos Aires and had done development work for grassroots NGOs. During that trip I met new people, experienced new cultures, tried new foods, and heard new languages. I felt so energized by those differences. I returned home with the certainty that, whatever development-related work I ended up doing after finishing undergrad (because I knew development was the field I wanted to continue in), it would be work that allowed me to explore and learn from the richness of the world and its peoples.
I arrived at Fletcher several years after that trip, with a BA in sociology, and a couple of years of experience working full time for a second-tier microfinance non-profit organization.
If I had to use a word to describe my time at Fletcher it would be “intense.” Everything was new: the way the education system was organized, the people I met, the language I spoke (it was my first time studying in English!). I learned something new every day, and in every conversation I had. I made good friends with people who came from countries that I had barely heard of before.
Having a clear focus on the field in which I wanted to work after Fletcher helped me pick my Fields of Study: I focused my studies on Human Security and International Organizations. Courses like Professor Scharbatke-Church’s Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Johnstone’s International Organizations, or Professor Mazurana’s Gender and Conflict provided me with the lenses, tools, and critical thinking that I currently use to carry out my everyday tasks. Doing fieldwork during the summer between the first and second years was also a highlight of my Fletcher experience. I did an internship at a Bangladeshi NGO, focused on children’s rights. It was an unpaid internship, but Office of Career Services funding helped me cover my expenses.
After Fletcher, I moved to Geneva, Switzerland. An internship at the International Labour Organization turned into a three-year job working at the Partnerships and Development Cooperation Department. Eager to learn more about technical cooperation and finance for development, I moved to Washington, DC to join the Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Team of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund. My tasks in both organizations were related to supporting project preparation, from identification (analyzing grant proposals, writing concept notes for management eligibility), to design (developing theories of change, project documents, logical frameworks, budgets), to implementation (writing progress reports, capturing lessons learned).
Mid-2014, I moved back home to Buenos Aires and continued working for these and other organizations as an independent consultant. I currently coordinate a network of 20+ funders and multilateral organizations working together to generate and share evidence-based knowledge on what works in youth employment. I also facilitate an NGO Community of Practice in Latin America, implementing youth employment projects. Working closely with both funders and implementers provides me with a unique insight into funders’ strategic thinking and implementers’ real-life challenges.
Working independently allows me to focus my time and energy on the projects that I like the most, at a particular time in my life when I really want (and need!) flexibility — my first son, Santiago, was born in March 2015. Having a good skills-set and the right network and credentials has been key to navigating this career change successfully.
Since graduating from Fletcher, I have lived in four countries, worked for two very different international organizations, traveled around 15+ other countries, and fostered friendships all over the world. I have certainly grown and achieved much more than I could even have thought I would when I first applied to Fletcher, and I am really looking forward to what the next five years will bring!
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
The last few weeks have been busy around the school. Students are seriously engaged in classes/exams/capstones as well as internships/jobs and lectures/conferences. And then…
…everything shifts as students pack their bags and head south to Washington, DC for the annual Career Trip. While they are in DC, students can attend information sessions, panels, receptions, networking events, informational interviews, and lunches. There’s a schedule that requires careful planning for the attendees, lest they create an impossibly manic two-day agenda for themselves. So they pick and choose, based on their sector and organization interests. Then most of them will come together for a reception with alumni.
For a taste of one of the Career Trip activities, you can join current PhD students and alumni of the program for a panel discussion at the United States Institute of Peace. “From Civil Resistance to Peaceful Revolution” will be aired live from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. (I will try to update this post with the video of the panel.)
Post-panel update: Here’s the video of the event.
Meanwhile, as the total list of organizations with which students will connect is way too long to include here, I’ll just provide this partial list of companies, offices, and agencies that will be represented by Fletcher alumni:
Abt Associates, Inc.
Albright Stonebridge Group
American Friends Service Committee
American Petroleum Institute
American Red Cross
Association of Climate Change Officers
Biotechnology Innovation Organization
Blue Compass, LLC
Bogota Employment Project
Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.
Boston Consulting Group
Capgemini Government Solutions
Center for Complex Operations, NDU
Clifford Chance US LLP
Coalition for Justice
Congressional Research Service
Council on Foreign Relations
Covington & Burling, LLP
Creative Associates International
Cypress International, Inc.
Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board
Deloitte Consulting, LLP
Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Financial Integrity Network
Foreign Policy Magazine
German Marshall Fund
Global Professional Search
Glover Park Group
Goodwin Procter, LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Human Rights Campaign
I.D. Inspiring Development GmbH
Inter-American Development Bank
International Finance Corporation
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Baltimore
Koltai and Company, LLC
Latin America Working Group
Metis Strategy LLC
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Millennium Challenge Corporation
MSI, Tetra Tech Company
National Defense University
National Democratic Institute
National Nuclear Security Administration
Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
Office of Management and Budget
Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Open Government Partnership
Orange Tree, LLC
Organization of American States
Partners for Development
Paul, Weiss LLP
Population Services International
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Regulatory Strategies and Solutions Group
Rocket Media Group
Rudaw Media Company
Save the Children
Search for Common Ground
Sidar Global Advisors
Social Impact, Inc.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Rec
Strategic Capacity Group
Teach For All
Team Red, White and Blue
The Aspen Institute
The Buffalo Group
The Cohen Group
The Hudson Institute
The New York Times
The Scowcroft Group
The Stimson Center
The White House
The World Bank
Thompson Hine LLP
U.S. African Development Foundation
U.S. Codex Office
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of the Treasury
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Marine Corps
U.S.-Indonesia Joint Council
Under Armour Inc.
United Nations Foundation
United States Export-Import Bank
United States Institute of Peace
Valuing Voices at Cekan Consulting, LLC
Viper Analytics, LLC
World Environment Center
World Vision International
Today marks eight months since the Class of 2015 graduation last May 22, and it’s time to start checking in with our newest graduates. While I continue lining up First-Year Alumni updates, let’s hear from one of the student bloggers who completed the MALD last spring. Unlike many of his classmates who are still settling into their new jobs, Liam is in the U.S. Army, and his plans for this year were in place well before he graduated.
With everything going on in my life, it’s hard to believe that only a year ago I was in my last Fletcher semester, deep into my capstone. Since then, I’ve spent the past eight months as a student at the Command and General Staff College (CGSS), the U.S. Army’s professional education program for mid-career officers. Yet, despite being in the middle of Kansas, thousands of miles away from Medford, my Fletcher experience continues to shape my life daily.
First, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute recently published my Fletcher capstone. Focused on how the Army can improve at advising and assisting other nation’s militaries, the monograph was the culmination of work I did in Professor Shultz’s Internal Conflicts and War class and in an independent study I did with him. Although I’m thrilled the paper was published, what I’m more excited about is that it’s making its rounds through the Security Force Assistance community. I recently met with the Director of the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance to discuss the paper, and am in the process of consulting with the team that is re-writing Army doctrine on the topic. For me, it’s a great reward, after putting so much work into my capstone at Fletcher, to have it be read by a wider audience, and I’d encourage current and prospective students to attempt to do the same.
Second, what I learned at Fletcher has a direct impact on my studies here at CGSS. From the basis of national security strategy I gained in Professor Shultz’s classes to the ability think critically through history learned from Professor Khan, I find myself often going back over my Fletcher class notes and readings to gain a better understanding of topics we cover in class. My ability to address complex issues, from humanitarian relief operations to the roots of instability in Europe and everything in between, has been greatly enhanced by the breadth and depth of my Fletcher education. Additionally, last fall we had the pleasure of having Dean Stavridis come talk to all 1,300 officers in our CGSS class about how he sees the 21st century security environment, and it made me incredibly proud to be part of the Fletcher community when my classmates said they thought the Dean gave the best guest lecture we’ve heard. And Fletcher alumni gained a very visible face when General Joe Dunford was named the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last fall.
Last, and most importantly, I got married in December. My wife Christine is an Air Force pilot and we currently live apart while she’s in Colorado and I’m here, but the wedding gave us an opportunity to catch up with several classmates. Shockingly, Kansas is hardly the center of the Fletcher-sphere, so seeing friends after almost a year was great.
My Fletcher experience, from the education to the friendships made over my two years in Medford, sticks with me everyday. As my classmates make their way out into the world and start in their careers, I feel secure knowing that some of the most intelligent, caring, compassionate, and capable people the world has to offer are tackling the tough issues at hand. Also, as the Class Fund Agent for the class of 2015, it’s great to see donations back to the Fletcher Fund already coming from my peers and friends, helping the next generation of students succeed in their pursuit of making the world a better place. Looking back, I have to say that being a student at Fletcher was truly the most incredible experience of my Army career to date.
