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Last summer at this time, we were staggering off of weeks of interviewing to fill three positions (out of a total of seven) in Admissions.  This summer we’re thrilled to have a stable cast of characters.  One of those newer staffers, Christine, suggested that we reintroduce ourselves, and that we do so by describing our summer activities.  Even better, Christine offered to do all the work.  ( 🙂 Happy blogger, me!)

So the next three posts will come from Christine, who has carefully curated each of our Admissions pals’ submissions.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.  And when you receive an email from one of us in the coming months, please feel free to offer your thoughts on our movie, book, or vacation choices.  For today, let me just recap who’s who.  We all do a bit of everything, so I will simply point out the key distinguishing features of our roles.

  • Christine Richardson — your first contact in the Admissions Office, sitting at the front desk and answering many of your phone calls and emails
  • Dan Birdsall — one of the associate directors and Admissions liaison to the LLM program (also the only one among us to have graduated from Fletcher!)
  • Katherine Sadowski — our data and systems expert, who may also be on the other end of your email exchange
  • Laurie Hurley — Admissions director (i.e., our boss) and liaison to the MA program
  • Liz Wagoner — another associate director and our social media guru
  • Kristen Zecchi — MIB admissions director who also oversees many programmatic and organizational aspects of the MIB program

Last, aside from generally doing the blogging, I’m the liaison for the PhD program.

You can use these brief descriptions as reference while you read Christine’s posts for the next three days.  Enjoy!


CIERP logo_webBlueFletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) just celebrated a birthday — its 20th!  To mark this milestone in the history of environment study at the School, CIERP compiled a list of some of the highlights of its work, which I’m featuring today.  Also of note:  The Center has a new director.  Prof. Kelly Sims Gallagher, a Fletcher alum and current member of the faculty, will lead CIERP as it enters its second 20 years.


CIERP by the Numbers

  • CIERP faculty members have published research results in more than 70 refereed journal articles, six books, 62 book chapters, and 70 research reports, conference papers, and other articles.
  • Since its inception, CIERP has raised more than $4.6 million in grant funding.
  • In 2012, five of Fletcher’s 17 graduating PhDs were IERP students.
  • Since 2002, CIERP has funded more than 65 external summer internships and provided $500,000 in tuition and living stipend support to IERP students.
  • Since 1992, CIERP has hired more than 300 research assistants and 60 teaching assistants.
  • Since 2009, CIERP has hosted four pre-doctoral fellows and eight post-doctoral research scholars — the first ever post-doctoral research fellows at Fletcher.
  • Since 2009, CIERP professors have tallied more than 90 media appearances, including interviews and numerous quotations in sources such as Bloomberg, WGBH, USA Today, PRI “The World,” and The Boston Globe, among others.
  • In the last year, CIERP has hosted 32 workshops, seminars and conferences on campus.

CIERP Highlights

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It’s May 1, the date when incoming international students submit the first round of paperwork to kick off the process to obtain a U.S. visa to study at Fletcher.  Most will work closely with Carol Murphy, our International Student Advisor.  But in the Admissions Office, we’re also fortunate that Christine came to Fletcher from a position where she was the visa expert.  So, for all our international students, here’s Christine’s explanation of the steps of this complicated process. 

You’ve been admitted and you have decided to enroll!  You are excited about starting your studies in the United States.  You are already starting looking at housing and talking with students on the Admitted Student Facebook page.  But wait!  There is one more big step that you, the international student, need to take: applying for a visa.

Some of you may be familiar with the process already and know terms like I-20, SEVIS, liquid and available funds, and I-94 card. But for those of you who are new to all of this, I am here to help!


