For today’s daily dose of inspiration, I want to tell you about the latest adventure of my friend, and Fletcher grad, Charles Scott, F94.  I’ve written about Charlie before — there’s often an international flavor to his adventures — though he’s hardly the traditional Fletcher graduate.

This month’s adventure was to guide a blind athlete to ascend the Inca Trail nonstop, to the historic site of Machu Picchu.  Charlie, his friend Dan, who lost his sight as an adult, and two other friend/athletes have joined together to form Team See Possibilities.  They took on their latest challenge only after a successful rim-to-rim-to-rim Grand Canyon run about a year ago (garnering plenty of press attention).  Here’s how the team members introduced themselves and their plan before their latest run:

Shortly after arriving in Peru, Charlie sent a note to friends saying:

This high elevation mountain trek to Machu Picchu normally takes four days and climbs over three mountain passes that reach as high as 14,000 feet.  We’ll try to complete it in one day.  In our planning meeting yesterday, the Peruvian guide who has completed the trek 215 times told us, “What you are planning to do is not impossible, but the local authorities think it’s crazy for anyone to try, let alone with a blind person.”

We’re working with UNICEF to encourage children with disabilities to participate in sports.  During our visit, we will meet with blind students at a school in Lima, Peru.  Dan, who decided to become an endurance athlete after going blind in his 30s, offers a reminder that each one of us can overcome even the greatest of obstacles.  I hope, as the students hear Dan’s story, they will be inspired to come up with and dive fearlessly into their own adventures and, like Dan, see blindness as an inconvenience to be overcome rather than a disability that prevents them from living life to the fullest.

So far, Charlie and the team have shared only limited information on the results of the run.  I assume there will be more news soon via Twitter and the team website.  But we know they achieved their amazing goal!

I confess — I often tell Charlie (jokingly?) that he’s crazy, but sometimes another person’s crazy ideas become genuinely inspiring, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about the extraordinary efforts of Dan, Charlie, Brad, and Alison.  If their next plan evolves on schedule, I look forward to writing in about a year about a successful run for Team See Possibilities on the Great Wall of China.


Time to wrap up the reports on summer internships.  Today, Ali tells us about her summer at YUM! Brands, a major multinational company that just happens to be located in her home town of Louisville, Kentucky.

When’s the last time you looked at a utility bill?  What about 20,000 utility bills?  That’s what I was doing this summer at YUM! Brands — the parent company for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.

Ali and the ColonelIt may sound mind-numbing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the task.  It cut across key departments and supported answers to questions, including:

  • What is the role of a for-profit company in addressing global climate change and water scarcity?
  • How do we communicate with franchisees about sustainability and cost tradeoffs in the supply chain?
  • What’s the best way to collect and manage CSR (corporate social responsibility) data from places like the U.S., China, and Australia?  Are we only responsible for equity markets, or are we responsible for franchisee markets, too?
  • What do investors care about, and how does sustainability affect YUM!’s stock price?
  • Should investors and governments encourage utilities to standardize units, billing cycles, and other statement features, as they increase their corporate water and greenhouse gas accounting requests, too?

Under the guidance of the Chief Sustainability Officer and YUM!’s Global Sustainability team, I collaborated with employees from government affairs, foundation, supply chain, IT, investor relations, and more, to author the company’s WDP (water disclosure project) report; develop its water stewardship strategy; select a new data management system; and engage employees, investors, and ESG (Environmental, Social And Governance) research agencies, around YUM!’s sustainability efforts and their connection to its stock price.

I enjoyed my time at YUM!, and this semester, I’m continuing my work from there through my involvement with Net Impact and my internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors, where I’m learning about sustainability from the fixed income investor’s perspective.

Breckinridge actively recruits Fletcher students, and I’m grateful that coming here for my degree gives me the opportunity to shift my career focus and intern in different settings than I’ve worked in before.

I’m looking forward to reporting more about the great and final year ahead!

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Yesterday slipped by me without a chance to write a “today’s the deadline” post.  Applications for January enrollment in the MALD or MIB program were due yesterday, and today the staff is doing what needs to be done to make the applications ready to read, as well as to let applicants know if any materials are still needed.

