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In a bit of blog housekeeping this month, I created a separate tag for each of our Student Stories bloggers.  Now you can follow the full stories of the students who blogged for two years – Mirza, Roxanne, and Scott.  In addition, you might like the posts written by Maliheh in the first year of the Student Stories project.  She graduated at the end of that year, so there are fewer posts for her.  Read the posts from oldest to newest, if you want to follow the students’ paths from start to finish.

 

The second new student who will be blogging throughout her two years at Fletcher has actually already been heard from, when she and Miranda wrote about technology studies at Fletcher.  I met Aditi last spring, and I made a note to contact her in the fall to see if she would blog for us.  My email request to her crossed paths with her offer to write the first post — I’m really happy to have an eager writer.  Today, Aditi introduces herself.

Aditi_Patel JPGI am a first-year MALD student, (still thinking about) concentrating in International Business Relations and Development Economics.  As you have read in a past post, my main interests are in the use of digital technology for development programs, so I also plan to weave that interest into my coursework.

Before Fletcher, I worked back home in Mumbai at a non-profit called Dasra, doing a combination of fundraising and impact assessment work.  Having been in the Boston area for my undergraduate degree at Wellesley College, I’m really excited to experience the fall again, with all its beautiful colours — but nervous about being back in the Boston winter.  (My friends have informed me that I’m not the most pleasant person to be around when it’s cold.)

In the spirit of sharing my Fletcher journey with the readers of this blog, here are some of the things about Fletcher that most surprised me when I arrived here:

  • The MALD program has a very flexible curriculum
  • Fletcher has a wonderful sense of community

Just kidding!  I know that those are facts that are repeated over and over, and that everyone applying to Fletcher has probably heard them before.  So here are a few things that really were surprises:

  • They’re not exaggerating! Everyone is REALLY NICE at Fletcher, and the prevailing culture and environment here is one that takes great pride in kindness.  A not uncommon example: I have the wrong edition of a textbook for a class, and one of my classmates helped me out (without me having to ask) by sending me photos of every single assigned problem in the book so I could make sure I had the correct homework.
  • The sunsets here are breath-taking.  I definitely did not except beautiful sunsets in Medford, Massachusetts — but the sun setting over the Fletcher Field is an incredible sight.
  • The amount of time students get with our professors outside of class, through office hours and meetings.  Even when I have reached out to professors whose classes I’m not currently in, they have been very approachable and willing to chat.
  • A) The number of events and receptions that involve (free) food and drinks, and B) the importance placed on events and receptions that involve (free) food and drinks.  These are values I appreciate deeply.

I haven’t had a day so far at Fletcher that’s been the same as any other, and so I’m constantly finding new things to be surprised by.  I look forward to sharing all these aspects of my two years here with the Admissions Blog!

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Adapting to a new application system meant we weren’t sure how many student staff members we would need this year.  It turned out we need one more than we first introduced in October.  Today, meet David, our newest student intern hire.

Davd THi everyone!  I am a first-year MALD, focusing on democratization and human security.  I am particularly interested in transitional governments, former communist countries and Latin America.  I am a first-generation American, born and raised in Wheaton, IL.  I attended DePauw University for my undergraduate studies and majored in political science and Spanish.  Prior to Fletcher, I lived in the Czech Republic teaching high school English on a Fulbright grant.  I have also completed internships with The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the U.S. State Department.

While this is my first semester at Fletcher, I have found it tremendously easy to get involved and have really enjoyed becoming part of the Fletcher community.  I am currently a researcher on a joint Fletcher-ICRC study on conflict migration in the Sahel, co-president of the European Club, and a member of the Tufts Refugee Assistance Program.  Outside the classroom, I love hanging out with other Fletcher students, exploring Boston, and venturing out to find new restaurants and breweries in the area.  I look forward to hearing from you soon!

 

Next up among our first-year student bloggers is Alex, who introduces himself here.  He has spent eight years abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from The College of William and Mary.

