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When I think of Fletcher without all of our graduating students, it fills me with panic. What will the School be like without them? What will the Admissions Office do without Juanita and Ayako? Who will be my Information Session partner when Hanneke is gone? And how can Daniel, who stayed connected to the Office even when he took a job elsewhere, move on? And Mirza and Roxanne and Scott! And interviewers, such as Kevin and Stéphane, Trisha and Eirik, who brightened our days when they arrived for an interview! There are so many people who, for the past two years, have participated in the daily or weekly rhythms of our work lives, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them.
And yet, imagine we must. They’re on their way to something wonderful, carrying Fletcher’s mark wherever they go. We’ll miss them! But the whole idea behind admitting them to Fletcher in the first place is that they’ll soon leave. We’ll just need to adjust to their absence.
Adjusting is made easier by the fact that Fletcher students make their mark on the School and its staff, too. They create new clubs or activities, set a new high standard for constituency service on the Student Council (Nihal!), or broaden the perspective of the Admissions Committee. Once, not so long ago, there were no Los Fletcheros and there was no community ski trip. Now incoming students contact Admissions for the dates of the ski trip (about which we have no advance knowledge, I should add). The creators of those activities made their mark on the community, and they remain part of Fletcher as a result.
The reality is that we staff members don’t see most students daily, but it’s a day’s highlight to run into someone and get a quick update. And whether we see certain students or not, we know they’re out there. We see the conference agendas that include their names; we read their emails to the community. And then, when we feel we’re still only getting to know them, off they go into the world.
This year’s graduating class includes some of my favorite ever students. Every year’s graduating class includes some of my favorite ever students. Interacting with these wonderful people, and contributing in some very small way to the launch of their new careers, is the most satisfying aspect of my work. As a result, Commencement is truly a bittersweet event. It’s best to focus on the sweetness, made easier by the knowledge that the first-year students will now be the second-year students, and new first-years are on their way.
So, to all of this year’s MALD, MIB, MA, LLM, and PhD graduates: Congratulations! Thank you for everything you have done for Fletcher, inside or outside of the classroom! We’ll miss you — please stay in touch! We want to hear about all you do!
With exams in their rear-view mirrors, our student bloggers (even those about to graduate) are finding a little time to write. Today, Roxanne thinks back two years to the summer before she enrolled at Fletcher.
I am typing this blog post in the midst of celebrations and errands. In yards and fields around campus, faculty, staff, and classmates alike are celebrating our impending graduation and the memories we have made in our time at Fletcher. In the meantime, books find their way back to the library, a cap and gown are awaiting my pick-up at the campus bookstore, and stacks of paperwork require review. As I am almost across the finish line of my time as a Fletcher graduate student, I wanted to look back and share some advice with incoming students.
Rest and reflect: Spend the summer before Fletcher relaxing and asking yourself questions about how you wish to spend your graduate school years. You do not need to reach precise answers — in fact, these answers will change when you arrive on campus, and multiple times after that, too. Rather, I encourage asking yourself what you seek to accomplish at Fletcher. Are you trying to build particular technical skills? If so, what are these skills and to what end are you hoping to hone them? Are you hoping to develop a close relationship with particular professors who could be your mentors? Are you interested in conducting original research? Do you hope to write publishable work? Again — you do not need the answers immediately, but asking these questions early (and often) will ensure that you approach your time at Fletcher with a consciousness that helps shape your path here. And rest. Rest rest rest rest rest. You will need it.
Read for pleasure: I have loved most everything I have read at Fletcher, but I have also missed selecting my own leisure reading and having the time to do it. Make a pleasure reading list for the summer before starting at Fletcher and carve out the time to dive into it. Keep adding to the list while at Fletcher, as your professors and classmates will have great recommendations. You will soon graduate and “read for fun” will be at the top of your wish list again!
