Currently viewing the tag: "Class of 2008"
I had a surprisingly nice quick trip to Toronto. I arrived yesterday morning, took a long walk around, and figured out where the APSIA fair would be taking place (down the street, behind the construction site — so I was glad I bothered to look). The first visitors to the fair arrived as I was still setting up, well before the official start time, followed by three solid hours of talking. Nice to meet some eager 2015 graduates of University of Toronto, as well as professionals in the area!
I was joined at the Fletcher table by an alum, Farrukh Lalani, a 2008 graduate, and she shared her perspective with the visitors interested in the student and alumnus experience. As the fair wound down, and over tea after the fair ended, we had time to discuss her new start-up venture, Aria Gems, a non-profit that seeks to build a business, and a model that others can follow, in ethical gem mining in Afghanistan. This led to a long chat about the non-traditional paths taken by many of her 2008 classmates. Mining/gems/Afghanistan/start-ups are not concepts we usually weave together when we’re telling prospective students about typical Fletcher career paths, but the atypical path is, itself, somewhat typical.
Coincidentally, yesterday I heard from Farrukh’s classmate, Margherita Zuin, who was featured in a Foreign Policy career guide. In a sense, Margherita’s career path has been typical for a graduate of an international affairs professional school, though perhaps still atypical in its intensity.
So all in all, a good trip — productive participation in the APSIA fair, and a great opportunity to get to know an alum I hadn’t crossed paths with when she was a Fletcher student.
Tagged with: Class of 2008
Our next five-year update, and probably the last word from the Class of 2008, comes from Margherita Zuin, who was co-chair of the student Migration Group and conducted interviews for the Admissions Office during her time at Fletcher. (I can still picture her coming in and out of the office.) Here’s her update which, like the résumé of anyone working for the United Nations, is loaded with acronyms.
During my years in high school, migration from Africa started to become a common phenomenon in Italy. It generated a myriad of political and legal debates and cultural challenges, not only in my country, but also in my head. This is what initially triggered my interest in international law and pushed me, as a student, to volunteer for an NGO assisting migrants from North Africa.
After law school, my passion to see and understand more about the world led me to Ecuador to provide assistance to Colombian refugees and to fight violence against women in Quito for Amnesty International. I then interned with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a focus on Italy’s role within the United Nations and development cooperation in Asia and Latin America. As a paid trainee at the European Commission in Brussels, I focused on food security in African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries before traveling to Jordan for my first assignment with the United Nations. I joined UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women) in Amman, where I implemented programs to support the elections and constitution-making process in Iraq.
These experiences made me realize that I wanted to keep working in international affairs, but also that I wanted to further my understanding of the complex approaches and strategies needed to address them. I had heard of Fletcher from alumni and, after having an informal interview with Laurie Hurley, the School’s director of admissions, I realized that Fletcher was the perfect place for me. The combination of academic- and professional-oriented courses was exactly what I was looking for.
My classes and professors at Fletcher taught me skills that I have put into practice since graduation. My Fields of Study were Human Security, Humanitarian Studies, and Law and Development. I still refer back to the impressive professional experiences shared in class by Professors Sarkin and Aucoin. From Professor Church, I learned the importance of always asking the “So what?” question, and I continue to use the gender lens analysis taught in Professor Mazurana’s course. My summer internship conducting research on formal and informal justice systems in Central Somalia, as well as the fascinating discussions in Professor Johnstone’s “Peace Operations” class on the political, legal, technical, and logistical challenges to deploy and work in conflict and post-conflict situations, were fundamental to my career choice.
Since graduating in 2008, I have been working for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations. For 2.5 years, I served in UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur) as Associate Gender Officer working on the political process, gender justice, and capacity-building of national institutions. In 2011, I joined the Standing Police Capacity of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), a rapidly deployable team of experts based in Brindisi (Italy), tasked to start up new operations or assist existing ones. In my capacity as Legal Officer, I deployed to UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) to help with the establishment of the Mission’s Rule of Law and Security Institutions Support Office. My work focused on addressing prolonged, arbitrary detention, and ensuring coordination of the various United Nations and national actors of the justice chain.
Since May 2012, I have been based at United Nations Headquarters in New York, first as a Judicial Affairs Officer in the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service (CLJAS) of OROLSI, and then as a Political Affairs Officer in the Front Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions. The work at Headquarters has allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the political dynamics and decision-making processes in the rule of law area in particular, but also of the United Nations system as a whole. In the near future, I hope to serve again in the field.