Alex SHi everyone, my name is Alex Schulte, and I look forward to contributing to the Fletcher Admissions Blog during my next two years here.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself, and why I’m so excited to be at Fletcher.

My passion is finding creative solutions to difficult problems.  Specifically, I am interested in figuring out how to bring clean energy technology to commercial scale in order to help address three of the biggest and broadest issues we face today: 1) running our economy more efficiently and productively; 2) easing geopolitical tensions that arise from securing and allocating conventional energy resources; and 3) maintaining a sustainable environment for future generations.  I believe that clean technology represents one of the 21st century’s greatest opportunities to create a more prosperous and inclusive world.

The energy sector is complex and global, and requires a very firm grasp of both international business and policy.  Before Fletcher, I was already working to develop the experience and skills necessary to operate effectively in this area, including:

  • Consulting at Monitor Deloitte for emerging-market and defense clients, which exposed me to world-class strategic planning and data analysis skills.
  • Managing the start-up of a multi-million dollar nutritional food production business in Ethiopia, which taught me the tactical side of entrepreneurship in a difficult environment.
  • Working at a Chinese nuclear energy joint venture in Beijing, which gave me experience analyzing a novel clean energy technology and its competitive situation.

I learned a lot from these experiences.  Most importantly, I discovered that I still have a lot to learn.  This is why I am excited to be starting at The Fletcher School’s Master of International Business (MIB) program, focusing on finance and energy.

On the finance side, I recognized my need for further education in financial matters when I was confronted with the challenge of securing a $5 million loan for my business in Ethiopia.  Since starting at Fletcher, I have already learned concepts in my Corporate Finance class that are directly applicable to this experience.  Furthermore, I look forward to learning even more from the International Financial Management and International Business Transactions classes I will take next semester.

On the energy side, I realized that a more structured and comprehensive understanding of the energy landscape would have been useful when I was conducting market analyses for the Chinese nuclear energy firm.  The insights I have gained from my Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy class are invaluable, and I look forward to taking International Energy Policy next semester.  Already, the MIB program has provided me with the broader contextual intelligence that I need, and the intellectual rigor that I crave, to be successful in a sector as complex as energy.

Possibly even more important than the content of my education are the relationships I am forming.  At Fletcher, I am surrounded by a community of peers and professors who are also interested in the intersection of business and international affairs, and crosscutting solutions to solving global problems.  I am honored and excited to have joined the Fletcher community, and to attend one of the foremost international affairs schools in the world.  I look forward to taking you with me on my journey through the MIB program.

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Today I’d like to introduce the first of our first-year Student Stories bloggers.  Ali is in the MIB program, but her path to Fletcher was not the typical one:  she is one of the very first students who have enrolled after applying via the Map Your Future pathway to admission. 

Ali (in purple) at the center of an MIB student picnic.

Ali (in purple) at the center of an MIB student picnic.

Three years ago, I heard about The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy for the first time.  I was an undergraduate political science major, interning with the U.S. Department of State — an institution loaded with Fletcher alumni — and applying to graduate school seemed like a good next step.  I was disheartened when the Admissions Committee told me that I was a good candidate, but that I needed more professional experience.  I excitedly, but begrudgingly, accepted a place in the school’s first group of students admitted through Map Your Future — a program designed for Fletcher-destined undergraduates who just need a bit more “something,” i.e. professional experience, international travel, language proficiency, etc. — and scheduled myself to begin in August 2014.

Halfway through my first semester at Fletcher now, I can’t imagine not having those two years of work experience at Fulbright Belgium, and life, under my belt.  My classes this semester are Managerial Economics, Corporate Finance, Accounting, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Corporate Management of Environmental Issues — topics I would have never chosen before I managed a program budget and realized the difference that the private sector can make in public and non-profit initiatives.  My friends include classmates who are two to six years older than me and are well-traveled veterans of big name organizations such as Target, Boren Fellowships, and Procter & Gamble.  I try to think about what I could have added to conversations with these people two years ago, and it makes me happy the Admissions Committee forced me to wait.