  1. Certification of Funds:  Your first step is to complete the Certification of Funds form.  It is extremely important that you follow the directions exactly and provide all the needed materials so it does not delay the visa process.  As you already know, the form is due today, but please note that you cannot apply for a visa more than 120 days from the start of the school term.
  2. The I-20 Once your Certification of Funds has been approved, the International Student Advisor will issue the I-20.  This document will contain your SEVIS number, available funds, and school information.  You must have this with you when you attend your visa interview, when you enter the United States, and when you arrive at Fletcher.
  3. Pay the SEVIS feeThe SEVIS fee can be paid online via credit card for most countries.  There are a few restrictions, though, so if you have questions, check first with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you.  If you are traveling with dependents (spouse or children), you will NOT need to pay a SEVIS fee for them.  The fee is only for the student.
  4. Complete the DS-160 with photograph:  You will complete the form online, pay the DS-160 fee, upload a passport-sized (two inches by two inches) photograph and print the form to bring for your interview.  If you are traveling with dependents, a form and fee will needed for EACH of them.  I recommend you complete the DS-160 at least two days before your interview.
  5. Schedule an Interview: Once you have received your I-20, paid the SEVIS fee, completed the DS-160, and obtained photographs, you can schedule your interview with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy.  Most interviews can be scheduled online, however please check with your specific consulate or embassy.  Many of the consulates have a website to answer questions about how they approach the process, such as this one from the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai.
  6. Prepare for the Interview: The interview is one of the most important parts of the visa process.  The consular officer will approve or deny your visa based on your answers and preparedness during the interview. Make sure that you are prepared to answer questions like:  Why do you want to study in the United States?  Why can you not study in your home country?  What do you plan on doing after you have completed your studies? Do you have any relatives in the United States?  Where do they live?  It is important that you are honest with the officer, but you do not need to share more information than what is directly asked of you.
    • Make sure you bring to the interview:  your passport, I-20, DS-160, photographs, Certification of Funds and supporting documents, test scores, acceptance letter, and any other pertinent information.
    • Obtaining Your Visa: Once your application has been approved, the visa officer will take your passport from you so that they can put in the visa stamp.  The process varies by consulate or embassy, so make sure you ask how long it will take and how you will get your passport back.  The Department of State offers information about visa wait times by country on its website.
  7. Travel to the United States:  You are finally on board and about to touch down on U.S. soil!  On the airplane, you will fill out an I-94 card.  Don’t be fooled by its small size:  this is THE most important document to have with you.  If you lose this, it is extremely costly to replace, takes a lot of time, and can jeopardize your visa standing.  Once off the plane, you will go through immigration and customs.  An immigration officer will check your documents (make sure you pack everything listed above in the interview section in your carry-on), stamp your passport and I-94, and let you through.  Welcome!

The visa process is complicated, so make sure that you ask questions to the International Student Advisor, Carol Murphy, or the consulate/embassy. Become familiar with the Student Visas website and your consulate/embassy website.

Safe travels and we look forward to meeting you!


It’s March, and for Fletcher Admissions, March=BUSY.  We’re still reading applications (a few stragglers for the MALD and MA programs, and a new batch that arrived by the March 1 deadline for the LLM and MIB programs).  The assorted Admissions Committees are finalizing decisions as quickly as possible, leading the way for scholarship consideration.  Waitlist candidates are being identified.  All of those steps, of course, lead to the ultimate release of decisions.  And meanwhile, there’s other day-to-day work that still needs to be done (writing for the blog, for example).

The pace takes a little toll on all of us, but none so much as Laurie, the captain of the Admissions ship.  Which is why it was Laurie, rather than another Admissions team member, who told us that in the wee hours one night, she saw the numbers displayed on her digital clock as GPAs.  These imagined students improved in their academic performance from 3:00 to 3:59, but there were no GPAs of 3.6 to 3.99, jumping instead to 4:00.

This is where Admissions work drives the mind, for some of us at least.  In my case, I have my eye on April, which will be very busy, too, but a different kind of busy.  Even the prospect of variety is enough to get me through the zany month of March.


When I made my annual plea for staffers to write about their reading days, Dan jumped forward to volunteer.  Which is excellent, because Dan has an adorable dog, and reading days are always enhanced by the company of an adorable dog.  Here’s how things went last week for Dan and Murray.

There are lots of nice things about a day at home reading applications.  Sleeping in a bit on a Wednesday is a treat.  I also find it easier to focus on reading closely without the intrusion of various other projects.  And when the weather reports in New England break out the phrase “bitter cold,” you know it’s a day made for staying in.  Bring it on, applicants!

Now about that “sleeping in.”  I live farther from Fletcher than some, so getting going at 7:30 feels almost like a weekend to me, though even our dog Murray isn’t awake yet.

Without fail, my first thought upon surveying a stack of applications is “this shouldn’t take too long.”  Doesn’t look like so much, right?

A few things to keep in mind:  1. Note that my application pile is considerably larger than the ones in back, which are my wife’s high school English portfolios, still to be graded.  To be fair, she’s been working through hers for the past several days, and each represents a semester’s worth of work.  But still, my pile is bigger, so I win.  2. You may have heard elsewhere that we read every part of the application.  Seriously.  We really do.  Some files go more quickly than others; while a decision is sometimes pretty easy to determine, many times I find myself picking through an application several times, and sitting and thinking about it for a few minutes before deciding.  The point is that this stuff takes a while.

