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As promised yesterday, four new students are joining the Admissions Blog to share their Fletcher stories.  First up is Kaitlyn, who traveled a path from Massachusetts to New York to three other countries, only to find her international affairs home back in Massachusetts.

Hi all!  My name’s Kaitlyn, I’m a MALD student and I’m really excited to share the next two years of my Fletcher journey with you.

I’m a local: I was born and raised in Sandwich on Cape Cod, and have been all over Massachusetts and New England.  This might shock you, but winter here is my favorite season.  (I’ve even gone winter camping!)  All that home-town savvy has come in handy when my peers want advice about where to visit, and how to survive the winter.  (Pro Tip: cotton is rotten.  Fleece and polyester are your best friends.)

Prior to Fletcher, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Writing from Ithaca College in New York, where it is is even snowier than Massachusetts.  At Ithaca, I came to the conclusion that while I loved writing, I wanted to find something important to do with it.  My search for that purpose led me to a minor in International Communications and an internship with a London politician.  As a result, I fell completely in love with international affairs as a junior in college – too late to change my major.

Fletcher was an easy choice.  My earlier pivot towards international affairs was more difficult.  After graduating from Ithaca, I felt unsatisfied with my job options, but with a bachelor’s degree in a subject that was decidedly not related to international affairs, I wasn’t sure  if I should commit to the career change.  I needed time and space to think it over.  So I spent a year teaching English in the Czech Republic and France, and then completed a year of service with AmeriCorps right here in “Beantown.”  Both were instrumental in my decision to study at Fletcher.

In Europe, I was immersed in cultures and languages with which I was wholly unfamiliar.  It was my first time arranging my own travel and visas.  More importantly though, it was 2015.  I planned my trip to the Czech Republic while listening to the BBC, day-by-day, documenting the Greek economic crisis, and I began teaching there at the height of the migrant crisis (about which my Czech students had a very different opinion than me).  Witnessing Europe’s migrant crisis through that lens affected me greatly and left me considering what I could study that would allow me to help people caught in migrant situations, which I could see the existing system was not equipped to deal with.  It meant that, by the end of that winter, the question I was asking myself was not: “Is international affairs right for me?”  Instead it was: “What program?” And: “What do I need?”

As I was researching master’s programs, I began a year of service with AmeriCorps, which exposed me to the stark realities faced by minorities and migrants in my own country.  The demographics of the Boston charter school where AmeriCorps placed me were half students who hadn’t succeeded in the public school system, and half who didn’t have the English level to matriculate into an American high school.  I once again had students who didn’t share my cultural or, often, language background.  And I had students who were refugees, or ought to have been.  It was a crash-course in cross-cultural relationship building and a sobering learning experience on the hardships faced by people driven out of their homes by poverty, violence, or disaster.  I hadn’t needed to travel to a different continent to learn about the realities of human migration, or how the current international system lets people fall through the cracks.  There was a whole microcosm of people with first-hand experience sitting in my Intro to English class, right at home in Massachusetts.

Human migration wasn’t the only thing closer to home than I thought.  When I found Fletcher, it didn’t take long for it to stand out as my first choice.  I was excited by the flexible curriculum and the Human Security field, and (contrary to most of my peers) even more excited by the prospect of another New England winter.  Fletcher seemed perfect.  And there it was – a 20 minute drive away.

I’ve been a student for a little over two months now, and it more than exceeds my expectations.  I’m in my favorite kind of place — a community of people with a wealth of diverse experiences.  I feel very fortunate that I get to learn with and from them everyday.

At Fletcher, I live in Blakeley Hall, an on-campus housing option specifically for Fletcher students.  It was a blessing coming out of AmeriCorps (a volunteer job) to skip the stress of searching for an affordable apartment.  And everyone here appreciates that Blakeley is a two-minute walk from class.  I love living with this vibrant slice of the whole Fletcher community — even if sharing a kitchen is a daily exercise in negotiation and patience.  Yes, the bedrooms are small, but I’m not in my room enough to notice.  I’m at events, or workshops, or splitting a table in the library’s “Harry Potter room” with my friends, while we study and appreciate our mutual obsession – coffee from the red machine outside the library door.