During the next two years, I’ll be taking a mix of business, policy, and social-impact driven courses to learn the hard skills that will hopefully land me a job in a consulting firm or private company, where I can promote sustainability and social impact from the inside out, and bring people from business, government, and non-profits to the same table.  This happens every day during lunchtime at Fletcher, so hopefully the goal isn’t too big of a stretch.

I got to practice these convening and networking skills at a recent exciting event — a Net Impact conference in Minneapolis, MN, where I met executives from top companies like Southwest Airlines, Brown-Forman, and Starbucks, who already consider their companies’ social impact.  I’ve read cases about their companies’ business decisions in many of my classes already, and it was exciting to discuss the situations with them in person.

Career transitions between sectors are a common story at Fletcher, and I hope that Map Your Future students like me will soon be, too.  I hope you enjoy reading my journey with these experiences over the next two years.  Maybe I’ll meet some of you during your admissions interviews soon!

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Liam, 2014-2Student blogger, Liam, is a current member of the military.  For his first blog of his second year in the MALD program, he describes Fletcher life for veterans and active duty officers — the perfect topic for today’s Veterans Day holiday.

Veterans at Fletcher, while always a portion of the student body (Dean Stavridis, after all, is both a Fletcher MALD/PhD and a retired Navy admiral), are a small community within the school that has nonetheless grown steadily in recent years.  While the incoming class of 2013 was relatively light on active duty officers, it included many veterans, some remaining in the reserves and others completely transitioned from military service.  The incoming class of 2014 had an even larger veteran (and active duty) contingent, and the presence of veterans — both U.S. and international — at Fletcher helps add to the diversity of an already incredible student body.

From real-world experience and operational background in both training and combat, to advanced leadership and organizational skills, to past experience traveling the world and working with many cultures, the contributions that veterans make at Fletcher are invaluable, especially when combined with all the other incredible members of the Fletcher student body.

When I first arrived at Fletcher, I personally felt that nothing I had done in the military was all that special; all of my peers in the Army had effectively the same experiences and I did not feel I was unique.  Coming to Fletcher, I was amazed by how interested other students were in my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I was even more amazed to hear other students’ stories of their pre-Fletcher lives in various places and jobs around the world.  I have been blown away by the breadth of conversations and class discussions that will naturally flow when you combine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in South Sudan, lawyers who worked for the UN, and medical doctors who worked in IDP camps.

Fletcher has a student veterans group, Fletcher Veterans.  The group meets regularly for both social events and also community service projects.  In recent years the group has gotten together for activities ranging from an annual trip to a polo match outside of Boston, to volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, to hosting student panels on the state of veterans in America.  This year, in conjunction with other groups at school, the group is looking to expand its presence at Fletcher into the realm of leadership development.  And Fletcher Vets also gets together from time to time for simple social gatherings to tell old war and sea stories over a few drinks.

For veterans or active duty members considering Fletcher, I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to focus on security studies; I would say the majority of veterans at Fletcher focus on other areas, including a very high concentration of MIB candidates.  The openness and diversity of Fletcher’s curriculum make it easy to combine your experience with an amazing breath of academic subjects on a variety of topics.  For those who are interested in security studies, the International Security Studies Program, chaired by Professor Shultz, is a great program and consistently brings in world-class speakers from around the world, as I described in a post last year.  The ISSP fellows — senior military officers attending Fletcher on a one-year fellowship, in lieu of the Army War College or their services’ respective professional military education — add a great deal to both the classroom and student body.  As senior field grade officers who have led operational units, they bring a wealth of knowledge to Fletcher and also serve as exceptional mentors for active duty officers and veterans alike.

