Time for another round of thanks and farewell to a graduating student. Maliheh contributed several posts to the blog this year, despite a heavy in-class and out-of-class workload, and a PhD admissions process that involved twenty schools and one lucky program that she has chosen to attend. I first “met” Maliheh more than a year before she enrolled in the MALD program, when she first corresponded with our office. Once I met her, I became a huge fan. As much as I’ll miss her at Fletcher, I wish her the very best in her coming years of academic toil. But before Maliheh leaves Fletcher, she offers this last post.
It is just that time of the year when everyone at Fletcher is finishing exams and preparing for their upcoming internship or new job. I was preparing for my own internship last year at this time. Everyone would tell me about Fletcher’s incredibly rich alumni network, but before experiencing it myself, I had no clear idea what a valuable resource this network can be.
From the first day I started my work at the World Bank, I tried to expand my professional connections by networking with people in other departments at the bank. To my surprise, in almost every department I could find a Fletcher alum with whom I could meet and talk. Even non-Fletcher people knew very well about Fletcher and would remind me that two current World Bank vice presidents are Fletcher alumni.
Working in the MENA region at the bank, it was not uncommon to hear people speaking in Arabic or Farsi, which I also used in speaking with my supervisor most of the time. You can imagine that it is not easy to pick out English words exchanged in the middle of a conversation that is not in English, but “Fletcher” is a different kind of English word! One day, in the midst of a long conversation in Farsi with my supervisor, and in a quite crowded venue, I said “Fletcher” to refer to a specific theory I had learned in one of my classes, and then returned to Farsi for the remainder of the conversation. The woman sitting next to us picked out that one word and turned to me. She asked, “I heard you say Fletcher. Are you a Fletcher alum or student?” And a very nice conversation followed from there! Later I thought again about what I had heard before coming to the World Bank about Fletcher’s network, and felt very proud to be part of this extensive and supportive community!
Tagged with: Student Stories
The announcement of the appointment of James Savridis as Fletcher’s new dean hit my inbox today. Read below the letter to the community from Tufts Provost David Harris, and you can also refer to the press release on the Fletcher website:
Dear Members of the Tufts Community,
I write today with good news. Following an extensive search that considered candidates from around the world, we have selected Admiral James Stavridis as the next Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Admiral Stavridis graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and later earned a Masters degree and a Ph.D. from Fletcher. He serves currently as Commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander. Previously Admiral Stavridis led the U.S. Southern Command, was charged with leading a critical revision of Navy strategies and tactics after 9/11, and commanded a number of Navy ships and groups.
Admiral Stavridis thoroughly impressed our search committee with his tremendous enthusiasm for Fletcher, his keen understanding of his own strengths and limitations, his track record of building teams and organizations, his eagerness to engage internal and external audiences in support of Fletcher and Tufts, his extraordinary leadership skills, his demonstrated commitment to diversity, and his depth of knowledge and experiences across several areas that are key to the Fletcher mission—diplomacy, security studies, international organizations, and politics.
Admiral Stavridis has the rare combination of intellectual curiosity, social intelligence, humility, leadership skills, and respect from others that have made him one of the great military and political leaders of his generation, and that will make him a spectacular Fletcher Dean and a key member of the university leadership team.
Admiral Stavridis will begin his term on July 1, 2013. He succeeds Dean Stephen Bosworth, who has served with distinction since 2001.
David R. Harris
Provost and Senior Vice President
Through this past Monday, Fletcher looked like it did at any other moment in the semester. Then classes ended and study days began. Exams began yesterday and will continue until next Wednesday, but students have already started to peel away, and many fewer first-year students will be around next Monday than were here earlier this week. It’s only a matter of a week or two before staff are looking like this deer, wondering, “Where is everybody?”
That doesn’t mean that students, faculty, and staff are letting go of the semester easily. Fletcher Follies, a night of fun, closed out the last day of classes. Last night our incredibly talented students (and even some professors) arranged and performed the Fletcher Spring Recital. PhD students will hold a “come lunch with us” event today. The Extreme Inclusion Conference was held yesterday, with meetings today among practitioners. Tomorrow, Fletcher will be the site of an alumni event that happens to include our graduate, Farah Pandith, in addition to former Tufts undergraduates. Overall, the Fletcher calendar doesn’t make it clear that the academic year is coming to an end.
I’ll be honest, staff members enjoy the first quiet weeks of the summer. Suddenly, we’ll find ourselves completing projects that were perpetually on the to-do list throughout the semester. But productivity only goes so far in keeping us happy, and we’ll miss having the rest of the community here with us each day. All the more reason to enjoy next week when students are still around.
