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The Hall of Flags is Fletcher’s town square, its crossroads, its living room — everyone walks through at some point during the day. A highlight of my year comes when I grab my computer and my ace co-pilot, Kristen, and head out to the HoF to talk with whomever we see. Students, staff, faculty — we don’t hesitate to keep them any of them from getting their work done, or even from crossing the Hall of Flags on the way to the door. We started our HoF time by scanning the scene to choose our first conversational target. Our topic for the day: Tell us something noteworthy about your year at Fletcher.
There’s often a student staffing a table at which tickets to an event are sold. A perfect place to start.
Carmyn, second year student pursuing dual degree with the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna (selling tickets for Americana Night):
One of the most noteworthy things for me this year were the guest and visiting speakers that came to Fletcher. For example, I kicked off my year by attending a luncheon lecture as a part of the International Security Studies lecture series, and heard from General Petr Pavel, the Chairman of the Military Committee for NATO. In addition, the Fletcher Security Review has also hosted some really amazing and highly experienced professionals as guest speakers. I feel very invested and involved in the fields that I am studying. There are so many engaging things here at Fletcher, so it’s really great to have those opportunities on the academic side, as well as many possibilities to attend social events led and organized by students. Aside from that, just getting to know people at Fletcher has been great. The student body here is phenomenal.
Helen, Associate Director of the Office of Career Services:
We have ten new Blakeley Fellows! Jerry Blakeley very generously has given $50,000 for the summer of 2016 to support ten first-year students doing internships in developing countries, focused on microfinance, private sector development, public/private partnerships, NGO business development, and project financing.
Although there are other sources of funding for summer internships, this amount can significantly defray expenses for these unpaid internships. Countries that students will be working in include Uganda, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Malawi, Indonesia, and India. This is the ninth summer that the Blakeleys will be supporting students doing these types of internships.
Halley, Staff Assistant for the Office of the Registrar (just completing her first year at Fletcher):
It’s been really amazing meeting and interacting with so many students from all over the world and so many cultures and backgrounds, getting to know them throughout the year, and seeing them succeed academically and thrive at Fletcher.
Peter, second-year MIB:
I’m involved in the Fletcher Social Investment Group — one of the leadership members — and we had the opportunity to present at the CEME Fellows meeting and to get their feedback, and to share with the external Fletcher community what we’re up to.
Preetish, second-year MALD:
My entrepreneurship class in Energy, Entrepreneurship and Finance, which is what we’re currently working on. The way energy and finance comes together in class is interesting. I’m looking for a career in this field.
Peter: The professor (Barbara Kates-Garnick) is also the former Commissioner of Energy in Massachusetts, so it’s really interesting.
Harper, first-year MALD:
I like the flexibility that the MALD program provides so that you can take a class like Energy, Entrepreneurship and a class like Role of Force in the same semester.
Why interrupt only one study group? We moved on to what we thought was another. Turned out it was three people simply chatting together. Nate and Cristina were both volunteer interviewers for Admissions in the fall!
Nate, second-year MALD:
It was definitely the media communications panel from the DC Career Trip, because it was very encouraging to interact with so many alums who work in a space that I’m actively pursuing a career in. I appreciated that they did such a great job relating their Fletcher experience to their career paths and also how enthusiastic they were about making time in their day to encourage aspiring students to follow their career path. At the panel, there were representatives from The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Inter-American Development Bank, FCW, and the Glover Park Group.
Marc, mid-career MA student:
One of the more noteworthy events?…I hate to follow and say the DC Career Trip, but in particular, I attended a small session on conflict and violent extremism at the State Department with a number of officials, and it was a good opportunity to talk about the profession, and it dovetailed with classes here. It reminded me why I came here. I previously worked for Chemonics, but I want to get into CVE, and it’s great to know that there are a lot of people from Fletcher doing cutting edge work in that field.
Also, I’ve taken classes in urban planning and GIS – it was a great opportunity to tie in those topics that I may not have been able to study elsewhere.
Cristina, first-year MALD:
International Negotiations with Professor Babbitt. She’s a very dynamic professor and her command of the subject matter is impressive. She really knows how to teach, too!
I successfully defended my thesis in December 2015. Since then, I’ve continued my work with folks in the U.S. government — specifically advising on the policy stance toward the current crisis in Burundi.
Liz’s dissertation title: “Securing the Space for Political Transition: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations in Burundi.”
With that, we decided it was time to head back to our day-to-day work. We’ll be back, Hall of Flags! Until then…
Tagged with: Hall of Flags
Following up on my post about the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, this happy news greeted me from my inbox last Friday. The email came from Professor Weitz, Fletcher’s Entrepreneur Coach (and an alumnus).
