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Every year I introduce our new graduate assistants, and I write posts as needed about new staff members.  But I generally (and inexcusably) neglect to tell you about the long-time staff.  In fact, you may be wondering whom I’m referring to when I mention Liz or Kristen, or another of my Admissions pals.  Today I’ll fix that.  Note that all of us do a little of everything, but each of us has greater responsibility for certain projects or programs.  My introductions focus on the activities that distinguish us from each other.  With that, please meet us!

In alpha order, we have:

Dan
Dan may be best known to blog readers as the human friend of Murray, our canine pal, but even more noteworthy is that Dan is the lone Fletcher graduate among us.  He had previously worked in international education, and a post-MALD position in Fletcher Admissions was a natural for him.  Dan is also the Admissions liaison to the LLM program.  He reads LLM applications and works with the program staff throughout the application process.

 

 

 

 


Jessica

Jessica is me!  In addition to the blog, I’m the Admissions link to the PhD program.  Anything else you might need to know about me has turned up in some past post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristen
Kristen is unlike the other members of the staff in that her desk is not within the Admissions Office.  She’s upstairs with other folks working on Fletcher’s business programs, reflecting her dual-focus.  Like the rest of us, she does a little of everything, but she manages the Admissions process for the MIB program, and also oversees some content aspects of the program itself.

 

 

 

 

 

Laurie
Laurie is the director of Admissions (the assistant dean, to be precise) and naturally she has a hand in everything.  Laurie doesn’t have a Fletcher degree, but she’s still a double Jumbo, with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tufts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz
You’ll hear from Liz if you have sent us a question about the May Your Future pathway to admission to the MALD or MIB program.  And once MYF applicants have been admitted, it’s Liz who provides them with a pre-enrollment Fletcher community.  Liz is also the master-organizer for our fall visit days and spring open houses.

 

 

 

 

 


Lucas

Lucas oversees our Slate application system with zen-like calm.  No matter what crazy request we make, he’s likely to make it happen.  The interview program took a step into the 21st century this year when Lucas created a mechanism for our volunteer interviewers to receive reminders and for them to file their reports directly into Slate.  It’s a behind-the-scenes change, but if you participated in an interview, you benefited from his work.

 

 

 

 

 

Marquita
Marquita is the newest member of the Admissions Staff and anyone who visits will find her out front in the office.  We gave her a couple of months to learn everything she would need to know about Fletcher, and then we passed her the task of organizing the winter break coffee hours.  Apparently, details do not faze Marquita.

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s the Admissions team.  You don’t need to worry about keeping track of who does what, but I hope this makes it clearer why you’re hearing from one of us rather than another.

 

With it’s completely unpronounceable acronym, the Annual Faculty and Staff Wait on You Dinner (AFSWOYD) is a student-organized event to raise funds for a non-profit organization of the students’ choosing.  Members of the faculty and staff get all aproned up and serve a catered dinner to attending students, who then have the opportunity to bid on a variety of items — both things and experiences.  In addition to a couple of servers, the Admissions Office offered up use of our interview rooms, with treats provided by the staff, during final exam week.  (Quiet study space always has value.)

The event raised more than $3,700, with the proceeds going to local organization Project Bread, which supports hunger-fighting programs throughout Massachusetts.

Liz shared a photo of her table.  She’s standing at the back on the left, and you can see student blogger, Mariya, at the front.

 

Last week you met the 2017-18 Admissions Graduate Assistants, and today I want to introduce Marquita, our new Admissions Assistant.  Marquita joined the team in September during one of the busiest weeks of the early semester.  Having survived that nuttiness, she has rapidly become an expert on all matters Admissions.  You may speak to her if you call, hear from her if you email, and you’ll almost surely be greeted by her if you visit.  I’ll let Marquita take it from here.

How did I get here?!

Before coming to The Fletcher School, I worked for about five years at Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy (SJP), a pre-K to grade 8 parochial school.  In my first year, I ran an after-school program for one of SJP’s four campuses.  While planning daily activities, managing staff, completing billing, and wrangling children ages three to 13, I realized this was not quite what I wanted for my future, at least not with that age group.

