Currently viewing the tag: "Student Stories"
Today I’d like to introduce the first of our first-year Student Stories bloggers. Ali is in the MIB program, but her path to Fletcher was not the typical one: she is one of the very first students who have enrolled after applying via the Map Your Future pathway to admission.
Three years ago, I heard about The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy for the first time. I was an undergraduate political science major, interning with the U.S. Department of State — an institution loaded with Fletcher alumni — and applying to graduate school seemed like a good next step. I was disheartened when the Admissions Committee told me that I was a good candidate, but that I needed more professional experience. I excitedly, but begrudgingly, accepted a place in the school’s first group of students admitted through Map Your Future — a program designed for Fletcher-destined undergraduates who just need a bit more “something,” i.e. professional experience, international travel, language proficiency, etc. — and scheduled myself to begin in August 2014.
Halfway through my first semester at Fletcher now, I can’t imagine not having those two years of work experience at Fulbright Belgium, and life, under my belt. My classes this semester are Managerial Economics, Corporate Finance, Accounting, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Corporate Management of Environmental Issues — topics I would have never chosen before I managed a program budget and realized the difference that the private sector can make in public and non-profit initiatives. My friends include classmates who are two to six years older than me and are well-traveled veterans of big name organizations such as Target, Boren Fellowships, and Procter & Gamble. I try to think about what I could have added to conversations with these people two years ago, and it makes me happy the Admissions Committee forced me to wait.
During the next two years, I’ll be taking a mix of business, policy, and social-impact driven courses to learn the hard skills that will hopefully land me a job in a consulting firm or private company, where I can promote sustainability and social impact from the inside out, and bring people from business, government, and non-profits to the same table. This happens every day during lunchtime at Fletcher, so hopefully the goal isn’t too big of a stretch.
I got to practice these convening and networking skills at a recent exciting event — a Net Impact conference in Minneapolis, MN, where I met executives from top companies like Southwest Airlines, Brown-Forman, and Starbucks, who already consider their companies’ social impact. I’ve read cases about their companies’ business decisions in many of my classes already, and it was exciting to discuss the situations with them in person.
Career transitions between sectors are a common story at Fletcher, and I hope that Map Your Future students like me will soon be, too. I hope you enjoy reading my journey with these experiences over the next two years. Maybe I’ll meet some of you during your admissions interviews soon!
Student blogger, Liam, is a current member of the military. For his first blog of his second year in the MALD program, he describes Fletcher life for veterans and active duty officers — the perfect topic for today’s Veterans Day holiday.
Veterans at Fletcher, while always a portion of the student body (Dean Stavridis, after all, is both a Fletcher MALD/PhD and a retired Navy admiral), are a small community within the school that has nonetheless grown steadily in recent years. While the incoming class of 2013 was relatively light on active duty officers, it included many veterans, some remaining in the reserves and others completely transitioned from military service. The incoming class of 2014 had an even larger veteran (and active duty) contingent, and the presence of veterans — both U.S. and international — at Fletcher helps add to the diversity of an already incredible student body.
From real-world experience and operational background in both training and combat, to advanced leadership and organizational skills, to past experience traveling the world and working with many cultures, the contributions that veterans make at Fletcher are invaluable, especially when combined with all the other incredible members of the Fletcher student body.
When I first arrived at Fletcher, I personally felt that nothing I had done in the military was all that special; all of my peers in the Army had effectively the same experiences and I did not feel I was unique. Coming to Fletcher, I was amazed by how interested other students were in my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I was even more amazed to hear other students’ stories of their pre-Fletcher lives in various places and jobs around the world. I have been blown away by the breadth of conversations and class discussions that will naturally flow when you combine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in South Sudan, lawyers who worked for the UN, and medical doctors who worked in IDP camps.
Fletcher has a student veterans group, Fletcher Veterans. The group meets regularly for both social events and also community service projects. In recent years the group has gotten together for activities ranging from an annual trip to a polo match outside of Boston, to volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, to hosting student panels on the state of veterans in America. This year, in conjunction with other groups at school, the group is looking to expand its presence at Fletcher into the realm of leadership development. And Fletcher Vets also gets together from time to time for simple social gatherings to tell old war and sea stories over a few drinks.