Those who submitted an application know that there is still another week or so when recommendations and test scores can arrive and be reviewed.  In fact, since we correspond rather a lot with applicants, there isn’t much that I can add about the process.  But I will say something about the time frame.  We turn these applications around quickly!  The spring semester starts on January 19 and people need to make plans.  And get visas.  And relocate, etc.  So we’re already reading the applications that are complete (by “we,” I don’t yet mean “me,” but I’ll read some this weekend), and the whole process will wrap up within a month.  At that point, we’ll get ready to welcome our newest Januarians.

The small batch of applications for January is just what we need to get started on the annual application review cycle.  I’m looking forward to learning about our soon-to-be students.

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The second of our returning student bloggers to report this semester is Aditi, who spent her summer in Rwanda, where her experience taught her some lessons that she hadn’t anticipated.

Aditi_Patel JPGThanks to the Leir Fellowship that supports Fletcher student internships, I was able to work in Rwanda over the past summer.  It was my first experience traveling to Africa, but having spent time in India, the U.S., and South America, I felt as though I was well-prepared for what the experience might throw my way.  In some ways, I was right: I wasn’t overwhelmed by the crowds, or paralyzed by the sight of poverty, or surprised at the presence of expensive restaurants and a thriving nightlife with international music playing at every club.  In several other ways, however, I found that the experience was new in ways I had not anticipated.

The organization I was working with, Manos de Madres Rwanda, works in partnership with a local clinic that has worked in Kigali for over a decade.  The patients are women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Several grew up orphaned, and most are desperately poor.  The clinic provides its patients with physical and psychological care, and Manos de Madres offered to partner with the clinic to provide the women with livelihoods and skills training.  The organization has a program manager, a marketing manager who I helped hire during my time there, and three young “Cooperative Agents” who are part-time staff and also patients of the clinic.  This team runs a number of different programs with various cooperatives of women: an organic market garden called Baho; a screen-printing business called Dutete; a jewelry-making cooperative called Ejo Hazaza; and a microloan program for young mothers.

My day-to-day work consisted of visiting each of the cooperatives and participating in their meetings, followed by team meetings with the Manos staff. Although I was originally hired to start work on Manos’ monitoring and evaluation of its programs, it quickly became clear that the need of the organization was improved general management. I had to be responsive to the needs of the organization, and although I wanted to test my newly-minted monitoring and evaluation skills, I realized that it would be a far more impactful contribution to help the team with its daily management and putting in place systems and processes. I spent a lot of my time conducting trainings with the team—on business plan creation, so they could work better with the cooperatives; on reporting; and on using Excel. I created a new reporting structure for the Manos team to use and trained them on how to fill out and submit reports.

KigaliLiving and working in Kigali was a mixed experience for me.  It was my first time living in a country where I was absolutely unable to communicate with most people around me, and before this summer, I definitely underestimated the impact this would have on me.  Being unable to communicate with the women we worked with was incredibly frustrating, as I always had to request translation or else be left out of the conversation.  It made me deeply uncomfortable, and it has made me question the effectiveness of working in a country for which I have no local language or context skills.  It will make me think twice about future career decisions, and tread carefully and think through my own assumptions before embarking on a career living or working in an environment where I do not speak the language.

Aside from the personal growth and thoughts about how I would like to shape my career, I had the opportunity to see a lot of the country.  I hiked up a volcano to see a crater lake at the top, and went on my first African safari at Akagera National Park.  The country was phenomenally beautiful, with the bus rides being more than enough of a treat to justify a disappointing destination, had there actually been one!

I was also very interested to see how Rwanda is changing its national image from a country scarred by genocide, to one that is increasingly a tourist and investment destination.  The process of building this new identity while remembering and memorializing the genocide is a tricky balance, and one that I am curious to learn more about.

Professionally and personally, this summer in Rwanda has helped me solidify how I want to build my life and career post Fletcher — it was a perfect way to tie together my first and second year at Fletcher.

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At the Admissions Office, we LVE our student interns.  While we all do our share of application updating, email answering, mail opening, etc., we would need to do ever so much more of it if our interns weren’t here to help.  Plus, they connect us to the wider student community, so that we’re not the last people at Fletcher to hear what’s going on!  But, as much as we appreciate out student staffers, they’re even more important to our applicants.  Most likely, the person answering the phone when you call, or your email when you write, is a current Fletcher student.  Thus, without further explanation, let’s have them introduce themselves, so you’ll know who is running the show in the Admissions back office.