I use the academic knowledge and professional skills acquired at Fletcher every single day. I can also see the strength of the Fletcher community, not only because so many Fletcher alumni work in the United Nations, but also because creating partnerships, being committed to make a contribution, and building a sense of community have been essential aspects of my life in peacekeeping, especially in my field assignments.
It has been a while since we visited with the Class of 2008 for a Five-Year Update. Today, let’s read about Devon Cone’s path through and beyond Fletcher.
I still remember my first day at Fletcher. Meeting new classmates and hearing about their lives, work experiences, and interests was thrilling. I had spent 25 years developing into the new student who showed up in Medford that day; a passionate, curious person who craved new information, new places, and new ideas. The thrilling part about meeting my fellow classmates on that first day, was that they were the same kind of people! We were all coming from many different backgrounds and yet had a commonality…that of being particularly inquisitive about the world and the people and places in it.
Prior to Fletcher, I studied American Studies and Sociology; however, it was not a course in either of my majors that became a starting point for my subsequent studies and then career. While studying for my undergraduate degree, I took a course titled, “The International Political Economy of Women.” This course, team-taught by two incredibly thoughtful women, opened my eyes to issues around the world that I was eager to learn about. Prior to taking the course, I had already lived in the Netherlands, France, and Romania, and had traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia. I had interacted with people who were living lives very different to that of my own and I was interested in working in a variety of locations, however, I did not know where to focus my interests professionally.
After finishing university and working briefly in Thailand and, then, Ghana on development projects, I flew from Accra to Boston to embark on two years of graduate school, during which time I could learn, reflect, research, and move forward in studies that I was passionate about, namely, human rights. At the time I began Fletcher, I was not exactly sure what kind of career I wanted to pursue, but I knew that I wanted to work on global human rights issues, especially as they relate to gender.
Fletcher was an amazing experience of learning and growth that I will never be able to replicate. I studied Human Security and International Organizations, focusing specifically on humanitarian studies and forced migration. These Fields of Study allowed me to study with talented and insightful professors who challenged me to think critically about conflict, about security as it relates to individuals rather than the State, and about how well intentioned interventions have the capacity to bring positive change but can also cause harm. The subject matter taught at Fletcher provided me with the knowledge I needed to be useful and creative in promoting the protection of individuals in situations of forced migration and vulnerability. Karen Jacobsen’s course on Research Methods in Humanitarian Settings and Cheyenne Church’s course Monitoring and Evaluation in Peacebuilding were particularly useful skills-based classes that have provided me with practical knowledge that I have consistently referred back to in my work. Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, with Dyan Mazurana and courses with Kim Wilson and Dan Maxwell also caused me to think deeply about the theories and challenges in the field of human security.
A unique and wonderful aspect of being at Fletcher was that I was also able to study and interact with people interested in similar work at other institutions in the area. I took courses at the Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government that relate directly to the work I do, responding to the needs of displaced people in conflict/post-conflict settings.
Since Fletcher, I first conducted foreign policy research at MIT and then moved to Kenya with the organization RefugePoint, founded by a fellow Fletcher alum. RefugePoint sent me to work for UNHCR in Dadaab refugee camp. Located on the border of Somalia, Dadaab is the largest refugee camp in the world and, as such, was a place where I learned how to put theory into practice. The problems faced by individuals in Dadaab are massive, diverse, and overwhelming. I focused on identifying refugees in Dadaab who were in need of immediate assistance and protection, and on working to persuade foreign governments to resettle some of these refugees. After Dadaab, I worked on RefugePoint’s programming for urban refugees in Nairobi, which was interesting and allowed me the flexibility to come up with new ideas.
In early 2011, as uprisings began to take place in North Africa and the Middle East, I was transferred to Cairo, Egypt, where I worked for UNHCR to provide protection for refugees living in Egypt who were affected by the insecurity following Mubarak’s ouster. I interviewed Somali, Ethiopian, Iraqi, Sudanese, and Eritrean refugees for resettlement, and then transitioned to working specifically with young refugees. I worked with young people under the age of 18 without any family (unaccompanied minors) to identify the challenges they face and come up with solutions. I left Cairo in the summer of 2013 and continued to work as a Child Protection Specialist, this time being sent to Uganda following renewed fighting in Eastern DRC.
Five years on from Fletcher, I am amazed by how little I knew when I began, but also how much I learned during my time in school, and how rich and rewarding my professional life has been since graduating. I have had the opportunity to work with such a variety of people and I understand so much more about how conflict affects human beings individually. My time at Fletcher helped me to develop the skills I have needed to do my job and to serve people in the best way I can.
Time to check in with another 2008 graduate. Please meet Darren Long who, like our newest students, was a “Januarian.”