Dear Fletcher community,
As Entrepreneur Coach, I am pleased to report that Fletcher startups did quite well in yesterday’s Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition.
A small, but loud, contingent of Fletcher students, faculty, and staff attended to cheer on our four Fletcher startup finalists:
The Blue Water Metrics team (Matt Merighi, F16, Caroline Troein, F13, Jack Whitacre, F16, and Sea Sovereign Thomas, F02) placed second in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, which translates into $7,000 cash in startup capital + $5,000 in free legal fees + free office space in downtown Boston.
The Uliza team (Grant Bridgman, F16, Abhishek Maity, F16, and undergraduate student Janet Jepkogei, A17) placed third in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, which translates into $3,000 cash in startup capital + $5,000 in free legal fees + free office space in downtown Boston.
Although they didn’t win any prize money, the PowerShare International team (Jamie Powers, F16, Tarun Gopalakrishnan, F16, Nathan Justice, A17, and Jack Whitacre, F16) and the Rashmi team (Rajiv Nair, F16, Sreedhar Nemmani, F16, and Alisha Guffey, F16) successfully competed with over 65 other Tufts startups to place as finalists in the Tufts $100K, which is a significant accomplishment.
Overall Fletcher startups represented 4 out of 6 finalists in the Tufts $100K Social Impact Track, showcasing teamwork of 14 Fletcher students and alumni.
Please join me in congratulating them today!
All my best,
Tagged with: Business competitions
I’m a member of a city commission and we recently worked on our annual report for 2015. Click! — a light bulb lit up over my head. Why not have Fletcher’s student organizations write brief annual reports for the blog? I reached out to several groups and am happy to share the summaries of their activities for the 2015-16 academic year.
Fletcher Cares is a public service organization that provides opportunities for volunteerism to build a stronger, more efficient, and more sustainable community network within Fletcher. Our goal is to build collaboration wherever possible with other Fletcher and Tufts organizations and to promote public service careers. This year Fletcher Cares participated in a winter coat drive and ran a community event “Fit for Finals” to promote health and well-being during finals. This spring, Fletcher Cares will once again be volunteering for the Boston Marathon, hosting our annual charity dinner and auction, working with a U.S. prison reform organization, and will close out the year with a spring “Fit for Finals” event.
Fletcher Finance Club
The Fletcher Finance Club’s mission is to be a platform of learning in the areas of finance and related public policy by offering extracurricular skills- and knowledge-building initiatives; and to provide a complementary channel through which members may successfully pursue a professional career in the broad financial services and banking industry.
A few events we have hosted were seminars to help students with the process of interviewing with financial firms. This past fall we hosted an alumnus guest speaker who worked at Citibank’s infrastructure and project finance team, and members had an intimate off-the-record session on how to secure jobs on Wall Street or in energy finance. Also related to energy finance, we hosted guest speakers from Global Focus Capital LLC and Spinnaker Oil and they laid out fundamental analysis of the current state of energy prices and what companies are doing to hedge.
In addition to guest speakers, Fletcher Finance hosts sessions about internship and job opportunities with firms in global finance. In one such job panel with Chatham Financial, an alumna explained the need for advanced hedging instruments to operate globally.
We also work closely with the greater Tufts community. This spring, along with the Tisch College, we co-hosted a ceremony to honor Robert Manning, current CEO of MFS Investment Management, with the Tisch College Corporate Citizen Fellow Award. Following this event, the Fletcher Finance team toured MFS global headquarters in downtown Boston and had sit-downs with the head of Global Equity, Fixed Income, and Research for the leading investment manager.
Fletcher Finance also provides additional skills building opportunities for our club members through our technical seminars. We’ve partnered with Tufts Finance Network to bring more finance-related events to Fletcher with a coveted financial modeling program, Wall Street Prep.
Our group members come from diverse backgrounds and we welcome those who may not have any financial background but want to learn more. Current club co-president Michael Duh spent eight years as an auditor at a Big Four public accounting firm and will be heading to work for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after graduation in their financial institution supervision group. Co-president Athul Ravunniarath has made a name for himself in the impact investing space, having now consulted and worked for MasterCard, I-DEV, and Acumen Fund — leading investors in fin-tech and renewable energy — to which Athul brought to the table modeling, due diligence, and deal scoping skills, which he has honed with the help of the Fletcher education and Finance Club. What Fletcher Finance allows members to do is elevate their understanding of finance not only for analysis, research, and number crunching, but also to gain the global contextual understanding that is needed to asses any financial deal.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact our elist. The Fletcher Finance Club is honored to share more about our work and encourages future Fletcher students to carry the torch in the years to come.