AshleyAshley: Hello future Fletcherites!  I am a first-year MALD student, pursuing International Business Relations and a self-designed Field of Study.  Building on undergraduate degrees in both international affairs and photography, I am exploring the strategic use and impact of visual communication tools (i.e. photo and video) in the global context.  This has broad application across a variety of sectors and initiatives, all of which I happily have the opportunity to tap into here on campus.  For instance, I recently joined Fletcher’s oldest student-run foreign policy journal, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, and am also engaged with groups such as Tech@Fletcher and the International Business Club.

Prior to arriving in Medford/Somerville, I spent four and a half years in Washington, DC, with a non-profit organization focused on global leadership and U.S. public diplomacy.  I worked primarily with the external affairs team on public programming, fundraising, and communications.  I also had the opportunity to help develop strategic initiatives with the European Union, India, and Turkey.  Then and now, I love travel, film, and tennis.  I look forward to connecting with you and sharing the latest news from Fletcher!

AuyonAuyon: Hi!  I am a first-year MIB student concentrating on Strategic Management and International Consultancy as well as International Business and Economic Law.  I am from Dhaka, Bangladesh and grew up there before completing my undergraduate studies in economics at Macalester College — an institution also known for its international focus — in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I also lived in Manchester, UK for five years when I was a child.

After completing my bachelor’s in 2008, I moved back to Bangladesh where I started working at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector division of the World Bank Group, for nearly five years.  I worked in the Access to Finance department and my responsibilities involved managing private sector development projects in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Australia for clients that included commercial banks, non-banking financial institutions, microfinance institutions, and regulatory authorities.  This experience provided me with invaluable skills in budget analysis and management, project management, client relationship management, drafting fund-raising proposals with international donors and liaising with IFC’s global product experts.

Prior to joining Fletcher, I spent several months traveling in Malaysia, Singapore, and Europe and playing music in Bangladesh.  I also worked for a year at a research university where I conducted research on enterprise and societal development in Bangladesh.

Aside from classes at Fletcher, I enjoy spending time with my wife, cooking, playing soccer with the Fletcher Fútbol club and exploring the Boston area.

DavidDavid: Hi everyone!  I am a second-year MALD focusing on Democratization and Human Security.  This is my second year working in the Admissions Office.  I am particularly interested in transitional governments, former communist countries, and authoritarianism.  I am a first-generation American, born and raised in Wheaton, IL.  I attended DePauw University for my undergraduate studies and majored in political science and Spanish.  Prior to Fletcher, I taught English in the Czech Republic as part of my Fulbright Grant, organized service immersion trips to Latin America, and worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  I spent this past summer working in the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, and I hope to join the Foreign Service after Fletcher.

During my first year at Fletcher, I was a researcher on a joint Fletcher-ICRC study on conflict migration in the Sahel, volunteered with the Tufts Refugee Assistance program, and I am currently one of the co-presidents of the European Club.  Outside the classroom, I love hanging out with other Fletcher students, exploring Boston, and venturing out to find new restaurants and breweries in the area.  I look forward to hearing from you in the Admissions Office this year!

DristyDristy: Namaste!  I am a first-year MALD student from Kathmandu, Nepal.  I received an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the American West in New Mexico, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont with a major in psychology and double minor in economics and Spanish.  As a native of a developing country, I have always been very interested in understanding and tackling the challenges of development.  After my undergrad, I spent a few years working for various actors in international development in areas ranging from entrepreneurship, to local governance, social accountability, social protection, and capacity building.  Immediately before coming to Fletcher, I worked for AmeriCares, an emergency response and global health international organization, helping them set up in Nepal and supporting their efforts in response to the massive earthquakes that devastated the country in April.  At Fletcher, I am focusing on International Development, and Public and NGO Management.  I love dancing and plan on participating in as many cultural shows as possible in my time at Fletcher.

I am excited to be a part of this team at the Office of Admissions and look forward to answering any questions you may have, to help you navigate through the graduate school research and application process.