Reading Fletcher applications is fascinating and humbling.  In the first few hours of my day, I’ve “met” World Food Programme staffers, Marines with multiple overseas deployments, fair trade researchers, clean energy specialists, a couple of Peace Corps volunteers, and an engineer focusing on post-Fukushima safety regimes, and I’m sitting here in sweats and a hoodie trying to avoid paper cuts.  Time for some breakfast, I think.

Reading days are all about pacing.  I like to make a bit of a dent in the day’s task before my first reward.  On a sub-zero January day, the menu choice is a no-brainer – an egg white, veggie bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a coffee refill.  (Coffee isn’t part of the pacing/reward paradigm, if you were wondering.  It’s considered a reading day staple food, and therefore is available at all times.  This is cup #2). Applicants, I apologize for any errant grease stains I may or may not get on your files.

After another couple hours, it’s time for another break.  On these frigid days, poor Murray doesn’t get to go outside as much as he’d like (which, in a perfect world, would be always), but he still needs a stretch every now and then, and so do I.  It’s nice to take a breather, and having me energized and alert is to your benefit as an applicant.

Remember that cold I mentioned?  I wasn’t kidding.  Hard not to feel on your toes after a few minutes in this kind of weather – it’s a cold day out when even ice cream freezes.

Back at my reading station, I’m making progress.  While I read about the experiences of Supreme Court clerks, gender-based violence researchers, and youth NGO founders, Murray is hard at work on his own project: sunbathing.

I find it’s easy to lose track of time on reading days.  I can get into a groove and not realize that several hours have passed.  I don’t really notice that my pile is dwindling, until it hits me that I’m on my last application of the day.  Maybe it’s yours? 

I feel a nice sense of accomplishment, and in serious awe of our pool of candidates. Murray, on the other hand, is harder to impress. Looks like it’s time to suit up for another jaunt into the frozen outdoors.


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Last week, Liz and three other APSIA colleagues (nicknamed the G4) climbed into a van and toured the south.  I’m a happy blogger because she wrote about it AND took a bunch of photos, which she arranged far more artfully than I ever do!  Here’s Liz’s well-documented report.

My first travel experience with Fletcher!

Though I’ve traveled a lot in my roles prior to Fletcher, I had never experienced group travel before, and had never embarked on a minivan trip with colleagues from other schools.  I’ll admit, I was a little nervous leading up to the trip, as I had only been at Fletcher a little over a month and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  That said, I was also really excited to try something new, meet new people, and see some parts of the U.S. that I had only ever flown over!   I packed up my favorite suitcase and headed to Logan Airport to start this next work adventure with an open mind and my camera at the ready.  My trip began on a Friday in Washington, D.C., where I worked an Idealist Fair, and then I headed further south on Sunday to Nashville (otherwise known as music city) to meet up with the rest of the G4.

A little background info:  “G4” is a group of four schools consisting of SAIS (Johns Hopkins), SIPA (Columbia) and Georgetown MSFS, in addition to Fletcher.  We plan travel each year to college campuses across the country and join forces in meeting students.  We’ve been traveling like this for over 30 years and everyone looks forward to these particular recruiting trips!  The idea is that there are a lot of similarities between our schools, but we also have unique characteristics that make us each who we are.  We give school presentations and answer questions at every visit, while highlighting what makes each of the four schools similar and different.

Before starting the G4 trip, I got to spend some time in D.C. after the Idealist event.  Here are some pictures from my day off on Saturday, which was spent sightseeing and enjoying the magnificent weather!

From D.C., I flew down to Nashville on Sunday to meet up with the other schools and begin our G4 Southern Swing, which started on Monday morning.  I had never been to Nashville before so I spent Sunday afternoon exploring the downtown area and checking out the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It was neat to see all the live music venues and even cooler to hear all the different music as you walked around town.  I loved that no matter where I turned I could hear live music from every direction.

We met up Sunday night for an amazing dinner at Merchants (I highly recommend the soup/sammie combo) and then headed out first thing Monday morning for visits at Fisk University and Belmont University.  We then drove from Nashville over to Sewanee, TN to visit the University of the South.  Everyone said the drive would be stunning and it didn’t disappoint.  We drove over the Cumberland Plateau, which had incredible views of the mountains and valleys for as far as the eye could see!  If you have the opportunity, definitely take a drive from Nashville to Monteagle, TN.