Browse with an open mind: I have received a few emails from prospective students asking questions like, “Should I take this class or that in my third semester?” While planning ahead is always a good idea, it may be more useful to browse without trying to make concrete plans for all four semesters here. By that, I mean that you should go through the Fletcher website and learn about the different offerings on campus. What classes are available? How do students spend their time? What are the research centers and what do they do? Which faculty bios resonate most with your interests and why? What are the various publications? Knowing about your options will broaden your view of Fletcher, and may be more useful than trying to create a plan before even arriving. Soliciting second-year students’ advice once you arrive is a great way to vet prospective classes, and everyone is accessible and eager to answer your questions!
Spend time with friends and family: Fletcher can be all-consuming in the best of ways, particularly in the first few weeks here. As such, it may be good to use the time before Fletcher to reconnect with your friends and family, discuss your graduate school plans, and also reflect on the experience you are wrapping up. How do you feel about leaving your current job or endeavor? What have been the highlights of the past couple of years? Transitions can be a whirlwind, and making time to process this one, especially with your loved ones, will allow you to invest in your new community with a clearer head and more energy.
Take care of outstanding responsibilities: Similarly, if at all possible, leave some time between your arrival in the Boston area and the start of Orientation. This will allow you to settle into your new place, get your bearings in the neighborhood, and develop a bit of a routine. That is also a good time to buy anything you may need for the semester (check out the Tufts-specific discounts that are part of the summer mailings you will receive), and to take care of errands before the studying kicks in. Doctors’ appointments, finishing up your previous job, external scholarship applications — all of these are easier to take care of before school begins!
Brush up on skills — but do not stress: Some of you will need to brush up on quantitative skills or your knowledge of economics or a language. If you have the energy and interest, it is not a bad idea to do that over the summer, particularly if you wish to sit for one of the qualifying exams in the fall. Think of which gaps you may wish or need to fill and be creative about how to do so before you arrive. However, do not let this ruin your summer or be a cause of stress — there are quite a few opportunities to take these tests. It’s just easiest to take them early — particularly with languages, if you have been keeping up with language practice — which is why Fletcher advises you to take the tests as soon as possible after you arrive.
Cast the “shoulds” aside: There are infinite ways to prepare for a new experience and lots of lists you could browse that would tell you a myriad of things you should do before graduate school. Ultimately, though, you know what you need more than anyone — and there are aspects of the Fletcher experience that will catch you by surprise or for which you couldn’t prepare even if you wanted to. This is part of the learning and the fulfillment here, so spend the summer in all the ways that resonate with you, take the advice that is useful for you, cast aside the rest, and arrive at Fletcher with an open mind for learning and an open heart for the new community of which you will soon be a part!
We’re down to the last few posts from Roxanne, Mirza, and Scott, our graduating bloggers. For this post, I asked Mirza to create what I like to call a curriculum résumé (a phrase I made up last year), in which he would describe his path through Fletcher and reflect on how everything weaves together. Like most Fletcher students, he’s honest about his non-linear path, as we can see by comparing his thoughts just before graduation to those in his first semester or at the start of his second semester.
Mirza Ramic (MALD, 2014)
Business Associate positions at various startups
Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
Communications and information policy and regulation, and the question of global governance
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Hoping to help international organizations, non-profits, and private sector firms (or anyone, really) formulate effective and creative digital communications and online branding strategies
- Processes of International Negotiation
- International Communication
- Internal Conflicts and War
My Fletcher academic path might be a bit more on the “strange” side, but considering the rich diversity of Fletcher student backgrounds and interests, perhaps it’s not so left field. I came to Fletcher pretty determined to be a “Business MALD,” with business and economics courses lined up in my carefully planned academic spreadsheet. After a couple of days at Fletcher, I changed my strategy and instead decided to try a little bit of everything: conflict resolution, security studies, statistics/economics, and communications. I also wanted to get some of the breadth requirements out of the way early, and two courses (Negotiation and Econometrics) did precisely that. I placed out of the economics exam offered at the beginning of the semester, so I was able to take Econometrics and skip the introductory-level economics course.