Let’s close out this week with the next Five Year Update from a 2010 graduate. Rebecca is one of the growing number of Fletcher-trained M&E professionals out in the world, and here she describes her trajectory from before Fletcher to her post-Fletcher career.
After graduating in 2005 from Bates College, where I studied political science, studied abroad in Cape Town, and wrote my honors thesis on the gendered nature of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, I knew I wanted to do something international, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. I decided to move to Washington, DC and see what opportunities I could find there. I ended up at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a foreign policy think tank. It was a great introduction to the world of international policy. While at CSIS, I organized high-level membership meetings and special fundraising events. I got to meet Sandra Day O’Connor and travel to China and I was exposed to the field of policy and decision-making. I knew I needed to gain practitioner skills, and graduate school seemed like the logical next step. Fletcher was my first choice — I loved the close-knit community feeling I got when I visited and also that it was outside of the beltway.
At Fletcher, I studied Development Economics and Global Health Policy (a self-designed Field of Study) and graduated with a certificate in Human Security. During my first semester I signed up for a course on Design, Monitoring and Evaluation. I had never heard of M&E before and didn’t realize it would have such an impact on my career. As I went through the course that semester, something clicked. I loved the idea of using my analytical skills to help development practitioners learn from and improve the work they were doing. During the summer, I traveled to Malawi with three other Fletcher students and designed an M&E framework for a girls’ education organization. For my thesis, I worked with a small global health organization to design an M&E strategy for the organization’s programming. I believe that the combination of education and practical skills in M&E I gained at Fletcher enabled me to get my foot in the door at Oxfam America after I graduated.
I started at the headquarters of Oxfam America in Boston as an intern — I tell every Fletcher student who contacts me for career advice that it’s OK to take an internship after graduating. It’s a great way to test out an organization and you get opportunities that you would not have as someone external to the organization. My internship ultimately turned into a consultancy, which turned into a full-time position. I worked for almost four and a half years in Oxfam’s Campaigns Department, where I was introduced to the wonderful world of policy advocacy monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL). I worked with a variety of campaign teams based in the U.S., supporting them on all things MEL, including developing MEL plans, collecting data, facilitating debriefs and writing evaluation reports. In my last year in the department, I provided campaign MEL support to country teams and led trainings in Nepal and Spain.
My experience in policy advocacy MEL, combined with the program M&E skills I acquired at Fletcher, enabled me to transition to Oxfam’s Regional Programs Department, where I am the MEL Project Officer for domestic programs. I provide technical MEL support and make sure the different programs are effectively monitoring, reporting on, and learning from their work. After working in the international field for almost a decade, it has been rewarding to support programming in my home country. I could not have predicted this career when I first set foot in the Hall of Flags in 2008, but my two years at Fletcher had a profound impact on where I am now, and I am all the better for it.
Most of today’s blog readers won’t remember Ariel, a 2013 graduate of the MIB program, but that’s really a mistake on my part. Ariel was a member of the Admissions Office student staff from 2011-2013, and she skillfully doled out advice in the blog’s “Dear Ariel” feature. (Correcting for my previous oversight, I now encourage you to check it out — Ariel provided good information!)
Fast forward about two and a half years, and exciting news about Ariel recently landed in my inbox. She has been recognized in the “Law and Policy” sector in Forbes Magazine‘s “30 Under 30” feature for her work with the U.S. State Department combating drug trafficking.
Ariel was the first MIB student with a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Other MIB graduates have pursued careers with the State Department or other government agencies, but the Pickering Fellowship certainly seems to have boosted Ariel’s career onto the fast track.
It’s a treat for the Admissions team to see one of our students honored in this way. Congratulations, Ariel!
Tagged with: MIB
So I answer my office phone one day. I note the caller ID (“Farzana Hoque”), but the person on the other end is Matt Herbert, a PhD candidate. Matt and I chat about his reason for calling, but then I ask him about the caller ID. “Farzana is my wife,” he says. Then (at my prompting) he goes on to explain that he (a 2010 MALD graduate) met Farzana (a 2012 MALD graduate), during her final semester at Fletcher. He had just returned from a year living and working in Norway. They stayed in Boston from 2012 to 2013 (she was working, he continued with the PhD program) while they considered if their relationship might be a keeper. It was.