The next morning we left Tennessee and made our way down to Atlanta for a few days with visits to Morehouse/Spellman, Emory, Agnes Scott, and the University of Georgia out in Athens.  It was neat for me to see all the different campuses and I was especially captivated by the size of the football stadiums (I’m from New Hampshire – we don’t have anything like that back home!).  From Atlanta we went to Gainesville, Florida to visit Florida A&M and University of Florida, and we ended our tour in Tallahassee at Florida State University.  All-in-all it was a wonderful experience; I learned lots of new things and made some great new friends!  I’m looking forward to my next G4 trip to Southern California in a few weeks!  Enjoy the pictures from the trip below.  Take note:  Fletcher is everywhere, even on the UF campus (see first pic)!

You can catch up with us at more recruiting events next week in NY, DC, Atlanta, and Chicago (sign up here) or at our next G4 trip which heads to Mexico and Texas in early November.

Until next time!

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This year’s Admissions Intern staff includes three old-timers and three newbies.  Of the three new additions to the staff, two are first-year students and one is a second year.  According to annual tradition, it’s time to introduce the people (in addition to the returning Katie, Hillary, and Ariel) who may answer the phone when you call, or your email when you write.

Hi! I am a first-year MALD student originally from the Washington, D.C. area.  I studied history and international relations at Boston University as an undergraduate, and am excited (with some trepidation given my now somewhat mythologized memories of winter) to be back in New England!  Prior to starting at Fletcher, I spent two years working on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  I plan to continue studying South and Central Asia through concentrations in International Security Studies and a possible self-designed Field of Study on political transitions.  I look forward to answering your questions throughout the admissions process!

Hi Everyone!  I am Juanita and I am a first-year MALD student.  Though I belong to a military family, I consider Tennessee to be my home.  I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergraduate, and worked in Washington, D.C. and Kenya prior to enrolling at Fletcher.  While at Fletcher, my Fields of Study will be International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution and International Business Relations.

Though I’ve only been on campus for a little over one month, I am excited to say that Fletcher has, by far, exceeded my expectations. One of the things I quickly realized about Fletcher is that there are so many opportunities to participate in activities, attend seminars, and join clubs.  In my dream world, I would do EVERYTHING, but sadly there are only 24 hours in the day.  On the academic side, thus far, I have been able to enroll in courses with MIB and PhD students, engage in discussions with classmates and professors who have real-world experiences in industries that interest me, as well as begin my internship in the Admissions Office.  As an Admissions intern, I look forward to helping you all in the near future!

I’m a second-year MALD student, and Fletcher has exceeded my expectations on an academic and personal level.  I have deepened my understanding of international affairs and sharpened my analytical skills with Fletcher’s interdisciplinary curriculum.  In addition, the professional experience and knowledge of Fletcher’s U.S. and international students have enriched my learning in the classroom.  Since my regional focus is the Middle East and South Asia, it is extremely useful to be able to have informative exchanges of viewpoints with international students from those areas.

Meanwhile, I have absolutely enjoyed living in the Boston region and developing an attachment to a historic and culturally rich region of our country.  From the Freedom Trail and the historic and narrow streets of Boston, to the Sam Adams brewery and the beautiful seasonal foliage, I have come to love the Northeast.  At the same time, the opportunity to learn and live with Fletcher’s international student body has expanded my knowledge of, and admiration for, the different cultures (and foods) represented here.

I am happy to be working for the Admissions Office, and it is a joy to explain to prospective students the benefits that Fletcher can offer in academics and a vibrant spirit of community.

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Bringing in new staff members is always a challenge, which makes the Fletcher Admissions old-timers even happier that our summer of hiring yielded a great trio of new colleagues!  I’ve asked our new team members to introduce themselves.  Without further ado, please meet Katherine (who started on August 15, two weeks ahead of her fellow newbies), Christine, and Liz.

As a Tufts undergraduate, I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Fletcher.  I remember walking up and down Packard Ave. several times a day, occasionally puzzling over the sign that said “Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.”  Tufts didn’t have a law school, did it?  I made it through four years without ever breaking into the Fletcher bubble, aside from attending a few sessions in ASEAN Auditorium.

I was a sociology major with a focus on social inequalities and social change, and I have a great affinity for both sociological data and education-related issues.  After graduation, I took a job in Washington, D.C. as a contractor for the National Center for Education Statistics, focusing on the state of primary education in the U.S.  Though I enjoyed the research, I deeply missed my Boston community and craved qualitative work that focused on the individual stories behind the statistics.

Enter The Fletcher School.  Though my path to Fletcher was atypical in the sense that I did not discover a profound passion for international affairs while living abroad (yet), I am thrilled to be a part of this incredible community of brilliant and inspiring people, absorbing stories about their experiences (and of course, poring over all of the sociological data that flows through the Admissions Office).  I am always happy to talk to students and visitors about Tufts and my intense love of Cambridge/Somerville, and I am excited to take on this new role as admissions season gets underway!

