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Continuing our return to spring break, along with yesterday’s post by McKenzie, today we’ll read about Tatsuo’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.  Fletcher offered a trek to this region, but Tatsuo will explain that he ended up joining students from Harvard Kennedy School for their trek.

Over the recent spring break, Fletcher students organized a Fletcher Policy Trek to Israel.  I applied for Fletcher’s trek, but I wasn’t accepted because there was a lot of competition for the available places; however, I had another opportunity to join such a trek to Israel, through Harvard Kennedy School.  Many events at HKS welcome the participation of Fletcher students.  I think that having access to the resources of one of the world’s largest universities is a big advantage of Fletcher.

In line with this, I eventually joined HKS’s Israel trek.  It was a little more costly than that of Fletcher because of the size.  (HKS’s trek had over 100 students, while Fletcher’s trek is limited to about 50 participants. The funding resources were about equal, which meant I needed to pay more.)  But the places we visited were almost the same and I was also pleased to make friends with enjoyable and interesting students from HKS and other Harvard schools.

I knew something about Israel and the neighboring Palestinian territories as a Japanese public officer and a student of international relations.  However, through the entire trek, I realized that knowledge from books (or the internet) is just knowledge itself.  Everything I saw, everywhere I went, and everyone I met were interesting, thoughtful, and impressive.

Tatsuo, Golan 2In an area of Israel near the Gaza district, we saw concrete-covered bus stops and other shelters to avoid rocket bombing from Gaza.  The IDF base at the Gaza border crossing had a very serious atmosphere.  On the other hand, in the Golan Heights, the other area fronting a conflict zone, we were surprised by the peaceful scenery.  We drove through an old Syrian Army headquarters, trenches, broken battle tanks, and dead villages.  We also saw an ISIS controlled town, Quneitra from the top of the hill in the Golan Heights.  The Syrian Army and ISIS are still fighting over the area, but UN peacekeeping officers seemed to be relaxed and welcomed us to take a picture with them.  There were also many tourists chatting and drinking coffee.  The contrast between the peaceful scenery, old military facilities, and the ongoing conflict area was very strange.

The wallThe contrast between the Palestinian areas and Israeli occupied villages in the West Bank was also thought-provoking.  Over the separation wall/security fence, we faced an undeveloped and struggling community.  Almost all buildings placed black plastic tanks to store water on the roofs.  The landscape with many steep hills seemed to be hard to cultivate.  By contrast, the Israeli villages were well developed, beautiful, and clean.  I had already understood that the Israeli people enjoyed well-developed lives, unlike those of the Palestinians.  But I was moved by the clear and sad contrast in very close vicinity.

When we walked around the old city of Jerusalem, the guide said we walked on the floor of the Jewish district and on the roof of the Muslim district at the same time.

Israel is very small country.  We could see the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv from the hills of the West Bank.  However, I was surprised by the power of Israel.  I don’t mean the military power.  There were modern and developed cities, well-maintained infrastructure, beautiful cultivated fields, and green forests.  I heard that most trees in Israel were specially planted, not wild.  Compared with other Middle East countries that I have been to, the land of Israel seemed to be an oasis in the desert.  I was impressed by the power but I also felt mixed emotions.  The oasis did not benefit the surrounding region and people, including the Palestinian people, unlike a natural oasis that can feed anyone who visits there.

Western WallWhile I was moved by such interesting but complex experiences, I also enjoyed the trek by swimming in the Dead Sea, riding camels, and of course, eating and drinking!  In particular, the region has a lot of historical sites.  Masada, the ancient fortress of Jewish rebels against the Roman Empire was one of the most interesting places for me.  I climbed the hill using the ramp that the Roman Army built for attacking thousands of years ago, and from the steep edge, I observed the walls and camps of the great empire.

The entire trek was a very nice opportunity for me.  Although I could always visit Israel by myself, on the trek I visited places that would be hard to go to if I went by myself.  I met people who are too busy to meet with a typical tourist such as Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister of the Palestine Authority, and Yair Lapid, the former minister of finance of Israel.  And I shared the time and my feelings with many interesting Harvard friends.

Now, I am still struggling to catch up on the tasks that I had to skip because HKS’s spring break was one week before that of Fletcher.  But the trek was surely worth the hard work.  If you will be at Fletcher next spring, I strongly recommend that you join Fletcher’s or HKS’s Israel Trek, or another interesting study trek that might be offered!

Tatsuo collage

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This week is April vacation week for Massachusetts school children, and I’m going to use that as my explanation for turning the clock back to the March spring break for Fletcher students.  Student bloggers McKenzie and Tatsuo will each describe their travels far from campus.  First, McKenzie writes about the trip she planned with friends.

Hey all,

I’m back from a brief blog hiatus these past few months and want to share an update from an amazing spring break trip I took at the end of March.  Along with five other Fletcher friends, I traveled to New Delhi, India for what was one of the more action-packed yet wonderful spring breaks I’ve had.

Before @ Holi

McKenzie, third from left, and Fletcher friends with their host.