So here I am: done with mid-terms, and midway through the first course in the Human Security field.  I’m familiarizing myself with Turabian style citations and working a few hours a week with the Tufts Literacy Corps.  I also spent two weekends last month in a mediation certification program.  There are some challenges: I am still trying to improve my time management so I can fit in more clubs and events, and winter is coming a lot slower than I want.  One thing’s clear though – with my B.A. in writing, I feel right at home here.

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It’s always a pleasure for me to get to know students through their writing for the Admissions Blog, and in that spirit, I’m delighted to introduce four new bloggers for this year.  Joining Adi, Mariya, and Pulkit are Akshobh, Gary, Kaitlyn, and Prianka.  Like many of our past bloggers, Akshobh and Kaitlyn are students in the MALD program.  They’ll be writing throughout their two-year experience at Fletcher.  Prianka is the blog’s first LLM writer!  She’ll be at Fletcher for only one year, but she’ll provide a welcome glimpse into LLM life.  And Gary is a new student in the PhD program, and the first who will write consistently about his experience.  Students can enter the PhD program after completing the MALD or MIB, or they can apply after completing a master’s degree at another university.  Gary took the latter route.  We know he’ll be on campus for two years, and I hope he’ll be able to make time for the Admissions Blog throughout both years, but we’ll figure it out as we go.

All of the blog’s writers are volunteers who applied for the opportunity.  Many of our interactions consist of me reminding them over and over to submit a post, followed by them reminding me to publish what they’ve given me.  (They have the better excuse, but I do struggle sometimes to be systematic in my posting.)  They’ve been given assignments and deadlines, but within that structure, I want them to tell the story that best reflects their experience.  Flexibility to build around a core structure is a key aspect of many dimensions of the Fletcher experience.

The first of the posts from our new bloggers will appear tomorrow.  While you’re waiting, feel free to peruse past writing.  The Table of Contents I provided earlier this semester will help you figure out who’s who.

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It has been a pleasure to share the reports from students who participated in the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik last month.  The final report comes from Kevin, who is in the LLM program.

Over a long weekend in October, Fletcher’s Maritime Studies Program led a 37-person contingent to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Hosted by a non-profit and non-partisan organization based in Reykjavik, the assembly brings together an interdisciplinary network of representatives from government, academia, NGOs, and indigenous communities to discuss development of the Arctic and its global relevance.  For students honing the skills required to address complex problems from a multi-disciplinary perspective, the Arctic Circle Assembly offered a robust opportunity to learn about issues that will demand growing international attention in coming years.

Kevin (far right), Harris, and Katrina (whose report appeared on the blog last week).

While the conference agenda included a broad range of topics, as an American attorney with a Navy background, I found three to be particularly compelling.  Each illustrates the multi-disciplinary nature of emerging issues: (i) East Asian Engagement in the Arctic, (ii) Legal Uncertainties in a Changing Environment, and (iii) The Role of the U.S. Coast Guard in the Arctic.

East Asian Engagement in the Arctic.  Diplomatic representatives from China, Japan, and South Korea spoke during plenary meetings of the Arctic Circle Assembly, taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss their nations’ respective records of Arctic engagement and cooperation.  The representatives emphasized their nations’ contributions to Arctic scientific research, while referencing their desire for an increased role in Arctic governance.  The Chinese and Japanese representatives also specifically addressed opportunities for shared economic development.  Taken together, the statements illustrated the geopolitical implications of opening Arctic sea lanes and prospective resource development in the central Arctic.