There is nothing quite like the smell of manufactured air, the taste of slightly questionable food, or the feeling you get as the wheels leave the runway.  Growing up in a traditional setting north of Boston, I had a less than traditional start in the world.  My mother was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines, and I spent my early years accompanying her on trips, enjoying every minute of it.  Whether they realized it or not, this is how my parents gave me the travel bug.  My appetite for new experiences both here and abroad is what drove me to take many trips across the pond and indulge in everything Europe had to offer.  Even the thrill of almost being hit by a London black cab, as I looked the wrong way to cross the street, was worth it!

At my college in upstate New York, and then moving into the world as a starry-eyed graduate, I knew I had to keep an international perspective in my life.  After a brief period coordinating visas for 200 MBA students, I made my way to Fletcher.  I have enjoyed every moment of my work in the Admissions Office so far, and am looking forward to learning more about our fantastic student body.  And as I keep adding to my travel wish list, feel free to stop in and share your stories!

When people ask me where I’m from, I sometimes laugh and tell them, “all over.”  I was born in Salt Lake City, lived in Montana and Wyoming (Jackson Hole anyone?!), and then moved east, all before elementary school.  Moving was a theme when I was a child, and I spent time in several states around New England, though I consider New Hampshire “home.”

I attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (GO BOBCATS) for my undergrad studies, where I majored in rhetoric.  (Yes, that was indeed a major!)  I loved my time at Bates, where I played varsity squash and was lucky enough to live abroad in London.  London afforded me lots of travel opportunities, and weekends were spent visiting every country I could, which is where my love of travel (and IR) originated.

Post college I found myself in “beantown,” working for Boston University in graduate business school admissions.  During my seven years at BU, I traveled quite a bit, recruiting all over India, Asia, and Europe, and most major cities in the U.S.  Favorite destinations include Seattle, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.  While working, I also pursued my master’s in education, focused on higher education administration.  All that aside, my other favorite part of my time at BU was definitely working with our public & nonprofit (PNP) MBA program, as I really connected with those students in particular.  It was through my work with PNP that I became interested in working for a program like Fletcher, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the great admissions team here!  It was the people of Fletcher — the faculty, staff, students and alums — that were the draw for me.  Each person I have met has been incredible; the Fletcher community is infectious and so inspiring and makes me excited to go to work each day.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming admissions cycle and am excited to become an active member of the Fletcher community myself!


Yesterday morning, the Admissions Staff “retreated” to my living room for a chance to meet uninterrupted by phone calls, visitors, etc.  Our three new staff members, Katherine, Liz, and Christine, jumped right in to hash out some questions, and also (we hope) took a big step in understanding how the year goes and the office runs.

And then we went to lunch.  I live half a block from a Chinese restaurant with a lunch buffet that, given our tight time schedule, seemed like just the ticket.  So we enjoyed some food and conversation, followed by the presentation of fortune cookies.  While we hoped for predictions related to this year’s admissions process, the selection we received includes only one that could be called a “fortune.”  The rest are more like strange advice.

And what to make of my fortune?

Following lunch, we walked back to the house, noting that every downhill has its uphill and that failure can be glorious, and hopeful for a surprising gift.  Then we grabbed a stranger off the street to take a team picture for us.  He took two shots.  In one, Kristen’s eyes were closed, and in the other, Christine appeared to be napping, so I took one more.

That’s Christine, Katherine, Laurie and Kristen in back; Dan and Liz up front.  Kristen accused me of trying to avoid being in the photo.  Honest, Kristen, I wasn’t — just going with the best of the pix.  I promise that I’ll be in the next team photo.


In just a few minutes, I’ll be heading across campus to a university-wide event celebrating the recipients of the 2012 Tufts Distinction Awards.  And one of the awardees this year is Fletcher Admissions’s own Laurie Hurley, who has been recognized in the Extra Mile category.  Laurie is truly an Extra Miler — a double Jumbo with a special dedication to Tufts!  And Fletcher applicants benefit annually from the tone Laurie sets for our work.

The complete list of recipients shows the breadth of Tufts University.  With each year’s awards (particularly the three years that I served on the selection committee), I have learned something new about running a veterinary school, providing dental care from an academic setting, guiding future doctors, or supporting undergraduates.  By U.S. standards, Tufts is a small university, but it is one with unusual reach.

So off we go to celebrate Laurie’s accomplishments!  Congratulations, Laurie!!


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