Fletcher LGBTQA aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in the fields of foreign policy and international relations, as well as to create a safe and inclusive community for lesbian, gay, transgender, and/or queer students and their allies.
This academic year, Fletcher LGBTQA has sponsored two lecture events on LGBTQ issues relevant to foreign policy and international relations. In October, Professor Timothy McCarthy of Harvard University spoke about the Lavender Scare, the U.S. government’s campaign during the 1950s to persecute LGBTQ federal employees. He described how 5,000 LGBTQ federal employees were fired, under the guise of maintaining national security, and how the events of the Lavender Scare remain relevant today because of the widespread absence of state and federal laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In November, Maria Beatriz Bonna Nogueira, fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, spoke about the drive to include LGBTQ issues in international conversations on human rights. As former Head of International Affairs at Brazil’s Ministry for Human Rights, she outlined Brazil’s successful efforts to advocate for LGBTQ rights in the context of international organizations.
Just this week, Fletcher LGBTQA, in partnership with Fletcher Christian Fellowship and the Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Group, offered a panel event on Global Faiths and Transnational LGBTQ Activism. At the event, presenters from diverse traditions shared their experiences on how faith can be used as a catalyst for social justice to build transnational community and advocacy. Speakers included Reverend Irene Monroe, a public theologian, and Kaamila Mohamed, the founder of Queer Muslims of Boston. Tufts University Chaplain Reverend Greg McGonigle moderated.
As issues related to gender and sexuality are gaining more and more attention in foreign policy and international relations, Fletcher LGTQA, at the oldest graduate school of international affairs in the U.S., hopes to be a leader in the conversation.
Asia Club provides a space for students interested in all aspects of the continent to share experiences and knowledge with one another, and to develop a diverse network of students and professionals with similar interests. The club also works to highlight Asian culture in day-to-day student life through exhibitions and events, often in collaboration with other student clubs that also focus on the region. Over the past year, Asia Club has organized Asia Night, one of Fletcher’s five “culture nights,” which showcased 12 cultural performances from across Asia, including martial arts, Chinese rock opera, Thai dancing, and music from various countries. Before the end of the semester, Asia Club plans to host talks by government officials. Along with the South Asia Club, Asia Club plans to bring Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Consul General of India, New York, to speak. Asia Club has also been working to host Mr. Scott Lai, Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston, for an intimate discussion.
Fletcher’s Energy and Environment Club or “FLEEC” serves several functions for the Fletcher community. First and foremost, it is Fletcher’s internal network for all things related to the environment and energy. It is your most accessible resource for finding students with experience or interest in those fields. The club facilitates lectures, field trips, networking events, and panels for students interested in the International Environment and Resource Policy Field of Study.
Highlights from FLEEC this year include “The Great Debate” with Professors Bill Moomaw and Bruce Everett. Two of Fletcher’s most well-respected professors debated the possible outcomes of the climate talks in Paris and the economics of climate change moving forward.
FLEEC leadership also worked with Harvard Kennedy School in November to organize a mixer for students interested in energy. Students from both schools gathered at a bar in Harvard Square for a fantastic networking opportunity.
FLEEC successfully in organized a field trip to a local recycling plant. FLEEC aims for a few technical field trips like this per year. We believe a solid understanding of the technology helps inform the business plans and policy ideas we create here at Fletcher.
The close of the year will bring still more events, including an annual alumni networking event the weekend of graduation. FLEEC leadership encourages input from current and incoming students on how best to tailor events to their interests. We are always grateful for the suggestions.
Today and tomorrow, four teams from Fletcher will be showcasing their ventures at the finals of the Tufts 100K New Ventures Competition. The full program of activities includes the competition itself, the Tufts Entrepreneurship Showcase, a keynote address from John Sculley, and the awards ceremony.
In addition to the big prize, there is a $1000 audience award, so the Fletcher teams are encouraging the community to come out and vote for them. It’s a public event and tickets are available.
The four Fletcher teams are:
PowerShare, which also competed last year.
And you can (as usual) follow the competition on Twitter. Good luck to our entrepreneurial students!
Tagged with: Business competitions
Four years ago I reached out to a few students and asked them to write for a new Student Stories feature on the blog. I ask these volunteers to write four posts each year, mostly on topics of their choosing. Not all quite meet the mark, but I understand that it can be hard to take time to write a post while also writing for so many other classroom-related purposes. I try not to assign subjects for their posts. Rather, they write about topics of importance or interest to them. Because the spring always brings new readers, I want to reintroduce each of the students who have contributed their stories.