- Analytic Frameworks for International Public Policy Decisions
- Entrepreneurial Marketing: Building a Winning Business Plan
- Political Economy After the Crisis (Harvard Law School)
- Values, Interests, and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy (Harvard Kennedy School)
At the start of the spring semester, I was confused. I had no idea which direction I wanted to go in, and was considering returning to my original plan of a business-oriented MALD degree. I knew I definitely wanted to venture outside of Fletcher, so I took two courses at Harvard. One was excellent, another not so excellent, but both were valuable in different regards. I also took a business course at Fletcher, and enrolled in Analytic Frameworks since my thesis advisor, Professor Carolyn Gideon, taught it and her International Communication class in the fall semester was by far my favorite course thus far. Looking back, I should have fulfilled some more requirements during this semester, as I finished my first year without having completed a single Field of Study and without having met all my breadth requirements. Still, I don’t think this is unusual for Fletcher students as some of us tend to be all over the place. So if you’re in a similar situation, no need for panic whatsoever.
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Boston, MA
The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy Summer Fellow
Toward the end of my first semester, I began developing an interest in education, learning, and in particular, higher education reform. This seemed to be a natural extension of my interest in communication technologies and technological innovation, and especially after observing how learning could be enhanced in university classrooms, I became quite passionate about the ways in which technology could transform education. As a result, I applied for the Rappaport Fellowship for Public Policy offered through the Harvard Kennedy School, and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 14 Rappaport fellows. This allowed me to pick the state agency I would want to be involved with, and the Department of Higher Education was an obvious choice. There, I spent 10 weeks working with public institutions on various forward-looking initiatives advancing public higher education in Massachusetts, focusing on technology-based projects in particular. It was a great experience for many reasons, and helped me tailor my professional interests and academic direction.
- Starting New Ventures
- International Organizations
- Social Networks in Organizations (1/2 credit)
- Independent Study – Thesis (1/2 credit)
- Transforming Education through Emerging Technologies (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
I came into this semester quite focused. I took a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to advance my knowledge of the educational technology field, after spending an entire summer learning as much about the topic as I possibly could. This was a great decision. I met some great people, forged new relationships, and significantly extended my network. Moreover, my class project would turn into paid work the following semester, and may extend beyond this semester. I enrolled in International Organizations because I had to fulfill my last breadth requirement. I was not too happy about this, as I had been avoiding ILO (International Legal Order) courses since the beginning of my Fletcher career. I was a bit of a curmudgeon in the first week of class, and did not know what to expect from a visiting professor. Well, I would discover that I was 100% wrong on all accounts, as this turned out to be a highly intellectually stimulating class with a top-notch professor who I just absolutely loved. In fact, after swearing to avoid ILO, I decided to enroll in International Criminal Justice in my final semester with the same professor, John Cerone, and even decided to make International Organizations one of my Fields of Study. I think most Fletcher students would agree that a great professor can make all the difference in the world. For me, it made me appreciate and pursue a field I previously felt no interest in. Yes, this can happen in your second year, and it is absolutely thrilling. At the same time, I continued taking business courses, now focusing more specifically on entrepreneurship, new ventures, and innovation, with the idea that I might eventually go into the world of educational technology startups.
- Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
- International Criminal Justice
- U.S. Public Diplomacy
- The Shapes of Utopia (Harvard Graduate School of Design)
My last semester has featured a combination of requirements and electives. Another business course to solidify my understanding of innovation and new ventures; a course on U.S. public diplomacy to expand my familiarity with communication in the public sector; the aforementioned International Criminal Justice course to pursue my newly discovered interest in international law; and, well, yes, a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. This class was recommended to me by a classmate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I decided to give it a shot. It’s been an amazing course — highly theoretical and philosophical — and precisely what I wanted from my last semester of graduate school. This really affirms my belief that almost every field has some relevance to international relations: the Shapes of Utopia course has been as much about economics, politics, and sociology as it has been about architecture. I would indeed recommend venturing out and taking advantage of all the academic and learning resources and opportunities that Boston has to offer – even if it seems like you’re not exactly following your chosen academic trajectory.
On Monday, Fletcher was its usual busy self — students coming and going to classes and generally still doing what they do. Even Tuesday, the Hall of Flags looked pretty normal, granted without the ebb and flow of students heading to and returning from classes. By Wednesday — quiet! Very few students about, or at least they’re closed in exam rooms and study spaces.