Being that I had enough “free” time on my hands, while still working at SJP, I enrolled in an online graduate degree program at what is now William James College and I completed my Master’s in Higher Education Student Personnel Administration in 2014.  At that point, I changed jobs at SJP and joined the business office to assist in the admissions and finance aspect of running a private school.  While there I wore many hats.  But what interested me most was the scholarship and financial aid portion of my work.  Before I knew it, three years had flown by and yet, somehow, I still was not using that degree that I had worked so hard for.  It was then that I knew I needed a change.  Through prior jobs, including SJP, and my master’s degree, I knew what I did not want to do and I was ready to figure out what I did want.  I applied for the staff assistant position within the Admissions and Financial Aid Office at Fletcher.  I knew this position would allow me to work with a more mature group of students as well as continue my interest in the admissions and financial aid process within higher education.  Now I am here and I am loving it! 😊

 

We’re kicking off our fall travel schedule this week!  By the end of the weekend, Liz, Dan, Kristen, and I will all have gone somewhere, whether for a day or for a more extended trip.  For an overview, check out our travel calendar.

As I write, I’m about to grab my bag and head for the T (subway) to South Station, where I’ll start my trip to the New York APSIA Graduate School Fair.  If you’ll be there, please be sure to say hi.  I have two alumni booked in to help and I’m looking forward to catching up with them as well as meeting future students.

 

The 2017 edition of the traditional year-end “Where the Hell is Fletcher” video is here!  It really needs no further introduction — you’ll figure it out.  Be sure to watch for Admissions’ own Liz at about 3:41, and enjoy!

A clever enhancement to the video comes from almost-PhD-graduate Rizwan, who (having successfully defended his dissertation) took a minute to plot the video locations on a map.

 

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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.

Murray toyMurray toy 2Foreign 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.

Murray napProfessional 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.

 

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teapotYesterday was my weekly at-home application reading day.  Reviewing applications is both engaging and exhausting.  It’s not that the work is difficult exactly, but it does require close attention and consistent focus throughout the day.  My Admissions pals and I have all found our preferred reading arrangements — whatever it takes to keep us moving through a virtual pile of applications.  I nearly always read in my kitchen, and yesterday was no exception.  Here’s how my day went.

7:30 — The house is mine.  I already have Slate opened up and waiting for me.  There’s a mishmash of applications in my queue (some put there by student readers, one MATA application (my second) that Laurie passed to me, some PhD applications that I need to check over for the basics), so I decide to start by reading everything in my queue before I grab more applications.  I’m fueled by a nice cup of tea.  A friend brought us tea from Sri Lanka and I’m enjoying drinking it from my new favorite tea mug that we picked up in London last month.

lapdesk8:30 — I need a quick bit of movement, so I sprint upstairs to shift some clothes from the washer to the dryer.  Then back to work.  I’ve been sitting with my legs up and my computer propped on my lap desk (bought specifically for this purpose).

9:45 — I’m making pretty good progress, but I need to move.  Time to put the computer on the kitchen table.  I’ve been selecting the application I read by opening my queue, closing my eyes, swirling my mouse over the list, and clicking a name.  Ultimately, it’s not too different from working through the list alphabetically, but it’s a more entertaining method.

11:00 — I’m steadily whittling down the queue but I need to get up and move again.  coffeeI put the kettle on, race upstairs to move the last of the washing to the dryer, sprint back down to make a pot of coffee while also eating a banana to refuel.  I chose a thematic mug to boost my focus.  Back to the queue.

12:23 — My queue is empty, and it’s time for lunch!  I’ve read the 20 files I started with, made these notes on the blog, answered a few emails.  Not a terrible pace, but not great either.  Maybe lunch will invigorate me.  Lentils and greens — not too photogenic, so I’ll spare you.

12:48 — Back to work.  Loaded up my queue and ready to go.  I also brewed a little more tea.  The coffee was decaf, so there’s no danger that I’ll become overly perky as I read your applications!

2:38 — I motored through a batch of applications, but then I hit a wall.  To reset, I washed all those dishes I had used earlier and changed venues — moved from the kitchen table to the counter.  I often think it would be nice to read in a coffee shop or in our local library, but taking time to “commute” steals from reading.

4:38 — Exactly two hours since I made my last note.  I’ve read about as much as I’m going to get to today, and I’ve had a nice “journey” through your stories.  In just these few hours, I’ve read about applicants with roots or experience in South Sudan, Japan, Korea, India, Somalia, Israel, Kuwait, Indonesia, and many locations in the U.S.  My applicants have been focused on education, security, humanitarian studies, the environment, negotiations, and just about every topic Fletcher offers.  In other words, a typical reading day!  And that’s why the work is energizing.  At the same time as I’m tired of staring at my screen, I’m excited to connect with all these folks who could be walking in the Hall of Flags in September!