After 22 hours of travel, our crew arrived in hazy New Delhi at roughly 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Unsure of the time and date, we hopped in a car sent by a classmate of ours who grew up in the city and we sped toward her family’s home, where we were greeted with hot showers and a wonderful, homemade breakfast.

Soon we loaded back in a car and headed just outside the south side of Delhi to a garment factory in Faridabad.  A classmate on our trip who previously worked at Gap arranged the visit, as the factory was the first in Gap Inc.’s network to launch the PACE (Personal Advancement & Career Achievement) program, designed to empower women working in the factory and and to provide leadership development to enhance their careers and build confidence.  After learning about the program’s origins, we met with some of the women who had attended the program and since advanced to line management positions.  Then, we got to tour the factory and see the production first-hand.  The experience overall was a lot to take in, but it was truly a Fletcher-esque opportunity.

Following the factory visit, we returned to our friend’s home in time to change and head to her cousin’s house to watch what we learned was a very important cricket match.  If my understanding is correct, India-Pakistan cricket matches of the type and level we got to watch are not very frequent, which meant the celebration was on par with some of the better Super Bowl parties I’ve heard about back in the States.  At around 11:00 p.m. that night, we returned home for some much-needed sleep.  And that was just the first day.

Group @ Taj MahalOver the next few days, we traveled to Agra and Jaipur to see several famous monuments, treat ourselves to some fabulous Indian food, and browse Jaipur’s famous fabric and other markets.  On Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to New Delhi in time for one of the greatest national holidays I’ve had the privilege to experience: Holi.

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that, from what I was told, celebrates the conquering of good over evil and the coming of spring.  The night before Holi, many people light a bonfire, which signifies the burning of Holika.  Our hosts also tossed wheat chaffs into the fire as a symbol of thanks for the impending harvest.

The next day, we had the opportunity to “play Holi” with our friend’s extended family, which consisted first of a short Hindu ceremony with all the family present.  The ceremony ends with some tame additions of colored powder to the foreheads of those present, after which the family moves to an outdoor courtyard and the fun really begins.  While you start the day in pristinely clean clothes, you end up covered in pink, blue, green, yellow, red, and orange dye – in your clothes, in your hair, on your face, and in my case even in your contact lenses (one of mine was bright yellow!).  Fletcher does HoliEverywhere.  I promise, it’s a great time.  The most wonderful part of Holi is that truly everyone participates.  Young and old, men and women, everyone joins in and plays.  The kids of the family even developed a full attack plan complete with code words: they hoped to distract us by shouting “hamburger!” then lure us “with words” to be subsequently doused by water balloons and water guns.  I suppose they have a few more years to learn the finer points of diplomacy and international affairs…

Holi traditions - dye barrelThe day culminated in what has to be a family-specific tradition: each of us in turn was dunked in a barrel drum of homemade, bright yellow flower dye.  Even three weeks after Holi, there were still minor tints of that yellow in my hair.  It was a great reminder of a wonderful trip, and is a great example of the many ways that Fletcher students contrive to fill their time with enriching yet adventurous trips during their time away from school.

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Two of the Admissions Office’s favorite students will be spending much of today running the Boston Marathon.  Moni, who is also an Admissions Graduate Assistant, and Niko are the only two Fletcher students on the Tufts Marathon Team this year.  They have been training and fundraising for months and, last I checked, were feeling confident.  It will be warm today, but the breeze off the water may keep the runners cool.

Many other students will be heading out to the race course to cheer them on.  Because really, running Boston for your first marathon is awesome.  Registered to participate are 30,000 runners — most of whom met the required time standard, with about 5,000 running to raise funds for charitable organizations.  Niko and Moni, like other members of the Tufts Marathon Team, are raising funds for “nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.”

So give a cheer for Moni and Niko, Fletcher’s own marathoners!

Moni and Niko

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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.

Carmyn, HoF1 

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.

Helen, HoF
Helen is such a good sport that she let Kristen convince her to come looking for us!

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.

Halley, HoF
Not content to interrupt one person at a time, Kristen and I set our sights on a study group.

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.

Peter group, HoF
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!

Nate group, HoF
Next I saw a familiar face from the PhD program.

Liz, MALD ‘94, PhD ’16 (who told us she was visiting Fletcher to guest lecture for Professor Conley-Zilkic’s class on Understanding Mass Atrocities):

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.”

Liz M, HoF
We chatted a bit more with Liz about how earning your PhD is a very big deal, and then she was off to her guest-lecture gig.

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…

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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:

Blue Water Metrics

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,

Prof. Weitz

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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
Amber Atteridge

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
Bryan Stinchfield

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
Jonathan Ramteke

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
Aditi Sethi

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.

Emma Johnston

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.

100KIn 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:

Blue Water Metrics

PowerShare, which also competed last year.



And you can (as usual) follow the competition on Twitter.  Good luck to our entrepreneurial students!

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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.

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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.

Kat Trujillo


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.)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Fields of Study
Strategic Management and International Consultancy
International Business and Economic Law

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility

Curriculum Overview

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)

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)

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!

Summer Internship
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)

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)

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!

Ali, ski trip

Ali, second from right, on January’s student-organized ski trip.

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