Our next Five-Year Update comes from Amlan Saha, who demonstrates true Fletcheresque qualities in a first sentence that includes words from Serbo-Croatian and Arabic and references to three geographic areas. His photo adds a third geographic area — it was taken in Guatemala. Here’s Amlan’s story:
It all started in 2001, when, over some Slovak slivovica on a felucca in the Nile, a fellow traveler who had just finished work in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer enthused about her plans to study public policy in graduate school. I was already thinking about going back to school, but until then had spared no thought for anything other than an MBA.
Since graduating from the National University of Singapore with a degree in engineering in 1998, I had worked at a national research laboratory, set up an internet/telecoms company, which went bust in 2001 along with the collapse of the dotcom bubble, and then worked for the German engineering giant Siemens. In short, technology and business summed up my pre-Fletcher professional experience.
But I was also a nerd (still am!) who loved politics far more than sports. At around the same time that I was giving shape to my graduate school dream, oil prices hit $35 a barrel, climbing about 300 percent in just 18 months. Listening to the talking heads in the following weeks provided a timely reminder that in the business of energy, geopolitics and regulation were never far away. I was onto something.
Because my undergraduate degree was in engineering, I still wanted to do an MBA, but the conversation on the boat in Egypt led me to explore programs that brought together public policy, business decision making, and national security. The possibility of shaping political processes that create rules, regulations, and programs to impact society was exciting.
In 2004, I started attending the Fletcher (MALD) and HEC Paris (MBA) dual degree program.
The MBA part of my program, which I completed before arriving in Medford, focused on economics and finance. At Fletcher, therefore, I dived headlong into public policy and international security.
Fletcher’s MALD curriculum was flexible enough to let me to create my own “Public Policy Analysis” Field of Study from the long list of courses on offer. In fact, the list was so long, all incredibly good and tempting, that letting me choose my own classes was a bit like giving a kid the key to the candy store. I also cross-registered at the Harvard Law School.
I found Prof. Gideon’s classes particularly valuable. Skills I picked up in her classes have been extremely helpful in modeling real-life policy conundrums at work since graduation.
After graduating from Fletcher, I joined the strategic energy/environmental consulting firm M.J. Bradley and Associates. At MJB&A, I assist energy companies to navigate regulatory and market issues, assess economic implications of environmental regulations, and drive wholesale electricity market development.
Uniquely satisfying rewards at work include, among others, having the Chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate refer to my analysis when discussing energy legislation and a Congressman use my work as a prop to explain to constituents his support for an energy bill.
I am currently a Vice President at the firm.
I also write (less frequently than I would like to) a blog.
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
It’s May 1, the date when incoming international students submit the first round of paperwork to kick off the process to obtain a U.S. visa to study at Fletcher. Most will work closely with Carol Murphy, our International Student Advisor. But in the Admissions Office, we’re also fortunate that Christine came to Fletcher from a position where she was the visa expert. So, for all our international students, here’s Christine’s explanation of the steps of this complicated process.
You’ve been admitted and you have decided to enroll! You are excited about starting your studies in the United States. You are already starting looking at housing and talking with students on the Admitted Student Facebook page. But wait! There is one more big step that you, the international student, need to take: applying for a visa.
Some of you may be familiar with the process already and know terms like I-20, SEVIS, liquid and available funds, and I-94 card. But for those of you who are new to all of this, I am here to help!
THE VISA PROCESS
- Certification of Funds: Your first step is to complete the Certification of Funds form. It is extremely important that you follow the directions exactly and provide all the needed materials so it does not delay the visa process. As you already know, the form is due today, but please note that you cannot apply for a visa more than 120 days from the start of the school term.
- The I-20: Once your Certification of Funds has been approved, the International Student Advisor will issue the I-20. This document will contain your SEVIS number, available funds, and school information. You must have this with you when you attend your visa interview, when you enter the United States, and when you arrive at Fletcher.
- Pay the SEVIS fee: The SEVIS fee can be paid online via credit card for most countries. There are a few restrictions, though, so if you have questions, check first with the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you. If you are traveling with dependents (spouse or children), you will NOT need to pay a SEVIS fee for them. The fee is only for the student.
- Complete the DS-160 with photograph: You will complete the form online, pay the DS-160 fee, upload a passport-sized (two inches by two inches) photograph and print the form to bring for your interview. If you are traveling with dependents, a form and fee will needed for EACH of them. I recommend you complete the DS-160 at least two days before your interview.
- Schedule an Interview: Once you have received your I-20, paid the SEVIS fee, completed the DS-160, and obtained photographs, you can schedule your interview with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Most interviews can be scheduled online, however please check with your specific consulate or embassy. Many of the consulates have a website to answer questions about how they approach the process, such as this one from the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai.
- Prepare for the Interview: The interview is one of the most important parts of the visa process. The consular officer will approve or deny your visa based on your answers and preparedness during the interview. Make sure that you are prepared to answer questions like: Why do you want to study in the United States? Why can you not study in your home country? What do you plan on doing after you have completed your studies? Do you have any relatives in the United States? Where do they live? It is important that you are honest with the officer, but you do not need to share more information than what is directly asked of you.