Legal Uncertainties in a Changing Environment.  A number of speakers present for the Arctic Circle Assembly addressed implications of a changing Arctic environment for relevant legal regimes, from application of environmental protections under the Endangered Species Act in Alaska to unresolved questions associated with the United States’ voluntary exclusion from the UNCLOS regime and development of its continental shelf.  Senior representatives from Iceland, Russia, and the United States also discussed questions related to fisheries management and migrating fish populations, a topic with significant implications for both domestic economies and international relations.

The Role of the United States Coast Guard in the Arctic.  On the second day of the assembly, the Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral Charles Michel, spoke to the combined delegation from The Fletcher School and Harvard Kennedy School.  In a wide-ranging conversation, Admiral Michel discussed the size and significance of the United States icebreaking fleet, the Coast Guard’s support for scientific research in the Arctic, as well as the unique role the Coast Guard plays in building and maintaining relationships in the maritime domain.

On the whole, the Arctic Circle Assembly presented a vibrant opportunity to learn about matters of interest from people of differing experience and perspective, many of them at the forefront of their disciplines.  It also proved an opportunity to build relationships with counterparts both from Fletcher and around the world.  And, perks being what they are, many of us from the Fletcher contingent capped off the assembly with a drive over the Continental Rift.  On the whole, a productive weekend!

(Kevin notes that the statements in this post are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, or any of their components.)

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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.

 

I now know that I’ll be sharing four reports from the Arctic Circle Assembly.  Today, adding to the post from Ana last week, we’ll hear from two more students, Katrina (who is one of the active duty military officers at Fletcher) and Colin (who is one of the pioneers in Fletcher’s new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program).

Katrina

Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland sounded like a fantastic opportunity but one that required some prodding before I committed.  I wanted to attend and participate in every single thing the Fletcher community offered, and the Arctic Circle was no exception.  However, as a brand spanking new first-year MALD student, I was wary of missing classes since I was still (re)acclimating to the schedule and demands of academic life.  Matt Merighi, the Assistant Director for Maritime Affairs, quickly convinced me that this conference is the type of quintessential enrichment that Fletcher students must experience.  So, I prepared myself for what would become one of the best experiences I have had at Fletcher thus far.

The Arctic Circle is “the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic” with participants including governments, organizations, academic bodies, and others from all over the world.  The Assembly gathers annually during three days in October.  Participants packed the sessions covering the range of issues facing the Arctic.  As a naval officer, I was keen on attending the sessions that dealt with maritime security.  One of the first sessions I attended was “Security and Insecurity in the Arctic and High North: Current Trends and Future Issues,” and I was incredibly impressed with the arguments posited.  I found the geographic and national lenses through which panel members framed the issues concerning the Arctic thought-provoking, and I kept them in mind as I listened to other speakers.  It was a humbling reminder that nations are affected by problems in different ways, and future solutions must account for all parties facing the challenges of maritime security, technology, trade, or any of the other issue in the Arctic.

Because about 2,000 people were in attendance from 50 countries, I was bound to meet fascinating people.  During the opening reception, a gentleman next to me gleefully gave me a Maine lapel pin after I told him I was at Fletcher.  When I asked where he was from, he casually replied: “I’m the governor of Maine.”  I never thought I’d meet the governor of Maine, much less 2,500 miles from home!  I also had the opportunity to engage with the Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Deputy Chief of Operations of the Icelandic Coast Guard.  Listening to them discuss the most pressing problems they see in the Arctic, and the steps they are taking to address, them caused me to reconsider how I look at maritime security issues, not only in the Arctic but around the globe.  I conversed with academics, fellow students, government officials, and organizational representatives, and I walked away from each conversation having learned something new.

My time in Iceland was not all serious, however.  During the precious few hours I was left on my own, I wandered the streets of downtown Reykjavik and visited key sites and museums.  I went to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church, where I took in the beauty of the city from 244 feet in the air.  I visited their Culture House, which featured a thought-provoking exhibition that explored how outsiders and Icelanders look at history and society in Iceland.  Yet, the highlight was visiting the world-famous Blue Lagoon, where I soaked in an outdoor hot spring and watched the sunrise while wearing a silica mud mask plastered to my face.  This was unquestionably a once in a lifetime experience.