This year’s writers are:
Adnan: first-year MALD student from Pakistan
McKenzie: first-year MIB student
Tatsuo: first-year MALD student from Japan
Aditi: second-year MALD student from India
Alex: second-year MIB student
Ali: second-year MIB student, who originally applied through Fletcher’s Map Your Future pathway to admission
And, on a time-available basis, Roxanne, F14, will write about her experiences with the PhD program, having previously written about her two years in the MALD program.
Previous year’s writers were:
Maliheh, F13, MALD
Mirza, F14, MALD
Scott, F14, MIB
Diane, F15, MALD
Liam, F15, MALD
Mark, F15, MIB
And in the first year of this fledgling effort, I also included a first-year graduate, Manjula, who gave me the idea to create Student Stories, which then led to the posts from First-Year Alumni. I hope you’ll enjoy scrolling through and reading about their Fletcher experiences.
Tagged with: Student Stories
You may have seen on Fletcher’s Facebook page or Twitter feed that a group of students has traveled to Cuba during this week’s spring break. When the trip was planned, the students wouldn’t have known that their adventure would coincide with President Obama’s. The trip was already a special opportunity, but it turned out to be a historic one. I’ll let a Miami TV news crew tell the story.
Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt. But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.” As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life. (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility
I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives. As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.
Semester One (5 credits)
- Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
- Corporate Social Responsibility in the Age of Globalization
- Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
- Corporate Management of Environmental Issues
- Financial Statement Management
- Managerial Economics
Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career. Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust. I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself! The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall. I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field. These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.
Semester Two (5 Credits)
- Data Analysis & Statistical Methods for Business
- International Business Strategy & Operations
- Political Economy & Business of the EU
- Marketing Management
- Lean Six Sigma
The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats. My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there. Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute. International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year. Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course. Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit. Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY
I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands. Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies. You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details. What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended. People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships. Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself! It all works out in the end.
Semester Three (4 Credits)
- Mergers and Acquisitions: An International Perspective
- Legal and Institutional Aspects of International Trade
- Processes of International Negotiation
- International Business Transactions
Ah, the last year of graduate school. It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job. I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston. You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here. I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above. I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once. Spread them out! By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.
Semester Four (4 Credits)
- Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
- Securities Regulation: An International Perspective
- Project Management and Software Methodologies
- Independent Study – Capstone
- Cross-Sector Partnership
- Understanding and Influencing Operations as an Investor, Harvard Business School (through cross registration)
In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report. My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself! Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space. My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal. It’s all coming to an end so fast. I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!
This is the kind of news I enjoy. First, because it’s happy news, and second because it was a current PhD candidate who made sure that we paused to celebrate some of our own. In an email to the community, Rizwan informed us that, of the 455 newly selected finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program for 2016, eleven are Fletcher students or alumni. The classes of 2016, 2015, and 2014 are represented. (Rizwan actually went to the trouble of including not only the new PMF finalists’ names, but also their graduation years.)
I have heard lots of congratulations being shared with the finalists and we all wish them luck in lining up their jobs!
The final update on the fall 2015 semester comes from Tatsuo, who, like Ali and Aditi, took a heavy course load last semester. In fact, I would describe it as an extremely challenging semester for anyone, and particularly for a non-native English speaker just starting his Fletcher studies.
In my first semester at Fletcher, I took four courses: Law and Development; Development Economics: Policy Analysis; Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance; and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies. Every course was interesting, but especially Law and Development, which was one of the reasons that I chose the School. Thus, I want to introduce the course in this post.
Law and Development dealt with development theory and implementation of development policies from the legal perspective. It was an interdisciplinary fusion of international development and legal studies. The combination of two fields, law and international relations, is characteristic of one of the unique qualities of The Fletcher School of “Law and Diplomacy.” In the course, some students did not have legal expertise or practical experience; therefore, the legal materials that we reviewed in the class were not too difficult or specialized. But I hardly felt bored in the class, although I have five years’ experience as a legal officer, managing legislation and implementing laws and orders.
I found the class engaging for a few reasons. First, I was a beginner in international development studies. Thinking about how we could manage issues of international development through legal schemes and techniques was very exciting and helpful for my future career when I will be involved in regional development as a public legal officer.
Second, and more importantly, the course gave us opportunities to think about fundamental questions of law. Developing countries and regions tend not to have adequate legal schemes, bureaucracies, or precedents. Thus, they cannot rely on routine procedures or ways of thinking, and they face fundamental questions that we, developed countries’ officers, likely ignore. What is law? What is a court? What is justice? What is development? Some people think that these questions are not practical, but I certainly do not agree with them. In interdisciplinary or emergency cases, including one I have experienced personally, we have to face such questions. Just after the Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, we wanted to skip or abolish many legal procedures for rapid rescue and recovery. However, even in this emergency situation, in order to evade these established legal schemes, we needed to identify truly necessary legal procedures. I remember that we discussed “What is the government?” and “To what extent could we pursue coercive actions without any democratic or legal procedures?” in those chaotic days.