For veterans or active duty members considering Fletcher, I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to focus on security studies; I would say the majority of veterans at Fletcher focus on other areas, including a very high concentration of MIB candidates. The openness and diversity of Fletcher’s curriculum make it easy to combine your experience with an amazing breath of academic subjects on a variety of topics. For those who are interested in security studies, the International Security Studies Program, chaired by Professor Shultz, is a great program and consistently brings in world-class speakers from around the world, as I described in a post last year. The ISSP fellows — senior military officers attending Fletcher on a one-year fellowship, in lieu of the Army War College or their services’ respective professional military education — add a great deal to both the classroom and student body. As senior field grade officers who have led operational units, they bring a wealth of knowledge to Fletcher and also serve as exceptional mentors for active duty officers and veterans alike.
Veterans contribute a great deal to the Fletcher community. If you are a veteran interested in Fletcher and have questions regarding VA benefits, academics, student life, or pretty much anything, please contact me (Liam Walsh) or the co-leaders of Fletcher Veterans, Pat Devane and Joel Tolbirt.
Diane and I first met when she visited Fletcher about two years ago, and I conducted her evaluative interview. Since her arrival at Fletcher in September 2013, representing the country of Australia, she and I have worked on several different projects together. Her first post for her second year describes the perspective she brings after having completed a year at Fletcher.
Throughout my summer abroad, during which I interned in Northern Ghana, traveled to South Africa, visited home (Australia) twice, and finally made it back to Boston, I had time to reflect on the whirlwind that was my first year at Fletcher. The academic year is extremely busy; long days are filled with classes, group assignments, individual study, talks by special guests, club meetings, and jobs. I decided that this year there were some lessons I could take from last year and implement into my schedule.
Knowing what to say “yes” and “no” to is the first big lesson. A student’s time at Fletcher is filled with amazing opportunities; however, the volume of these opportunities can be overwhelming. I have learned it’s important to have one or two areas on which to focus my attention outside of classes. For me, I enjoy being part of admissions activities, because they so heavily influenced my decision to attend Fletcher, and I have been active with the Admissions Office throughout the year. The other area I am focused on is my Research Assistant position with the Feinstein Center. This role provides an opportunity to build skills in an area in which I want to work upon graduation. Fletcher also has so many wonderful social events, that I enjoy attending, such as the amazing Los Fletcheros (Fletcher’s resident cover band), and the cultural nights. And I chose to take 4.5 classes this semester, so my weekly schedule is fairly full just attending classes and keeping up with assignments.
Because the schedule at Fletcher is so busy, this year I have committed to taking at least one day off a week and getting outside. Whether it is kayaking on the Charles River, visiting local towns, hiking, a quick trip to New York, or being a tourist in Boston, it’s important to take time to leave the library and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Fletcher, being located at Tufts University, also provides access to some excellent sports facilities; I personally enjoy going to the gym each morning, or playing squash with other students and staff from Fletcher. Many students run with the Marathon team, or play tennis on the courts outside Fletcher, swim at the pool, or take advantage of the great facilities some other way.
One of the biggest decisions I made this year was to be more proactive in asking for help. Asking for help at Fletcher is not difficult, whether it be booking a timeslot with the writing tutors, or seeing a professor during office hours. The professors at Fletcher are extremely welcoming, and are keen to help students grasp the content they teach, happily taking time outside of the assigned office hours to sit with students and go over key concepts or help them understand an assignment.
These are just some of the lessons I learned last year and have implemented into my second year at Fletcher. I am sure there will be many more lessons learned by the time graduation rolls around in May.
With apologies for not revving up earlier in the semester, I’m happy to say that the Admissions Blog’s student writers are back in action. We have three returning bloggers — Liam (MALD), Diane (MALD), and Mark (MIB). Three first-year students — the “A Team” of Ali (MIB), Aditi (MALD), and Alex (MIB) — will soon be introducing themselves.
I’ve been fortunate that students frequently offer to write a post for the blog (as Aditi and Miranda did last week), and I sometimes give a new home to something they’ve written for a different medium (as I did with Colin’s Fletcher Fútbol report). For the six bloggers who write over the continuum of the two years they spend at Fletcher, their posts should go beyond a single moment and leave readers with a sense of their evolution and breadth of interests over time.
Tomorrow, we’ll start by bringing back one of our returnees, Diane, who will talk about the perspective she brings to her second year.
Tagged with: Student Stories
When she was already in Ghana for her summer internship, Diane sent me this final blog post of 2013-2014. I held it, thinking that September would be optimal timing. Current students may want to know about Diane’s search for external scholarships, while applicants may want to know that such a thing is possible. New posts from continuing student bloggers Diane, Liam, and Mark should return soon, and I’ll be adding new voices from among the first-year students.
For prospective students applying to graduate programs, the question of how to pay for a master’s degree is often a huge part of the decision-making process.