Monica: Hello there!  I am a second-year MALD student focusing on International Security Studies and International Negotiation/ Conflict Resolution, with a particular interest in European Affairs.  Originally from Ecuador, I was raised in Florida and attended Florida International University, where I majored in public relations and minored in international studies, a minor I completed abroad at the Tianjin University of Commerce in China.  Prior to my studies at Fletcher, I worked for U.S. Southern Command, a military regional combatant command, as a Public Private Coordinator in the Joint-9 Partnering Directorate.  I also spent a year in South Korea teaching English and tutoring university students in the Spanish language.

This past summer, I was in Washington, DC working for the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress, covering their defense and security portfolio.  Outside of the classroom, I enjoy being involved and staying active in the Fletcher community.  I am one of the co-presidents of the European Club and value the opportunity of playing an active role at the Office of Admissions — first as a volunteer student interviewer and now as an Admissions Intern.  I look forward to meeting you all soon and hopefully welcoming you to the Fletcher community!

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Just a quick note, especially for the applicants eyeing this Thursday’s deadline for January enrollment.  Today is a public holiday and the Admissions Office is closed.  We’ll be back tomorrow morning, when we’ll do our best to answer all your last-minute questions as quickly as we can!



DA-SC-92-09515My career has been unusual in that, though I’m employed by neither the military nor the Foreign Service, I have worked for two past NATO Supreme Allied Commanders and one former ambassador.  The second of the former NATO leaders is our current dean, James Stavridis, who made the community aware of the recent passing of his predecessor in both posts, Jack Galvin.  In an email, Dean Stavridis noted:

As The Fletcher School’s forward-looking and innovative leader from 1995-2000, Jack and his legacy are woven into the fabric of the school: he prompted Fletcher’s expanded focus on global business; he established a joint master’s degree in humanitarian assistance between Fletcher and the Friedman School of Nutrition; he oversaw the development of the school’s signature internet-mediated degree program for mid career professionals (GMAP); and he inspired the Institute for Human Security.

As our former Board of Overseers chair, Peter Ackerman, noted back in 2002 at a ceremony for the unveiling of the portrait of Dean Galvin that now hangs in the Ginn Library, “Jack was determined to make Fletcher a better place.  He restructured the school for a post-Cold War environment.  He put a new stamp on Fletcher and was up for any idea that was different, that would make Fletcher fly.”

While the Fletcher community mourns the passing of a great Dean, the rest of the world of course will remember General Galvin for his lifetime of service to the U.S. and its allies, capping a 44-year career in the Army with a 5-year term as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO.  As noted in the Washington Post, General Galvin was known widely as a “prototypical warrior-intellectual,” for his love of literature, commitment to academic scholarship, and mentorship to future leaders.

Many major publications, including The New York Times have run obituaries, and I will leave it to readers to learn more about his interesting career.  Instead I wanted to share a personal observation of his kindness.

Back in about 1997, well before I worked in the Admissions Office, a student working with me, Anthony, became very ill.  For a short but intensely worrisome time, his illness was a mystery.  When it was finally diagnosed — a severe case of encephalitis, contracted during his winter break in California — the information was not at all reassuring.  Fortunately, following an extended hospital stay, Anthony recovered and went on to graduate.

Where does Dean Galvin come into all this?  At the time, he was living in a Tufts-owned house with a small attached apartment.  Dean Galvin and his wife, Ginny, offered the apartment to Anthony’s father, who came to the area and stayed for many weeks until Anthony went from hospital, to rehabilitation facility, to the apartment, and finally back home.  I spent some time with Anthony’s dad, and he was incredibly grateful for the kindness and support that Dean Galvin and Ginny Galvin showed to him.  I remember thinking at the time that the extent of the dean’s support went beyond the requirements of his position, and reflected the type of care that a general might provide to the officers and soldiers under his command.

Jack Galvin was a very special individual and an interesting dean for The Fletcher School.  The School, in its current form, owes much to his leadership.

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Launching the Student Stories feature for 2015-16 is second-year MIB student, Alex, who is reporting on his summer internship in the Boston area.