In 2013, Matt bought an engagement ring in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 2014, they were married. Three times. The first wedding was the one that made everything official, and yet it took place in a car speeding out of Washington, DC. They needed to fulfill the requirement imposed by their DC marriage license that the formal ceremony be performed in the District. Matt’s sister, who had obtained legal authority to conduct the wedding, was in the car. A kiss at the spotlight sealed their “I do’s.” The second was a “Flash Wedding” — Matt and Farzana’s secret plan to turn a small wedding shower into an actual, though low-key, wedding. (Matt’s sister officiated this time, too.)
The third wedding took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh — a three-day ceremony filled with dancers, food, and 400 friends and relatives. Several Fletcher alumni living in Dhaka even made an appearance.
Matt and Farzana now live and work in Washington, DC, except when Matt is in West or North Africa for work or research. Their life together has already touched on more than the average number of countries, in true Fletcher fashion.
Tagged with: Fletcher couples
What better way to celebrate the first work day of 2016 than to return to the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2010. This post comes from Adam Welti.
Five years after graduation from Fletcher, I am currently employed by a United States Government technical agency that allows me to work with high-level political leaders to support sustainable natural resource policies — as well as farmers and young people living in and around forests and wetlands that hold some of the greatest biodiversity in the world — to develop more sustainable agricultural practices while improving livelihoods. A career at this nexus was my goal, and my Fletcher experience played a large part in helping me arrive at where I am today.
My international interests began with study-abroad trips that later led to two years with the Peace Corps in Morocco, where I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer in a rural Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains. Following this formative experience in Morocco, I taught English at a high school in Saint Dizier, France through the Foreign Language Teaching Program. During my time abroad, I realized I wanted to pursue graduate studies in an international affairs program that had a strong faculty and curriculum in environment and natural resource policy, to augment my undergraduate work in environment and natural resource science. I sought a school with a strong sense of community that reflected the value of community I had come to appreciate as a part of my childhood and later years in Morocco. For those primary reasons, Fletcher stood out as the logical choice for my graduate studies.
While at Fletcher in the MALD program, I focused on International Environment and Resource Policy as well as International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. I was fortunate to have a student job at the Office of Development and Alumni Relations that afforded me the opportunity to interact with the extensive Fletcher alumni network, which has truly lived up to the hype.
The summer between my first and second years at Fletcher, I served as an Advocacy Project Fellow in Liberia supporting a local non-governmental organization through capacity building and environmental education assessments. During my time in Liberia, I met the U.S. Forest Service Advisor to USAID and the Liberian government, who told me about the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs office. It was this chance encounter that eventually led me to my current position.
Upon graduation from Fletcher, I worked with the Rainforest Alliance supporting their Forest Stewardship Council certification work. In 2011, I joined the Africa and Middle East team of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, where I manage programs in West and North Africa. Our office works to connect the technical expertise of the 35,000 staff of the U.S. Forest Service with our partners abroad. Through technical exchange missions, policy dialogues, international seminars, and longer-term development projects, we partner with other forestry and environment agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to sustainably manage natural resources while improving livelihoods.
My work with the U.S. Forest Service allows me to interact with high level government counterparts within U.S. government and host country agencies, as well as with resilient, inspiring farmers in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. In my work across West and North Africa, for example, I have been able to leverage my knowledge and experience in international negotiations and agreements to support capacity related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Managing a complex project and a team that works with more than 300 subsistence-level farmers to integrate fruit and timber trees into their farm lands, while improving incomes and conserving biodiversity, and at the same time informing national-level dialogues related to leveraging international carbon market funding, combines my undergraduate training with my graduate coursework. This has proven to be an ideal match and a rewarding career.
Throughout the five years since leaving the Tufts campus, I have found the Fletcher community to be incredibly strong. Whether meeting Fletcher alumni within the greater U.S. government community abroad or finding myself seated next to a fellow 2010 graduate on a flight to West Africa, the sense of community remains strong even after graduation. I am proud to be a member of the Fletcher alumni network and enjoy being able to leverage what I learned in Medford in my work across the ocean.
Is it too late to write about the Paris Climate Talks? I thought not. In fact, I’m not going to write much of my own, but Fletcher is well represented at the talks and in the study of environment issues, and I collected some links for you.
First, for general info on COP21, you could do worse than to check out the Tufts Sustainability Office’s page. Note that members of the Fletcher community are tweeting about the event — Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher and PhD Candidate Rishikesh Bhandary, and there’s a Twitter feed for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
And some other stories:
Daniel Reifsnyder, a 2014 graduate of the Fletcher PhD program, is co-leading the climate negotiations that culminated in Paris.
Finally, you can read about fall semester events organized by the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
Tagged with: CIERP
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