Veterans contribute a great deal to the Fletcher community.  If you are a veteran interested in Fletcher and have questions regarding VA benefits, academics, student life, or pretty much anything, please contact me (Liam Walsh) or the co-leaders of Fletcher Veterans, Pat Devane and Joel Tolbirt.

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Diane and I first met when she visited Fletcher about two years ago, and I conducted her evaluative interview.  Since her arrival at Fletcher in September 2013, representing the country of Australia, she and I have worked on several different projects together.  Her first post for her second year describes the perspective she brings after having completed a year at Fletcher.  

Broinshtein Diane 2Throughout my summer abroad, during which I interned in Northern Ghana, traveled to South Africa, visited home (Australia) twice, and finally made it back to Boston, I had time to reflect on the whirlwind that was my first year at Fletcher.  The academic year is extremely busy; long days are filled with classes, group assignments, individual study, talks by special guests, club meetings, and jobs.  I decided that this year there were some lessons I could take from last year and implement into my schedule.

Knowing what to say “yes” and “no” to is the first big lesson.  A student’s time at Fletcher is filled with amazing opportunities; however, the volume of these opportunities can be overwhelming.  I have learned it’s important to have one or two areas on which to focus my attention outside of classes.  For me, I enjoy being part of admissions activities, because they so heavily influenced my decision to attend Fletcher, and I have been active with the Admissions Office throughout the year.  The other area I am focused on is my Research Assistant position with the Feinstein Center.  This role provides an opportunity to build skills in an area in which I want to work upon graduation.  Fletcher also has so many wonderful social events, that I enjoy attending, such as the amazing Los Fletcheros (Fletcher’s resident cover band), and the cultural nights.  And I chose to take 4.5 classes this semester, so my weekly schedule is fairly full just attending classes and keeping up with assignments.

Because the schedule at Fletcher is so busy, this year I have committed to taking at least one day off a week and getting outside.  Whether it is kayaking on the Charles River, visiting local towns, hiking, a quick trip to New York, or being a tourist in Boston, it’s important to take time to leave the library and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  Fletcher, being located at Tufts University, also provides access to some excellent sports facilities; I personally enjoy going to the gym each morning, or playing squash with other students and staff from Fletcher.  Many students run with the Marathon team, or play tennis on the courts outside Fletcher, swim at the pool, or take advantage of the great facilities some other way.

One of the biggest decisions I made this year was to be more proactive in asking for help.  Asking for help at Fletcher is not difficult, whether it be booking a timeslot with the writing tutors, or seeing a professor during office hours.  The professors at Fletcher are extremely welcoming, and are keen to help students grasp the content they teach, happily taking time outside of the assigned office hours to sit with students and go over key concepts or help them understand an assignment.

These are just some of the lessons I learned last year and have implemented into my second year at Fletcher.  I am sure there will be many more lessons learned by the time graduation rolls around in May.

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With apologies for not revving up earlier in the semester, I’m happy to say that the Admissions Blog’s student writers are back in action.  We have three returning bloggers — Liam (MALD), Diane (MALD), and Mark (MIB).  Three first-year students — the “A Team” of Ali (MIB), Aditi (MALD), and Alex (MIB) — will soon be introducing themselves.

I’ve been fortunate that students frequently offer to write a post for the blog (as Aditi and Miranda did last week), and I sometimes give a new home to something they’ve written for a different medium (as I did with Colin’s Fletcher Fútbol report).  For the six bloggers who write over the continuum of the two years they spend at Fletcher, their posts should go beyond a single moment and leave readers with a sense of their evolution and breadth of interests over time.

Tomorrow, we’ll start by bringing back one of our returnees, Diane, who will talk about the perspective she brings to her second year.

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So here’s what I love about Fletcher students.  They are very committed to their studies and careers.  They offer support to undergraduates and they burst into the community and instantly create an organization and resource for students interested in technology.  But they are also really fun people, and a frequent autumn rallying point is the Fletcher Fútbol team.  Men and women with soccer/fútbol experience jump into their cleats and unite to compete with the teams from other area graduate schools.