One of the most important things I learned during the Assembly is that the Arctic embodies a new frontier of international collaboration.  In an increasingly polarized world, I am encouraged that the Arctic engenders discourse and a collective action among countries that would not typically interact otherwise.  It turns out Matt was right — this was an incredible experience.  I look forward to sharing the spirit of Arctic Circle with the Fletcher family and hopefully convincing them that Arctic Circle Assembly is a must-add to their list of Fletcher memories!

Colin

I have long been fascinated with the Arctic, and my time at Fletcher has only further cemented this interest.  As a student in the brand-new Master of Transatlantic Affairs program, focusing primarily on international security and the EU, the region represents a fascinating case study.  Will new opportunities in shipping and resource extraction lead to tense geopolitical competition, or to peaceful and cooperative development?  Thanks to the generosity of the Maritime Studies program, I was granted a chance to travel to the Arctic Circle Assembly, the preeminent conference for Arctic affairs, to find out.

My interest in the region began as a personal one, but was expanded through various research projects, including an op-ed I published while working at The Stimson Center, a think-tank in Washington, D.C.  As the article was about the possibility of militarization in the region, I kept a close eye out for Arctic conference events that discussed similar issues.  Fortunately, I was able to attend a talk by a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan who laid out the arguments for demilitarization in the region, arguing that, for the most part, countries have compatible interests in the Arctic, and that military investments should be seen as a misallocation of funding.  Instead, she urged Arctic nations to focus on confidence-building measures, particularly by creating a political forum to discuss security and demilitarization.  Our discussion with Admiral Charles Michel about the Coast Guard’s surprisingly diplomatic role in the region was another interesting perspective on Arctic security cooperation.

My interest in the EU was well-represented as well.  In a presentation on EU Arctic policy, I learned how Europe is approaching the region, particularly through the EU Arctic Cluster, a network established to link policy makers with other groups like indigenous peoples, civil society, and business representatives.  I was also fascinated to learn about the EU-Polar Net, the European Union’s consortium of science experts, which coordinates numerous European research projects.  It was impressive to see the degree to which the EU was already cooperating in the region.

True to Fletcher style, I also did my best to take an interdisciplinary approach to the conference, rather than simply focusing on my core academic interests.  Easily my favorite event was the Arctic Innovation Lab, where students from Fletcher, the Harvard Kennedy School and Reykjavik University presented their ideas for concrete improvements to the region, from transshipping ports to indigenous-run tourist businesses to an Arctic investment index.  I was very impressed by my fellow students’ ingenuity.  At another event, a professor from the Arctic University of Norway opened my eyes to the human security element of Arctic affairs by arguing that the common suicide crisis within Nordic countries actually constitutes a security issue in itself.  Another panel discussed environmental hazards in the region, in particular a fascinating presentation about the dangers of a particularly toxic fuel called unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine, which was recently used in a Russian satellite launch despite its dangers to human health and the environment being very well known.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see the variety of delegations from non-Arctic countries, especially Asian countries like China, India and Japan, and attended a number of events where they laid out their interests in the region.  As a student who primarily focuses on transatlantic affairs, it was a tremendous opportunity to be exposed to perspectives from other parts of the world.

The conference was not only fascinating from an academic perspective, however.  It also provided the opportunity to get closer to my fellow Fletcher students, and make some new connections as well.  Most memorably, two other Fletcherites and I were fortunate enough to befriend a student from the University of Reykjavik, who gave us a ride away from the light pollution of the city to see the awe-inspiring northern lights.  It was just one of several unforgettable experiences I had while attending the Arctic Circle Assembly.