The Fletcher School appeals to a certain kind of person and from the moment I discovered the school, I knew I was one of those people. Fletcher’s broad, globally-oriented and cross-functional course listing matched my interests perfectly, stretching from agricultural economics to international negotiation to diplomatic history. The independence allowed by the MALD program would allow me to combine foundational courses with insightful and cutting-edge topical subjects to pursue a truly unique course of study. And the backgrounds of Fletcher’s students and alumni was proof that it was a gathering place for like-minded individuals.
I joined Fletcher at the beginning of 2007 as “Januarian,” along with about 20 other students starting at mid-year. We were immediately swept up in class schedules, along with a range of other social events. My Fields of Study were Pacific Asia and Development Economics, with a particular focus on China, where I had lived and worked prior to Fletcher. I also found Fletcher’s courses in policy analysis, international business law, agricultural policy, and analytical frameworks to be especially useful.
Following my first semester, I moved back to China for the summer to study Mandarin and prepare for Fletcher’s language requirement. While there, I connected with Ecom Trading, one of the world’s oldest physical commodities firms, and was offered a position as a commodity market analyst in Shanghai following graduation. My knowledge of Chinese political economy — which greatly impacts global commodity markets — along with agriculture, economics, and finance, made for a unique set of competencies, developed in large part while at Fletcher, that directly helped me to land the position.
I was able to build preparation for my upcoming professional role into the rest of my coursework at Fletcher, making analysis of the Chinese cotton sector the focus of my thesis, and completing a one-semester exchange program at the China Europe International Business School in the Fall of 2008. The combination of work and study helped me both prepare better for my career and make use of all of Fletcher’s many resources.
Since graduating from Fletcher, I have worked for Ecom as a commodities trader in China, Australia, and the United States. On a given day I may work on a deal with a large Asian trade house or U.S. producer; buy and sell commodity derivatives; write a market report or policy memo; analyze futures prices or supply and demand information; examine a sustainability project; or prepare a case for international arbitration. And it was my experience at Fletcher that helped prepare me for all of these endeavors and more.
One more November visit with the Class of 2008. Today, let’s learn what Kallissa Apostolidis has been doing in her five years since graduating from Fletcher.
Having graduated with a Philosophy degree from Smith College (2004), I returned to Greece and worked at a think-tank, called the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), and at the Press Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then I went on to do a paid internship (stage) at the European Commission.
With this professional experience behind me, I entered Fletcher and focused on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Security Studies. All the courses were excellent and I vividly remember classes with Professors Babbitt, Drezner, Chigas, and Aucoin. During my last semester, I was naturally preoccupied with what to do after Fletcher and engaged in long discussions with fellow students and professors. These discussions and exchanges helped me narrow down the organizations and institutions I wanted to target in my job hunt, and led me toward Interpeace.
Interpeace is an international peacebuilding organization based out of Geneva, with 18 programmes throughout the world. It started out as part of the United Nations. In 2000, it became an independent organization maintaining a unique partnership with the UN, which allows it to use both identities and to implement programmes either as Interpeace or as the UN. I joined Interpeace’s team in Geneva in December 2008 with a UN contract as a Programme Assistant, supporting our local teams in Liberia, Cyprus, and Israel. In my position it was very interesting to see the strengths and weaknesses of both institutions: the UN and a much smaller, more flexible NGO. Having stayed in that position for about two years, I then became Programme Officer for the Mediterranean and Middle East programmes. Currently I am based out of my hometown, Athens, and travel more than 50% of my time to visit our programmes. A core value of Interpeace is to have local teams in each country lead the peacebuilding programmes, and my role as Programme Officer is to support the teams in the region on all issues: fundraising, donor relations, programmatic strategy, administrative support, financial management, and policy and learning.
When I first joined Interpeace, I was the only Fletcher graduate, but I am happy to report that we have added two additional alumni and our forces now number three!
I’ve let a month slip by since I introduced the first member of the Class of 2008 to be profiled. Continuing with the updates from this class who graduated just over five years ago, let me introduce Carmen Arce-Bowen. I can remember working with Carmen during her application process, so it’s amazing to me that it has already been five years since she was at Fletcher!
I have always been very interested in learning about other cultures, their traditions, their food, their history and their language. I come from a medium-sized town in Northern Mexico. Most of our exposure to other cultures is only to the U.S., because of our proximity to it.
I was part of the Rotary Club Youth Exchange program after I graduated from high school. I spent a year in Germany learning its culture and language. This experience definitely solidified my desire to live in another country and be part of a multicultural and transnational community. After my year in Germany, I returned to Guadalajara, Mexico to study law in a five-year undergraduate program. While studying there, I met my now husband … who happened to be from Massachusetts! We got engaged during my last year of law school and moved to Boston in the summer of 2005.