While Fletcher was my number one choice in programs going into the application process, the scholarship aid I received from Fletcher also made my enrollment decision very easy. Nonetheless, Fletcher scholarships don’t generally cover the full cost of tuition, and certainly don’t include living costs, leaving me to figure out how to cover the rest.
Like many students who worked for a number of years prior to Fletcher, I had some savings, and I knew I would also need to take a loan. As I did my financial planning, I realized that my savings would be gone by the end of the first year, and I would have to try to find ways to minimize the amount of debt I would be taking on. This led me to the search for external scholarships.
As I reviewed scholarship opportunities, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being an international student from a developed country, but a country that itself offers very few scholarships for international study. This left me searching for scholarships that I often couldn’t apply for. I wasn’t very successful with my applications before starting at Fletcher, and I planned to submit more applications for my second year of study.
Once I was at Fletcher, I found my greatest resource to be my fellow students. I took the opportunity to chat with other international students about scholarships they knew of, and shared information. I also utilized the resources around me — in particular, I took advantage of the writing tutor program, to get feedback on my application essays before I sent them in.
This turned out to be a positive process! I applied for two external scholarships for my second year, and was successful in receiving one of them. Two of my Fletcher friends who had shared with me the process of applying for external scholarships were also successful. This highlights one of my favorite things about Fletcher: the spirit of collaboration, and how this often leads to shared success.
At the end of the spring semester, Liam, one of our student bloggers, offered an end-of-year post. I eagerly grabbed it, but I’ve held it until now because it reflects both Liam’s first year at Fletcher and also his suggestions for incoming students. I’ll just note that Liam wrote his post when the Red Sox season was looking a little brighter than it is now!
Sitting here, finally having some time to reflect on the blur that is the spring semester, I’m at a loss to describe what an incredible experience my first year at Fletcher has been. A few words come to mind — demanding, challenging, (extremely) busy — but what it really boils down to is one of the most remarkable and rewarding years I’ve had. From making new friends, to learning an incredible amount about the world in which we live, to taking the time to really comprehend my life’s journey to this point, this year at Fletcher was incredible. Taking all that into consideration, I thought about the experiences I’m glad I’ve had both in and out of school, and I wanted to share a few “musts” for students at Fletcher.
1. Go to Fletcher events. From culture nights, to the Blakeley Halloween party, to The Los Fletcheros concerts, to simple gatherings of friends on a Friday, some of the best times to be had at Fletcher are outside the classroom. Taking the time to relax and get to know my classmates has been so incredibly rewarding. Time goes by pretty fast here and it will be over before you know it, so enjoy it while you can.
2. Go to the Boston Marathon. I was blessed with the opportunity to run this year through the Tufts Marathon Team, but if running for four(-ish) hours is not your cup of tea, experiencing the event is still an absolute must. Over a million fans lining the street for over 26 miles, coming together in support of the city and the runners, was just an indescribable thing to see. The Boston Marathon is, in my eyes, the most egalitarian sporting event in the world and it is not to be missed.
3. Go watch the Red Sox. I might be a bit biased as a life-long Sox fan, but anyone who spends time in Boston should experience Fenway Park. Especially after the Sox won the 2013 World Series, taking in an afternoon or evening at “America’s Favorite Ballpark” is a great distraction from school, and singing “Sweet Caroline” with 36,000 friends is pretty great, too.
4. Get to know Boston. Boston is so full of history and culture — it’s critical to get out and see it. Running along the Esplanade on the Charles River, exploring the Freedom Trail, relaxing at Boston Common, going to concerts — there is so much to do year-round in the city, so putting down the books and getting out is something you just have to do.
5. Get out of Boston. New England offers a ton of things to do. Whale watching off Cape Cod, skiing in Maine, hiking in New Hampshire, seeing the foliage in the fall, these are just a few of the awesome things this area of the country offers. Taking a backpacking trip out in the Berkshires during spring break was probably the most relaxing thing I’ve done in the past year, and it was vital to helping me reset to finish the semester strong.
In summary, it’s been an incredible year — one I wouldn’t trade for the world — and I’m looking forward to a 2014-15 academic year that is just as incredible and memorable.
The reason why the Fletcher staff is lonely all summer long is that our students are so successful in finding internships that meet their career objectives, with the result that they’re generally out of town. Diane, our student blogger, tells us about her internship search, and shares a couple of photos from her summer post.