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Following their return from the Arctic Circle Assembly last month, the Fletcher Maritime Program encouraged students to share their observations in a blog post, and then asked me whether I would be interested in including the posts in the Admissions Blog.  Of course I would!  I’m not sure how many I’ll receive, but today Ana Nichols Orians, a first-year MALD student, writes of her experience in Iceland.

“South Pole at Top of Earth” by Joaquin Torres García.

When I was in college, Latin American writer and activist Eduardo Galeano’s salient prose guided much of my thinking.  One message stood out: we must question the traditional narratives reinforcing colonial dynamics in global politics.  In his book, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World, Galeano presents Joaquín Torres García’s map of an upside down Latin America.  From this viewpoint, the global south is emphasized by its proximity to the sun and the moon.

Prior to the Arctic Circle Assembly, Joaquin Garcia’s map was the closest I had ever gotten to thinking about the poles.  I remain dedicated to the idea of focusing on Latin America, especially in terms of reaching my professional goals of being a negotiator on topics pertaining to food, climate, and sustainability.  Attending the Arctic Circle Assembly might not seem like the most logical step towards professional realization.  Yet attending offered the possibility of discovering a more dynamic view of the Arctic while simultaneously learning from diverse actors considering global consequences of climate change and negotiating on policies for global cooperation.  And so, I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, to attend the conference with my internal global map reversed, as per Galeano’s guidance.

The Arctic Circle Assembly attracts some of the most important actors across the globe.  Within the first few hours in Iceland, I witnessed plenary discussions with Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories, Peter Seligmann, Chairman of the Board of Conservation International, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and H. E. Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands, and I even introduced myself to and shook hands with H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, chairman of the Arctic Circle and former president of Iceland.  Over three days, religious leaders, scientists, artists, and policy makers led attendees through discussions about their priorities and opened the floor for creative responses.  It was exhilarating and, at times, intimidating.  Luckily, my role as moderator for the Arctic Innovation Lab gave me purpose.

Working with Ryan Uljua, second-year MALD candidate, on his pitch, “An Arctic Investment Index,” afforded me the opportunity to dive deeper into the idea of the Arctic as a new economic frontier.  Ryan presented a new type of investment index designed for the small-scale investor.  The roundtable conversation after his presentation incorporated the voices of students, bankers, and artists, and brought to light the importance of finding balance through corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Vanessa DiDomenico, another first-year MALD student, pitched the idea “Navigating Vessels Through Compliance” at the lab and discussed the importance of determining safe operations with risk mitigation strategies for the emerging sea-lanes in the Arctic.  The lab provided valuable insight into a “young” perspective of how to manage the region in a sustainable and socially equitable way.

Inherent in the discussions at the Assembly was the question: whose interests will be at the table if the ice melts?  The Arctic narrative I was accustomed to proved limited.  Once again, it was a map that made my preconceived notions evident.  Looking at the map of the Arctic Ocean, one can see how the melting ice accentuates the role of the northern coastlines and the potential for additional sea-lanes, fundamentally changing the scale of global power relations.  Not all stakeholders value the Arctic for the same reason, or for that matter, have the same desired outcome for the region.  Depending on whom you ask, the Arctic provides grossly different services: biodiversity, opportunities for economic investment, pristine environments and glaciers, potential shipping routes, untapped energy, political power, and more.  As with the opening of any frontier, many actors are ready to exploit these resources for their own agenda.

A sustainable future may be a larger conversation than a single map can represent, but it is one that the Arctic Circle Assembly has been developing since its first meeting in 2013.  The future of the Arctic is a global issue and those with the closest proximity and with the most money should not be the sole decision makers.  Understanding the nuances of the political power and the diversity of interest regarding climate change will be fundamental to defining a strategic and sustainable approach to the Arctic.