Alex SFletcher is not the type of school where everyone hopes to spend the summer as a consultant or banker in New York.  Ask a dozen people here what they did for their summer internship, and I bet you will get a dozen completely different answers.  With people scattered across the world doing everything under the sun, it would be quite difficult for me to describe the average Fletcher internship.  Instead, I can at least provide you with one data point by telling you about my summer, spent in the most unlikely of places for a Fletcher student: Boston.

My internship was with a rapidly growing solar energy project development company in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, which I secured with the help of one of my professors.  I worked to build out their “Community Solar” offering, which is the hot new thing in the industry: instead of mounting panels on their roofs, anyone can subscribe to centralized solar installations, effectively opening up the market for the 80% of people who could not go solar previously.  As you may remember from earlier blog posts, I am interested in innovative business models and financing mechanisms for clean energy infrastructure, so this was right up my alley.  Furthermore, working on the development side provided a good experiential addition to my internship with the wind energy private equity firm last semester; now I know both the money side and the project side of the deal.

Actually getting to build out a new product offering, with all the requisite business processes, was a great opportunity as well.  In my previous role as a strategy consultant, I was generally looking at the bigger picture instead of tackling all the nitty-gritty pieces of building something new.  It was an eye-opening experience, which brought some concreteness to my thinking.

The size of the company was another aspect I enjoyed: at 45 employees, it was much smaller than Monitor Deloitte and much bigger than some of the start-ups I have worked with in the past.  At this size, a company has the expertise and basic processes in place, but does not yet have the silos that beset many larger organizations.  I felt empowered to reach across the organization, make decisions, and execute as I saw fit, which I greatly enjoyed.  Also, I was excited to be surrounded by experts in all aspects of building our energy sources of the future.

Internship mapSo, while I have to admit I was jealous at first of all my friends jetting off to cool and exotic places for their summers, I ended up being happy that I kept mine local.  One of the great perks was my commute, which included biking along charming Charles Street in Beacon Hill, through the verdant Public Gardens, and then down bustling Newbury Street in Back Bay.  I feel lucky that I was one of the few who got to stay in Boston, and appreciate the opportunities and beauty of the great city in which we live.

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One of my favorite aspects of overseeing the Fletcher Admissions Blog is working with students and alumni to share their stories with future students/alumni.  I’m happy to say that tomorrow’s post will be from one of our returning Student Stories writers, Alex.  This is the fourth year of the Student Stories feature and applicants tell me that reading about the student writers’ paths is especially helpful as they chart their own.

My instructions for the Student Stories writers are relatively loose.  They agree to write four posts each year, divided roughly into the two semesters (though some slipping into the winter or summer break is o.k.).  Whatever topics are interesting or important to them are fine with me, too.  I should note that the student writers are volunteers, and I hugely appreciate the time and effort they put into their writing.

I’m still working with the new student volunteers, but the three returning students, Ali, Alex, and Aditi have all agreed to keep writing this year.  Ali is an MIB student who applied to Fletcher through the Map Your Future pathway.  Alex is also an MIB student, and Aditi is a MALD student, originally from India.  Tomorrow, Alex will share details from his summer internship.

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Just a quick post as I finally settle down to catch up with email, etc., this morning.  The two-plus hours since I arrived today have flashed by.  At 8:30, the first of our 35 Visit Day attendees came by to sign in, and we’ve been setting them up for the day’s activities ever since.  Some will participate in an interview.  Others will head off to a class.  At 11:00, everyone will come together for an Information Session, and then for lunch.  Aside from the lunch, all of the Visit Day activities can be done on any day we offer an Information Session, but it works really well when everything comes together in a tidy package.  We’ll offer one more Visit Day this fall, on November 16.

On a related note, today is Day 6 of the interview program, and just about everything has been going well.  A few dropped connections during Skype interviews, but nothing that upset the interviewer or applicant too much.  At the risk of repeating myself, if you’re interested in having an interview as part of your application process, I encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.  (Remember that Fletcher interviews take place before your chosen application deadline.)  There is plenty of availability now, but the schedule will fill in soon and it may be hard to score an appointment on the day/time you want.  And consider a Friday visit!  For reasons unknown, our Fridays are filling in very slowly.  Fewer classes are offered on Friday than on other days of the week, but the classes that are offered are among the most popular at Fletcher, and you’re welcome to attend one.

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