When the team is successful, somehow the news even works its way to the staff.  Or sometimes it isn’t a mystery how we know.  Earlier this week, Colin, a first-year student, put his inner tabloid sportswriter to work with this Social List report on a match against Harvard Law School.

Chemistry may not be a course offered at Fletcher, but the members of Fletcher Fútbol clearly know a little something about it.  Coming off a disappointing loss in front of a home crowd to the business suits of Babson College last week, it would have been understandable for Fletcher Fútbol to be plagued with fears about their ability win a game, let alone score more than one goal in a contest.  However, buoyed by the enthusiasm that only a graduate school sports rivalry can create, and the camaraderie that can only be developed through shared struggle, they threw off the yoke of their previous shortcomings and played with a level of intensity that will surely leave the soccer gods pleased for weeks to come.

Upon arriving at the field, Fletcher Fútbol found the parking lot packed to capacity (somehow the stands were suspiciously empty though?) and intuitively sensed the magnitude of the game about to be played.  The chance had finally come to avenge the memories of broken noses that had haunted them since the 2013 season.  Only limited revenge would be possible though; certain members of the HLS team were supposedly unable to secure a legal injunction to protect themselves from the diplomatic wrath of Fletcher and thus they were only able to field 10 players for the game.

With the autumn air crisp and the stadium lights bright in the black night, it felt like all of Boston was watching as the game kicked off a little after 7pm.  From the start, Fletcher controlled the play in all areas of the field, moving the ball around at will.  But the team didn’t close on any of the opportunities they were able to create until Kiely unleashed a vicious volley from inside the eighteen that found the back of the net like a fish actively trying to be caught.  Unlike previous games though, this is not where the scoring would stop for Fletcher.  Albert and David would both score before the halftime whistle would blow.

In an attempt to reverse their fortune, HLS hoped to effectively counter Fletcher’s multi-pronged attack with a goaltending switch coming out of halftime.  It was all for naught though.  Minutes into the second half, Liam made a ballerina-esque run into the box and scored a goal, emphatically sending the message that the onslaught was not over yet.  Two additional goals followed.

At the end of the night, the imaginary scoreboard read 6-0 in favor of the diplomats from Fletcher.

And there you have it.  Sports is a natural focus for community building, and soccer/fútbol crosses international boundaries.  More than many Fletcher student activities, Fletcher Fútbol pulls the community together, whether on the field or on the sidelines.

Although Fletcher is its own unit of Tufts University, it can also be seen as the graduate program for the University’s International Relations department.  IR is one of the most commonly chosen majors for Tufts undergraduates and, because the major involves a relatively large number of requirements, the undergrad IR folks are pretty serious people.

Despite the occasional (o.k., annual) griping over undergraduates in Ginn Library, Fletcher students are genuinely supportive of their younger peers.  Here are two examples.

Last night, the Ralph Bunche Society (RBS) at Fletcher invited undergrads to learn about their experiences in the IR field.  RBS seeks to shine a light on the contributions that minorities and people of color have made in the field of international relations, and also to encourage students of color to consider educational and career opportunities in international affairs, which means this event was tied directly tied to the RBS mission.  The RBS Facebook page provides some nice descriptions of the presenters, who sought through their comments to pave the way for the undergraduates to follow in their footsteps.

On an ongoing basis, Fletcher students also guide undergraduates via the “Fletcher Mentors” program.  The program matches IR majors with Fletcher students who share similar academic or career objectives, in order to help the undergraduates develop their interests.  They might have one-on-one meetings, or attend group networking events, and there is an online discussion group.

Of course, having a robust undergraduate IR program also opens opportunities for Fletcher students to work as teaching or research assistants, and to attend relevant events sponsored by other units of the University.

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