 

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Some of my favorite initiatives each year are the ones that involve students creating learning opportunities for each other.  This year there are two “chat” series underway, one that features a professor talking with students about non-classroom topics (or, as the organizers describe it, “practical, personal insights that they may not directly address in the classroom”), and another that brings students together in our Blakeley Hall dormitory to learn from a fellow student.

The Faculty Chats series (also called “What Every Student Should Know About _____”) kicked off with Professor Sulmaan Khan whose first talk in the series promised to “challenge your assumptions, make the case for thinking like an historian, and possibly make you see whales in a whole new way.”

The second of the chats featured Professor Michael Glennon, who promised to “share some of his accumulated wisdom on work, life, and the law,” focusing on what he has learned thanks to mentorship, and experience that he wishes he’d had at the outset of his career.

The latest chat invited students to hear from Professors Monica Toft, Ibrahim Warde, and Elizabeth Prodromou.  Just this past Wednesday, the three members of the faculty told stories from their careers and reflected on the question, “How did you get here?”  And specifically, they discussed how the study of religion informed and impacted their work as academics and practitioners.

And now for the Blakeley Chats, which were actually developed last year after students realized that their classmates had interesting experiences worthy of sharing in a semi-formal setting.  (Sort of the mirror image of the faculty chats, which create a relaxed atmosphere for faculty and students, the Blakeley Chats give structure to the standard student conversations.)

I haven’t happened to see an announcement of the first chats, but subjects are meant to include jobs, travel, projects, or anything interesting to other students.  Last year, some students created presentations or photo slideshows, while others simply, well, chatted.

 

The Admissions Staff is perennially grateful for the help, support, and good humor of our student staff.  These Admissions Graduate Assistants (GAs) both handle many mundane day-to-day tasks and also are available to serve as resources for visiting applicants.  If you call the office or send us an email, there’s a good chance that you’ll be chatting with one of these fine folks.  From the perspective of the staff, it’s just a treat to see them when they arrive in the office, and they help to keep us connected to the student community.  I like to introduce the GAs so you’ll know that the person at the other end of your phone call or email is a real live Fletcher student, working in the Office of Admissions.  Read about them today, and then you’ll know whom your email is from tomorrow.

Brooklyn:
Hi everyone!  I am a second-year MIB student focusing on Strategic Management and International Consultancy, as well as Global Political Economy.  Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, I moved to Washington, DC to attend American University, where I studied international relations, focusing on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and Spanish language.

After completing my bachelor’s degree in 2012, I started working at Chemonics International as a project management team member.  Six-months into my time there, I moved from the Latin America Regional Business Unit (RBU) to the Asia RBU, where I had the opportunity to learn about the culture and complexities of a region of the world that was new to me.  While working in the Asia region, I was involved in projects spanning from Pakistan to the Pacific Islands that covered topics such as governance, climate change adaptation, combating human-trafficking, and economic growth.  It was my work with the Vietnam Governance for Inclusive Growth project that sparked my interest in the public sector and led me to Fletcher!

During my first year at Fletcher I explored new subjects, from finance to law.  I got involved with many groups on campus including Fletcher Social Investment Group, Fletcher Political Risk group, and Net Impact.  This year, I am co-leader of Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter and a member of the MIINT (MBA Impact Investment & Training) team.  I look forward to hearing from you in the Admissions Office this year!

Cece:
Namaste!  My name is Cecelia Rana, more popularly called Cece by friends, family and colleagues.  I am a first-year international student from Nepal doing the MALD program here at Fletcher.  My undergraduate degree is from Clark University where I majored in international relations with a minor in economics.