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Though there’s a lot of overlap in the work done by each member of the Admissions team, we also have the projects that belong primarily to one or the other of us.  For me, in addition to writing/editing the blog, that would include coordinating the Admissions Committee for the MALD and MA programs.  The responsibilities start with hiring the students who sit on the committee (along with Dan this year) and continue through gathering feedback at the end of the process.  Along the way, everyone plays a role.  For example, Theresa ensures we’re fed and caffeinated (important!), Lucas “drives” the computer from which we see the application under discussion on the screen (and provides the behind-the-scenes details we need), and today, Liz is making it possible for one committee member to phone in.  My most important role this morning was to pick up the cookies that will go with the coffee.

Bringing together a group of students, staff, and faculty is both easy and difficult.  We all do our jobs, naturally.  But what we want is for students to feel comfortable expressing their views to professors who may be teaching them on other days, and for the professors to value the students’ unique perspective on the community.  A little conversation over coffee and lunch goes a long way toward bringing us together as more than a group of individuals.  And now I’m off, cookies at the ready, for our first committee meeting of 2016-17.

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The final trip of the Fletcher Admissions travel season was Laurie’s visit to Europe, which ended about two weeks ago.  The greatest distance was covered by Liz, when Fletcher joined several other schools for a trip to Southeast Asia.  Here’s her report, along with her photos.

In October, I participated in a great recruiting trip to Southeast Asia.  I traveled with colleagues from Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, and Georgetown MSFS.  You may be wondering why we travel together, since we’re all competitors.  The answer is that for over forty years we’ve traveled together to inform students about educational and career opportunities in international affairs.  We know many students will end up applying to all four schools, and so we work together to get the word out about our programs and to recruit students from around the world.

Our first stop was in Singapore.  We had a day to recover from our 27-hour flight across the world and so two colleagues and I decided to head over to Sentosa, an island just off Singapore.  There are two ways to get to Sentosa: train or cable car.  We decided to check out the cable car so we could really see the island.

Here are a few snaps from our trip:

Sentosa

Lpdp

Liz (third from left), travel companions, and LPDP host.

We had great school visits at Yale-NUS and National University of Singapore — where I was thrilled to meet faculty of both schools who were Fletcher alumni!  It was neat to tour the Yale-NUS campus, as it’s so new, and so lush with vegetation!  From there we flew to Jakarta, Indonesia for visits at the EducationUSA Center (@America), meetings with LPDP (the Indonesia Endowment for Education) and school visits to the University of Indonesia and UPH (Universitas Pelita Harapan).

@AmericaVisit
We ended our trip in Bangkok, Thailand.  Our time in Thailand was solemn, as His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej had just passed away.  Because the trip had been planned well in advance, we still hosted events at Thammasat University, as well as with the U.S. Embassy, and were grateful for those who were able to join us, despite the timing.

Overall the trip was great!  We got to eat some wonderful food, meet fantastic prospective students, and continue to spread the word about international affairs graduate schools!

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Orientation wraps up today and classes begin next week.  Faculty members have been spotted in the building, heading off to a meeting or joining new students for lunch.  But for us, a key marker of the start of the fall semester comes next week, when the Admissions staff will start three months when, on most days, someone will be on the road.

Broadly speaking, we travel for three reasons.  The first is to participate in graduate school fairs, generally all of those organized by APSIA and a few organized by Idealist or by business school-related groups.

Second, we travel to universities and other sites — throughout the U.S. and a revolving list of international destinations — with a few friendly peers.  These “Group of Five” trips, including Fletcher, Princeton/Woodrow Wilson, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins/SAIS, and Columbia/SIPA, might find representatives of each school in a plane or a van together en route to a week of visits.

And finally, we’ll travel to a few universities or workplaces throughout the year, but not with any particular guiding structure.  Sometimes a university invites us.  Sometimes we want to learn more about a school whose graduates have applied in significant numbers.

Maybe we’ll be traveling to a site near you!  You can find our travel schedule on our website.  Check back often — the list is still skeletal, but we’ll be filling it in over the coming weeks.

 

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