Given that it’s exam week, more surprising than the quiet is the amount that is still happening. Yesterday and today, Fletcher is hosting the Inclusive Cities Forum and Solutions Symposium. A cast of scholars and luminaries, including former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, generated lively conversation at yesterday’s sessions.
On Wednesday, students kept their exam-week spirits up with the traditional Fletcher Follies. (Whatever happens at Follies, stays at Follies. Not much more for me to say.)
And last night, the fourth semesterly Fletcher Recital took place. A long-standing Thursday night commitment has kept me from attending any of the previous recitals, which I regretted even before I experienced last night’s fantastic event! So much talent among these students (and a couple of professors, and one daughter of a student)! Most surprising piece, without a doubt, was Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android,” arranged by Prof. Katrina Burgess and played by her and three students in a string quartet. (Our own Admissions intern, Ayako, was the cellist. Go Ayako!)
These are the last events for the 2013-2014 academic year. For first-year students, only exams stand between them and their summer activities. Graduating students will soon be looking toward Commencement. That gives those of us who work in the summer another two weeks with students in the building, before we start our own quiet summer.
I met yesterday with most of our student bloggers — Mirza, Scott, Mark, Diane, Liam, and Roxanne (who wasn’t able to join us, unfortunately). It’s strange that this was our farewell gathering, as it was also the first time that we had been together this year — nearly all of our interactions have been via email. (Some introductions were even needed.) Nonetheless, I’m glad that I’ll still be working with Mark, Diane, and Liam next year, and I’m going to be sad when Scott, Mirza, and Roxanne graduate next month.
We’re nearing the end of the second year of my little blog experiment, which consisted of reaching out to a few students (with no writing “audition” involved) and asking them to write semi-regularly about their Fletcher experience. I hope that blog readers agree that the six of them, plus Maliheh last year, have shined a light on what it’s like to be a Fletcher student.
The idea of having students tell their own stories came to me about two years ago. There’s nothing revolutionary about the idea, and any challenges came from the implementation. In particular, the key flaw in the plan is that students are already doing a lot of writing, and they have limited time. Writing for the blog often slides to the back burner. (And the only compensation is a Fletcher water bottle filled with trail mix.) My job, then, is primarily to provide gentle reminders, while understanding that many other Fletcher commitments need to come first. The gathering itself served as a kind of reminder, and I believe that we’ll have another five or six posts from this group before the summer.
Yesterday’s meeting resulted in a few new ideas. First, there was agreement that two posts per semester per student is a fair goal. I agreed that I should aim to bring in at least one more international student when I recruit first-year bloggers in September. And we decided that on about October 1, I’ll post a survey so that prospective students can ask questions of the student bloggers. Overall, though, we’ll stick with the concept of having students suggest topics that interest them and then figuring out “deadlines” that work, in and around their other assignments. It’s an evolving project, and one that gives me an additional opportunity to work with students, which is one of the best parts of my job.
What better way to kick off a new week than to learn about students and their fermentation activities. Second-year MALD student, Bob Lynch (who also works for the University’s Office of Sustainability) tells us about the Fermentation 101 club’s activities.
The answer? They’re all the product of fermentation, a process of food preparation and preservation that has been utilized by human populations for over 5,000 years all across the globe.
Fermentation is the process by which microorganisms — usually yeast or bacteria — biochemically break down starches and sugars to produce alcohols or acids. Even though it has only recently been understood with modern science and technology, since its discovery it has been an integral method to prepare and store food for nearly every human culture. Fermentation is what makes bread rise, gives wine its ability to be stored for hundreds of years, and provides many of the positive health benefits of pickled foods. In a sense, one cannot celebrate and understand food and drink without celebrating and understanding fermentation.
At Fletcher, the Fermentation 101 club celebrates this once mysterious process by hosting events ranging from food tastings to brewery tours, giving Fletcher students an opportunity to learn more about one of the most culturally significant pieces of human culinary history. With well over 100 members, it is one of Fletcher’s most popular and celebrated student organizations.