Having grown up in a country that suffered through a ten-year long civil war with never-ending political chaos, I am interested in exploring the nature and processes of political conflict, specifically in relation to information and communication channels.  I am a curious, adventure-loving individual with multiple interests that range from world politics, films, music, and nature/culture exploration.  I have a diverse set of professional experiences and have worked for organizations including the United Nations (UNRCPD), AmeriCares, and ChildReach Nepal.  Most recently, I coordinated a collaborative art project called the “True Stories Project,” a partnership between U.S. and Nepali art institutions aimed at bringing out stories of abuse, exploitation, and trafficking through the medium of art.  I am interested in continuing to use the visual medium to tell powerful stories pertinent to international affairs while at Fletcher as well.  My current activities besides my classes allow me to hone my media/filmmaking interests.  I am a part of an upcoming John Oliver-inspired Fletcher TV show and the Fletcher AV, two very exciting student-run project/clubs that have started this year.

I look forward to sharing my Fletcher experience!

Cindy:
Hello everyone!  I am a second-year MALD student, concentrating my studies in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Organizations.  I grew up in Spring Hill, Florida and later received my BA in political science, anthropology and a minor in Russian at the University of Florida (go Gators!).  I was very fortunate to work with a professor in the political science department on a thesis related to ethnic violence against minorities in Russia.  This experience sparked my interest in pursuing a degree related to international affairs.

When I graduated, I was accepted into Teach For America as a fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher in Halifax, North Carolina.  As a teacher I honed my leadership skills, shared my passion for reading, writing, and history with my students, and fostered lifelong relationships with my colleagues.  Through learning about Teach For America’s mission, I became devoted to issues of minority rights and inequality, bridging differences between diverse communities, and pursuing a career of public service.

At Fletcher, I am focusing my research on improving diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia through good policy, the causes and consequences of polarization between diverse societies, and the role that education plays in shaping the beliefs and perceptions of conflicting societies.  This past summer I completed an internship through the Tufts Tisch Summer Fellows program at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., where I conducted research on U.S./Russia/NATO relations and the Baltic states.

This year I have the pleasure of co-leading two clubs: the Ambassachords a capella group and the Eurasia Club.  I also engage with the wider community by teaching an adult learning class with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, helping to organize Fletcher’s annual Building Bridges Conference and Fletcher recitals, and volunteering for FletcherCares.  In my spare time I love to cook, read, go for walks with my dog Obi, and spend time with my wonderful husband Brian.  I am very excited to be working with the Admissions team, and I hope that I can bring the spirit I have for this school to both current and prospective students!

John:
Hello everyone!  I am a first-year MALD student concentrating on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, as well as Human Security.  Originally from San Antonio, Texas, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to study at Vanderbilt University where I received a BA in public policy studies and a minor in French.  As a student, I was able to study abroad in southern France for a semester which first piqued my interest in exploring international affairs.  While writing my senior capstone, I had the opportunity to work with local refugee communities in examining how they resolved intra- and inter-community conflict.

After graduating in 2014, I applied to volunteer with the Peace Corps.  For the past two years, I have been serving as an English teacher at a university in southwest China.  I really enjoyed interacting with my students and colleagues, not only in improving their English, but in sharing differing worldviews, trying new foods, and cultivating meaningful relationships.  In addition to teaching spoken English, I helped my department run speech contests, host international studies conferences, and even win a few relay races.  I also worked with my counterparts to introduce a creative writing competition and other cultural events that gave the members in my community the opportunity to engage with each other in an informal learning environment!  It was both my experience in China and my time volunteering with resettled refugee communities that brought me here to Fletcher.  In my free time, I love to travel, practice yoga, and bullet journal.  I look forward to connecting with you and answering any of your questions about the admissions process and life at Fletcher!

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As promised, today’s post comes from second-year MIB student, Adi, who provides the final summer update from our continuing Student Stories bloggers.  Adi’s internship gave him a chance to test a new field, as he continues the career shift process he started in his first Fletcher semester.

At one point during my first year at Fletcher, someone told me that, in the end, everything was going to be o.k.  Everyone will do something during the summer break, be it an internship, research, writing, or catching up with old friends and family for two or three months.  As much as I wanted to believe that, I couldn’t help but get a little nervous when it was a couple of weeks after the last final of the spring semester, summer had officially started, and there was still no official offer letter for a summer internship.  I even flew back home to Indonesia, not knowing whether I was going to intern at all during the next few months, or just plain relax (or maybe start writing my capstone).