- Make sure you bring to the interview: your passport, I-20, DS-160, photographs, Certification of Funds and supporting documents, test scores, acceptance letter, and any other pertinent information.
- Obtaining Your Visa: Once your application has been approved, the visa officer will take your passport from you so that they can put in the visa stamp. The process varies by consulate or embassy, so make sure you ask how long it will take and how you will get your passport back. The Department of State offers information about visa wait times by country on its website.
- Travel to the United States: You are finally on board and about to touch down on U.S. soil! On the airplane, you will fill out an I-94 card. Don’t be fooled by its small size: this is THE most important document to have with you. If you lose this, it is extremely costly to replace, takes a lot of time, and can jeopardize your visa standing. Once off the plane, you will go through immigration and customs. An immigration officer will check your documents (make sure you pack everything listed above in the interview section in your carry-on), stamp your passport and I-94, and let you through. Welcome!
The visa process is complicated, so make sure that you ask questions to the International Student Advisor, Carol Murphy, or the consulate/embassy. Become familiar with the Student Visas website and your consulate/embassy website.
Safe travels and we look forward to meeting you!
Today is the last day of classes for the spring 2013 semester, and it’s also the last day of Fletcher classes for (Dear) Ariel. There are many second-year students I will wish to thank in person or in the blog for their contributions to the community, and Ariel will be the first.
Ariel started work as an Admissions Intern in September 2011 and she is the quiet super-charged engine of the student staff. There’s no task that she doesn’t complete efficiently, and that includes writing a Dear Ariel column. A typical week had me sauntering over to her on a Tuesday at noon and asking if, based on questions turning up by email, she had any ideas for a blog post. By 12:30, a perfect piece of writing was in my inbox.
Ariel’s final column today returns to the basics of advising prospective applicants. Next year I’ll face the challenge of finding another writer who may come close to Ariel’s efficiency and skill. For now: Thanks, Dear Ariel!
Dear Ariel: Is my GPA competitive for Fletcher?
Every student admitted by Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions must be able to succeed in Fletcher classes, and the applicant’s academic profile is the most important aspect of an application. But academic potential (which is indicated primarily by GPA, test scores, and recommendations) is still only one part of the application. We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement, and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations. Even a strong GPA, in the absence of international and professional experience, does not guarantee admission. Since Fletcher students come from a broad range of educational backgrounds that utilize different grading scales, calculating an average GPA for all admitted students is impossible. Among admitted students who attended colleges or universities using a 4.0 scale, the middle fifty percent of GPAs has fallen in the range of 3.4 to 3.8 in recent years.
Tagged with: Dear Ariel
Returning to the questions blog readers asked me to cover this spring, Mirza is going to describe options for cross-registration. The opportunity to cross-register for up to a quarter of the classes a student takes toward a Fletcher degree is one of the factors that makes us say that no two students graduate with exactly the same curriculum.
One of the many great options at Fletcher is cross-registering at other graduate units of Tufts or Harvard University, or even beyond. (Keep in mind that MALD or MIB students are allowed to cross-register for four classes total during the two years at Fletcher.) With so many great higher education institutions in Boston, such cooperation and sharing of resources among different schools makes sense and you should by all means take full advantage.
Currently, in my second semester at Fletcher, I am taking two classes at Harvard — one at Harvard Kennedy School (Values, Interests and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy) and one at Harvard Law School (Political Economy After the Crisis). They have both been challenging but intellectually rewarding, and have offered a slightly different perspective and learning environment from Fletcher. Combining such outside academic experience with the Fletcher experience has been, at least for me, extremely valuable.
Not everyone, however, will find cross-registering beneficial to their academic and professional path. For some, Fletcher offers exactly what they need, and this is perfectly fine. It can also be overwhelming to browse through hundreds of captivating courses at other schools, in addition to over a hundred amazing courses at Fletcher. Still, it is an option well worth keeping in mind as you think about the courses and fields that you’d like to pursue while in graduate school. One piece of advice is that you should not cross-register during your first semester at Fletcher. The incipient relationships that you form with your classmates are quite important, and you don’t want to hinder that vital component of the graduate school experience. As you settle in, however, venturing outside of Fletcher and Tufts will not be a problem, and will likely add considerable value to your academic growth.
Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons to cross-registering. Here are a few tips, based on my experience, to keep in mind should you wish to cross-register:
- A different perspective (Always a good thing.)
- A new network (Also always a good thing.)
- A better awareness of the many free events, lectures, and seminars in the area. (These are the activities from which you will learn a whole lot — really worth exploring, and Harvard offers a great deal of them, all throughout the academic year.)
- Harvard Square (It’s quite lovely, but bring waterproof boots in the winter.)