Just this semester, the Fermentation 101 club teamed up with the Fletcher Food Policy Club to offer a tour of Boston’s Harpoon Brewery, participated in the Friedman School’s Slow Food Brew Off (where one Fletcher student’s home-brewed beer won third place among 16 competing beers), and has hosted bread and cheese tastings. One of the club’s more popular undertakings is beer brewing, for which the club hosts students who are excited to learn about the fermentation process while taking a break from their studies. During these brewing events, Fermentation club members meticulously go through beer brewing step-by-step, using the same tools, ingredients, and techniques that have been used since the Renaissance to prepare one of the world’s most popular beverages.
And, yes, when everything is said, done, and fermented, club members get to kick back and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Tagged with: Cool stuff!
Some lovely news for Roxanne, our second-year student blogger and a rock star in the Fletcher community. In a ceremony yesterday, Roxanne was given the University’s Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service. Lucky for me, another student, Kate, grabbed a photo:
In his introduction, Dean Sheehan refers to Roxanne’s TED talk, which you may also want to watch.
Congratulations to Roxanne!!
It’s a rare Fletcher student who pursues only one out-of-class activity, and our student bloggers are no exception. First-year MALD student, Liam, is training with the Tufts Marathon Team to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon. As many readers know, this year’s Marathon will be different from the norm, coming one year after the tragic events of 2013, and giving many runners a sense of mission that goes beyond their personal best times. Here’s Liam’s report.
One of the incredible opportunities available to Fletcher students is the chance to join the Tufts Marathon Team and train for and run the Boston Marathon. Each year, the Tufts Marathon Team gets 100 bib numbers for students, faculty, staff, and alumni from throughout the Tufts community to run the race. With participants ranging from first-time runners to seasoned veterans of multiple marathons, Coach Don Megerle does an amazing job training and selecting the team, and he provides unmatched motivation and advice to ensure that all runners finish. The team supports two long runs each week, as well as a weekly speed workout, and in the winter the team takes part in five long runs that cover the entire Marathon course. By participating in these runs, Fletcher students can meet other graduate students from throughout Tufts, as well as undergrads and some great alumni and staff, helping us make connections to those we may not otherwise meet, outside the walls of Ginn library. All runners raise money towards nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Since the Team’s inception in 2003, runners have raised over $4 million.
This year, obviously, the Marathon takes on even more significance than it normally does in the fabric of Boston. The tragic events of April 15, 2013 united the Boston community, and each runner on the Tufts team is strongly committed to the event. The stories of a few of this year’s 13 Fletcher runners speak to how incredible this year’s race will be. Second-year Fletcher student Alex Nisetich sums up his Marathon story as follows:
I’m a Boston native, and the Marathon has always been a part of my life here. I decided to run after last year’s attack, as a demonstration of solidarity with the runners and with my home city. My own family narrowly missed being caught in the attack, and in a different year we could all have been there at the finish line. I’m running because it feels like the best way I can support my community and commemorate the events of last year.
Training has become an end in itself as well. Getting out on the road, especially first thing in the morning, is a great way to overcome any fears you might have of a New England winter. The Fletcher community and Tufts are both very supportive of the runners, which makes it a pleasure to train. The team runs really build camaraderie and make it fun.
Another second-year MALD student, Stéfane Laroche, shares a similar tale:
I have always enjoyed running and flirted with the idea of running a marathon for many years, however I never had the courage and the motivation to train. Last year’s events at the Marathon changed my perspective. The devastation happened so close to home that it touched me, and I decided to run in order to support the Boston Strong campaign. When life knocks you down, you’ve got to be strong, pick yourself up, and continue to live. It’s an honor for me to run with all those other marathoners who will pay tribute to last year’s victims and who will make a statement against intolerance and misunderstandings that fuel hatred and anger around the world.
For me, personally, I had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan when the bombing happened. Growing up in Central Massachusetts, the attack hit home. Although I had always run in the past due to my job as an Army officer, I never contemplated running another marathon after an ill-advised and untrained undergrad endeavor in 2005. Running the 2014 Boston Marathon became an obsession for me, a way to show the world that we would not let this attack change who we are. I trained for months and ran a marathon in October in nearby Lowell and felt ready to take on the world come the Boston race in April. Then I began dealing with lingering knee and hip injuries, so my training has taken on its own personal journey, as I’ve worked to find ways to balance recovery with running and the ever-demanding life as a Fletcher student. For me, the process has been an incredible voyage of learning about myself, what I value, how hard I will work for it, and what it means to stand as one for a community.