Adi (in the red shirt) and the CCB team at Citi Indonesia

Then the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived.  I was offered a spot in the Global Consumer Summer Associate batch at Citigroup’s Jakarta office.  While extremely relieved, I also came to realize that now the hard work would start.  This would be my first exposure to working at a global corporation, first time at a financial institution, in an industry far away from my previous professional background.  I was put on the Commercial Lending team.  My role was to support the business analysis and marketing staff in the division.  My main deliverable was an official guide for new employees of Citi Commercial Bank (CCB).  This meant that I had to learn how CCB operates, understand the complete business process down to the individual roles of each person on the team, and package all this information into a guidebook that would be easily digestible to a newcomer.

Throughout my time at Citi, there were many new learnings for me.  What was very noticeable from the onset was the fast pace of the work.  Prior to Fletcher, my experience was in the non-profit and public sectors.  Life at a private corporation like Citi was definitely different, in that on any day you could suddenly receive a million (figuratively) new tasks to be completed within the next couple of days (if not by the end of that business day).  Second, people were not lying when they said that working at a bank means you have to get good at Excel fast.  I learned more spreadsheet shortcuts and functions in the first week at Citi than I did in one year at Fletcher (or even my three years of work prior to grad school, for that matter).  Finally, I realized how vast the finance world is.  The Commercial Lending work that I had been doing during the summer was just a minuscule percentage of the whole operation that Citi does as an organization.  I really enjoyed learning about other functions within the bank, including corporate development, investment banking, and risk management.

In the end, it was a fruitful summer.  The skills and knowledge I learned from all three of Professor Jacque’s classes that I took in my first year, Professor Schena’s investment class, and Professor Trachtman’s fiscal and financial law class all came in very handy at different points of my internship.  To anyone pivoting to finance, or simply needing a refresher on the topic, I found the Wall Street Prep workshop both in the fall and spring semesters to be very useful during my time at Citi, and I highly recommend it.  Now that I have entered my second year at Fletcher, I have more context on how things click in the financial services industry.  I still am very much interested in exploring career opportunities in other parts of the industry, specifically asset management.  Hopefully, I will be able to build on my experience this past summer, and successfully navigate this exciting industry.

Family picture in Bukittinggi, Indonesia

 

 

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I’ve recently published posts by Student Stories writers Pulkit and Mariya.  Coming up next week is a summer update from Adi.  For those readers who are new to the blog, I should take a step back and point you toward the stories of all our past writers.  Each of these folks volunteered to write several posts during their two years at Fletcher.  I try to leave it to the student writers to choose their topics so that they reflect their own experience, but a little structure has developed over time, this year even including deadlines.

To make it easy to access each writer’s posts, here’s your Blogger Table of Contents.

This year’s returning writers are:

Adi, second-year MIB student

Mariya, second-year MALD student

Pulkit, second-year MALD student

Previous year’s writers were:

Adnan: F17, MALD

McKenzie, F17, MIB

Tatsuo: F17, MALD

Aditi: F16, MALD

Alex: F16, MIB

Ali: F16, MIB, who originally applied through Fletcher’s Map Your Future pathway to admission

Diane, F15, MALD

Liam, F15, MALD

Mark, F15, MIB

Mirza, F14, MALD

Roxanne, F14, MALD, who has also written occasionally as a PhD student

Scott, F14, MIB

Maliheh, F13, MALD

Plus, when I first launched Student Stories, I also included a first-year graduate, Manjula, F12, whose experience inspired me to ask students to write about their time at Fletcher, and which then led to the posts from First-Year Alumni.  I hope you’ll enjoy scrolling through and reading about all the writers’ Fletcher stories.

I’ll be introducing four (!) new bloggers in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!

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