- Access to the beautiful Harvard libraries (They are, indeed, quite nice.)
- Time spent traveling to Harvard Square (Not so bad, but in the rain and during midterms/finals… it can become a drag.)
- Group work taking place outside of Fletcher (So even more time spent traveling.)
- Conflicting class schedules between Fletcher and Harvard (Not usually a problem, but HBS especially can be tricky.)
- Nostalgia for Fletcher (It’s true — we’re all at Fletcher because we love it for one reason or another, so it’s possible to start missing your “real” home even if you’re away for just a short while.)
Overall, cross-registration is not a biggie, and there are so many great courses that it’s worth at least a quick look to see if something strikes you. The rest is just logistics — a bit annoying, but not enough to prevent you from taking a great class. A quick note regarding MIT, Boston University, and other Boston-area schools: they do not participate in the official cross-registration process with Fletcher, but it’s possible to take classes there with the instructor’s permission and a couple of logistical “tricks.” Feel free to talk to me about it if you wish to find out more — I’ll be taking classes at both MIT and BU next year.
Some readers (specifically, those who have decided to accept a spot on the waitlist) may be wondering about the current state of the enrollment process, and I’m here to report. Most of our admitted applicants were required to make their decisions on enrolling by April 20, this past Saturday. A few have until May 1, but the class is starting to take shape. In the coming week, we’ll be doing some clean-up work and counting enrolling students.
Does this represent new information for those on the waitlist? Not really, but I know that the correspondence vacuum can be hard to deal with. And there is something that you can do. First, if you plan to remain on the waitlist, please be sure that you have indicated that decision to us. Your deadline is technically May 1, but why wait? Second, if you or your pal have accepted a place on the waitlist but no longer want to wait, it would be great if you would communicate that decision to us, too.
Please contact us if you have questions. I’ll be back with more information whenever there is some, most likely not until May.
Tagged with: waitlist
Going to be in town this summer, and thinking of getting a jump on your Fletcher studies? You may be interested in our summer school. Open to those who have completed their undergraduate education, as well as rising seniors, here are the details:
I’m going to kick off the week with a new Five-Year Update. Jason is a thoroughly memorable member of the Fletcher community, and particularly of the Admissions student staff. He both worked in the office and also served a year on the Admissions Committee. Here’s his update.
I was still in the Peace Corps when I first visited the Fletcher website. On it was a short account of one student’s Fletcher summer. I remember reading with a mix of envy and awe. The student had done seemingly everything — traveling to several Asian countries doing development work, thesis research, and some other adventures on the side. She seemed to embody everything I hoped to be: a restless mind in the thick of it, who was using grad study to actively and deliberately lay the groundwork for a future career. From that point on, Fletcher became my first choice in graduate schools. I wanted to be surrounded by students like that person. Heck, I wanted to be that person. Every Fletcher interaction that followed confirmed that Fletcher was where I wanted to be. My communication with the Admissions Office. My first visit to the Hall of Flags. I was so sure about Fletcher that it ended up being the only school I applied to. If graduate school isn’t Fletcher, I thought, then I don’t want graduate school.
Not long after, I was in the thick of my own Fletcher summer. I did project work in the bush of Uganda, followed by refugee thesis research in Central America. I finished with a leadership conference in France. I’d visited three continents in three months and got to focus on everything from activity design, to policy formation, to the dynamics of international negotiation. I’m not rich. All of this was mostly funded by Fletcher-related sources. That summer was a microcosm of the Fletcher experience itself. It’s as diverse as you want it to be. There are no limits. Fletcher gave me the freedom to mold my degree as I went along; my degree, rather than feeling like an exercise in path dependence, felt like it was in a constant, enthralling state of becoming. The rigor of study exposed my weaknesses, and the support of the School and community gave me the confidence to address them. I left Fletcher with a clear vision of the impact I wanted to make and the confidence that I had the skills to be successful.
Following Fletcher, I became a Presidential Management Fellow and worked at USAID on humanitarian food assistance programs. During my first years I worked on the Haiti earthquake response and Madagascar during a coup, and I covered Sudan during the referendum that created South Sudan, the world’s newest nation. Two years ago I converted to the USAID foreign service and am the deputy chief of the food assistance office in Ethiopia — the largest of its kind in the world. It’s a tough job but I love it. I think back often to what I learned at Fletcher and I know that the School’s equal emphasis on skill building and community were the perfect preparation for my work. My days are a jumble of activity management, policy advocacy, and negotiation — all the things that made that summer so interesting. I feel like the work I do is important and that my personal role in unfolding events matters. I took a few Peace Corps volunteers out to dinner the other night. I listened to them talk about their projects and admired their enthusiasm. Some were thinking about careers in this field. For me, Fletcher was the bridge between being a relative beginner and being a professional. I know I wasn’t the first to cross that bridge and I certainly won’t be the last.
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