Although every runner’s story is different, one commonality is certain — all 37,000 runners who make that 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street on April 21 will do so with some pain in their legs and sweat on their foreheads, but most importantly, with pride in their hearts. With tens of thousands of supporters cheering us along the course, we will show the world what being Boston Strong is about. Being able to be a part of this has truly been one of the more remarkable aspects of my time thus far at Fletcher.
I often say that I would feel a lot more intelligent if I didn’t work at Fletcher, where everyone else is so smart! But as brainy as our students are, the fact is that everyone can use a little help sometimes. In addition to a generally supportive environment, there are several options that students can draw upon to maximize their academic success.
For many years now, Fletcher has offered a writing program, through which students can schedule appointments with peer tutors. The program invites students to “Make the semester less stressful by meeting with the writing tutors. Use tutoring appointments to make big papers more manageable — set personal interim deadlines with the tutors to discuss your outline, partial drafts, structure, argumentation, etc.” The program director also provides helpful worksheets on peer editing (“Swapping papers with a friend is a smart strategy because everyone’s work benefits from an editor! Plus, editing others’ papers will make you a better writer.”) and reverse outlining (“Because drafted papers often need to be restructured to be more persuasive and logical. Reverse outlining helps you take the content you’ve already created and organize it more effectively.”).
A newer support offering is Presentation Tutors. Inviting students to sign up, our Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Mary, notes, “Developing strong public speaking and presentation skills is an essential part of your Fletcher education. Whether you are preparing for a class presentation, a panel discussion, or a guest lecture, your ability to express yourself clearly and articulately will be vital to your success.” The Presentation Tutors program provides one-to-one support for students who would like to:
- Create, practice or polish an oral presentation
- Learn techniques to strengthen their personal speaking style (body and voice)
- Learn how to use PowerPoint effectively in presentations
- Overcome fears, gain personal confidence, and develop a smooth, polished speaking style
Ultimately, success at Fletcher depends on good preparation and command of course material, but the opportunity to find help when needed in writing or presentations is of great value for our diverse community of students.
Winners of two different competitions were announced this week, and one Fletcher team was successful in both! This exciting news calls for two Cool Stuff blog entries in two days. Here’s an announcement from Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti:
Please join me in congratulating Andrew Lala, F’14 and Tommy Galloway, F’14 as the winners of the inaugural Fletcher D-Prize: Poverty Solutions Venture Competition. Andrew and Tommy will receive $15,000 (and tens of thousands more in non-monetary advice and networks) to help them pilot their Clair de Lune – Solar Light Distributor Platform, which uses existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to reach the rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa. This summer, Andrew and Tommy will bring this “poverty solution venture” to 400 families in Burkina Faso. Fletcher D-Prize judges believe that, in two years, Andrew and Tommy will have an impact on the world by proving that you can provide energy to over 100,000 families living on less than a few dollars a day.
We hope that this award, and the competition among a large number of very strong proposals, signals that Fletcher prepares leaders adept not only at crossing borders of all kinds – disciplinary and geographic – but also with the ability to jump across the border of knowledge into entrepreneurial action. We aspire to develop and facilitate international ninjas, if you will. Andrew and Tommy are two terrific examples of such international ninjas. A family that buys a solar lamp saves money on energy expenses and is more productive outside of daylight hours. Household incomes often increase 15-30%. Study hours for children rise by two hours. Solar lamps also erase the far too common dangers that come with kerosene lanterns.
The award will be presented to Andrew and Tommy today, only two days after they received an “audience choice” award at the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, at which they were finalists (shown in photo above).
This is the 10th anniversary for the Tufts $100K, which prompted a look back. BostInno selected Educate Lanka as one of the top six ventures to come out of the Tufts $100K competition. Congratulations to our good blog friend Manjula!
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