While in school in Mexico, I interned at the Economic/International agency of the state, at the National Immigration Institute, and at a local law firm. At that time I wanted to study law in the U.S. to become an immigration law attorney and work with the Latino community.
I applied to LL.M. programs and to Fletcher, hoping eventually to complete both programs. I learned about Fletcher from a good friend of my husband who had graduated just a few years before. I was admitted to two LL.M. programs, but not to Fletcher. I decided to attend one of the LL.M. programs and re-apply to Fletcher the following year. I wanted to study policy and development, and take a more macro-level approach to immigration and other economic and social development issues. Fletcher was my top and only choice for a policy graduate program.
I started the MALD program in the summer of 2006. My Fields of Study were Development Economics and Latin America. I interned at a local international development agency called Grassroots International for a summer and throughout one academic year.
My experience at Fletcher was an intense and very rewarding one. Classes were definitely challenging, with all sorts of assignments, mid-terms and presentations. But sometimes I just couldn’t believe that I had the opportunity to simply hang out and chat with my classmates (and professors) — all well-rounded, down-to-earth, smart people. We came from different paths in life, but we all had the same desire to learn and change the world.
During my second year, I became president of the Latin America club. We organized 10+ events with a budget of $500! One of the events included all the Latin American consuls in the Boston area. The consuls were grateful for this invitation and said that it was not very often they happened to be in the same room together.
Right after graduation, I worked for three years at a local non-profit organization doing economic and social development work. We organized revenue campaigns, and trained grassroots groups on the importance of civic engagement, on government transparency, and on tax revenues in the state. I did it all, from talking to the media, to training members of local unions, to writing blogs, to drafting grant proposals and grant reports. I was also very involved locally in three nonprofit boards and as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. Networking has definitely been a key part of my professional development in Boston.
Two years ago, I came to work in the office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as Director of Personnel and Administration. In the personnel office we oversee applications for justices of the peace, notaries public, and public administrators in the state, along with one-day marriage designations. We also oversee the internship program for our office and run background checks on all high level managerial hires in the state.
My experience at Fletcher was one of the most rewarding of my life. It shaped how I see the world, how I interact with my colleagues, and how I see life through the lens of global understanding. I can only hope that I can pass all this experience to my three-year-old daughter – who hopefully will become a Fletcherite, too!
When we last featured five-year updates, it was members of Fletcher’s Class of 2007 who described their paths since graduation. But another class graduated last May, and now we turn to the Class of 2008. Kicking off the new year for this feature is Adria Chamberlain who has taken on a pivotal role in bringing together members of her own graduating class, as well as other alumni in the Boston area.
We all want to change the world for the better, right? Leave that lasting mark; help people, organizations, and cultures redefine the concept of neighbor; dramatically improve the opportunities of those who may have extremely limited ones, right? Right. The question is, how are you going to do it, and what do you need to get you there? The answer: Fletcher. Fletcher produces a feast by taking what you’ve done, challenging your notions of what should be done, and blending it together with others who are similarly driven and knowledgeable, and who come to the table with myriad experiences. It’s a feast from which you can draw unlimited nourishment both during and after your time in the Hall of Flags.
For the years between college and Fletcher, I worked in private practice immigration law — mostly on asylum cases from around the world. I found my job extremely valuable and rewarding, but was getting frustrated doing work that didn’t affect the system creating the nightmare situations these asylees had had to live through. I chose an international affairs graduate school because I wanted to play a role in improving systems, rather than administering band-aids to consequences. Thankfully, that is exactly what I get to do now. I chose Fletcher because it was the very best at the factors that were important to me about graduate school. I knew it was an incomparable feast.
My concentrations at Fletcher were Human Security Studies and Leadership Studies (self-designed). Through research and in-depth interviews of leaders at the highest levels, my thesis examined leadership differences and similarities across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Their insights and my learnings continue to aid my leadership trajectory today. I also organized the annual ski trip, and now serve as the Class of 2008 Reunion Chair.
After grad school I became a Chief of Staff on a U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts, then went on to join New Profit Inc. where I work on a rotation of special initiatives on behalf of the founder and Executive team. New Profit is a nonprofit social innovation organization and venture philanthropy fund headquartered in Boston. We invest significant growth capital in a portfolio of social entrepreneurs, work to scale their impact and drive systemic change in areas such as education, workforce development, public health, community development, and poverty alleviation.
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