The professor of the Law and Development course is Jeswald Salacuse. He has a great reputation both in practical fields (the former president of international arbitration tribunals of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) and academia (he is also a former dean of The Fletcher School and the founding President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs). In previous work as a legal assistant, he actually pursued law and development issues in developing countries. As a result, his lectures incorporated not only theoretical and text-based knowledge but also vivid recollections of experiences in the field. Although he has had such a prestigious career, he was very friendly and approachable for his students. His class was one of the largest lecture classes at Fletcher, but even with about 30 to 40 students in the class, I did not feel any difficulty asking questions. Professor Salacuse also seemed to like interactive lectures. Additionally even outside the class, the professor kindly helped me with class assignments and papers.
The course dealt with vast areas of law and development. Reading assignments were huge, especially for non-native English speakers like me, so I organized a reading group with other five students. We read and summarized each assigned reading and discussed them each weekend. That was very helpful for understanding background material for the course, and the discussions with students who have diverse backgrounds were also really interesting.
One thing about the course that I regret was my decision to write a paper. We were offered the choice of taking a final exam or writing a research paper. I chose to write the paper. During the first half of the semester, I was struggling to manage the course’s assignments, and I wasn’t able to start writing until after mid-term exams. That meant that writing my draft of the paper overlapped with presentations for final presentations, exams, and papers for my other courses. If my schedule management had worked better, I could have done more to improve the final version. Although I did not receive the grade I had hoped for on the report, it was the only thing I regret about the course.
The average Fletcher student is not here to goof off. On the contrary, most students are both challenged by their coursework and also inclined to inch right up against the boundaries of the maximum they can handle at any given time. Last Thursday, Ali shared details of her fall 2015 semester, which pushed her academically and forced her to employ advanced time management skills. I have two more fall wrap-ups to share, from Aditi and Tatsuo, and they both describe tough semesters. Today, let’s read about Aditi’s experience in her second year in the MALD program, and the reality of how challenging a semester can be.
As a second year student at Fletcher, a lot of things are easier this year — for example, knowing where to find a microwave when Mugar Café is closed, or how early to get to Social Hour for food, or how to petition anything you don’t really want to do. But between worrying about careers, life after May, campus jobs, classes, and a Capstone Project, second year is still very challenging. One of the things my friends and I have struggled with this year is dealing with these stresses without letting them get the better of us.
It’s really easy to lose perspective at Fletcher. We’re so engrossed in campus life that it’s hard to focus on making sure we’re not over-extending ourselves, especially because we want to challenge ourselves and get involved as much as possible. It’s also hard to find the time to stay engaged with life outside Fletcher — the friends, family, and other communities that we built long before arriving here.
Last semester, I decided to push myself academically and take classes that I personally found very difficult. A lot of my friends made similar decisions. While the classes were very rewarding and I learned a lot, by the middle of the semester I was burned out and struggling to keep on top of everything. I just couldn’t juggle classes, work, the unavoidable necessities of regular life (you know, laundry, groceries, cleaning…), and friends and family. At one point, I was concerned that instead of really understanding and learning in my classes, I was just rushing through the motions of finishing one assignment after the next. Everything came to a head when I had a series of personal commitments, and I found myself unable to keep up with anything, academic or personal. Several of my second-year friends were in the same situation, and we all realized that rather than making the most of our Fletcher experience, we were selling ourselves short by not investing the time necessary to truly enjoy it.
In retrospect, I think that much of my stress and anxiety could have been avoided had I been more realistic about my plans for the semester. Yes, I wanted a challenge — but I wasn’t honest with myself about what I need to stay sane and happy, such as finding time to cook, spend time with my friends, stay connected to my family and relationships outside Fletcher, and get enough movement and exercise. Many of us also delayed taking advantage of some of the great resources available to us here, such as Tufts Mental Health Services and our Fletcher community of friends.
Fletcher is a fantastic experience, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the most of graduate school and cram in as much as possible. In the middle of all that we have going on here, it’s essential to remember to take care of ourselves and keep this experience in perspective! I overextended myself last semester, but I don’t regret pouring all my energy into it. As I start a new semester, I will learn from the experience, and plan my time in a way that fosters both my learning and my overall happiness, a suggestion I would give to anyone planning to come to Fletcher.
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