At Fletcher, the summer between the first and second years of the MALD or MIB program is open for students to use as they wish. While internships are not required, students are encouraged to pursue one, and most do. Others may prefer to use the time to develop their language skills, research or prepare their Capstone Project, or travel.
Coming into Fletcher I knew the biggest gap on my résumé was my lack of field experience. Therefore my goal for the summer revolved around going to a developing country to work. I was hoping to find a research project that fit at least one of my interests: food security, mobile technology, or impact evaluations.
In January I began my search, reaching out to alumni at the DC Career Trip, speaking with second years about their experiences, and doing a lot of internet research. My best resource became my professors, who were able to put me in touch with some of their contacts. I sent a lot of emails, and got a few great leads; however, as the months went on, I still didn’t have an offer.
One organization that interested me and that I had identified early on was Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). Friends at Fletcher who had either previously worked or interned with IPA in the past informed me that the organization advertises internships quite late, so I kept an eye on the website, and applied while still continuing my search through my networks.
Right before exams I had a flurry of interviews for different opportunities, and on the day of my last exams, I received an offer to spend my summer in Tamale, Ghana with IPA. As I had already planned to head home in a week, I packed my stuff the next day and flew to Australia where, in amongst catching up with family and friends, I organized my visa, booked flights, got immunizations and anti-malarial tablets, searched for a mosquito net, packed for some very warm weather, and got on a plane (or four planes, to be exact).
IPA designs and evaluates potential solutions to poverty using randomized evaluations and is based out of Yale University with offices across the world. I am working on a project that involves offering rainfall insurance to farmers and I will be investigating whether this insurance can be made available through other organizations once the project is complete. I am sure it is going to be a great summer, and look forward to returning to Fletcher in the fall to apply what I have learnt.
After two lovely years of working with Roxanne, an amazing writer, I’m sad that her student blogger role is coming to an end. Though I’m hopeful to include her thoughts in the Admissions Blog in the future, the focus will shift to her post-Fletcher activities. Today, Roxanne shares her reflections on two years at Fletcher.
I remember reading the Admissions Blog from across the world and wanting to experience the buzz in Fletcher’s Hall of Flags that Jessica so frequently described. It, therefore, feels surreal to sit at my desk at home — the same desk where I have typed so many words and formatted so many footnotes — to write my closing reflections on this chapter of my Fletcher education. On May 18, I marched in Fletcher’s Commencement ceremonies and was once again moved by the love and care that run so deep in this community. When I look back on two years at Fletcher, I will, indeed, remember compassion, kindness, and care — for the world and for each other. As I had promised Jessica, I would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the other major themes and lessons that have punctuated my time at Fletcher.
- Prepare to be humbled by your peers. Professors, university leaders, staff, and guest speakers are all incredibly inspiring and will give you much to reflect on, but prepare for an immense amount of your learning to come from your peers. Some of my fondest memories of learning and community alike at Fletcher have taken place in the company of what a friend has affectionately dubbed “the Ladies who Law.” Choose your study groups well — those are the individuals who will help you make sense of econometrics or piece together the complex concepts of international law, and who will be entrusted with much of your collective learning. Know that there will be times when you understand concepts less than your peers, and times when you will have to shoulder more of the work or be better prepared. Treat your group work seriously and your peers with respect, and you will find yourself referencing their thoughts and insights just as much as you do those of your professors.
- Advocate for what you care about. I have always been drawn to the intersection of identities: conflict and humanitarian practitioner, scholar and activist. Inhabiting the intersections can be challenging, and clarifying my role in conflict-affected settings requires demarcating how these different identities interact. However, as a student, I was not prepared to cast any of the identities aside. I came to Fletcher to study and learn, but when I noticed that there was an opportunity to think more creatively as an institution about inclusive security, diversity, and analysis of gender and power, I leaped at the chance to facilitate these conversations. Looking back, I cherish the formation, advocacy, and momentum of the Gender Initiative at Fletcher and cannot imagine my time here without channeling my energy towards it. Advocating for what I (and many others!) cared about was not required for my courses. It was not an extra-curricular activity, per se. At the same time, it felt essential to me and it aligned my personal values, professional experience, and sense of what I wanted to give to this community. When you see opportunities to reflect on Fletcher as an institution, and to do so collaboratively and constructively, don’t shy away from them.
- Say yes. In an earlier post with advice to incoming students, I had suggested that you think about what you hope to accomplish at Fletcher prior to arriving. In this post, I suggest carving out some room for surprise. Try a class that is outside your field of expertise — just because it’s interesting, or because you want to learn from that particular professor, or just because you’re curious. Attend a talk that you don’t think is for you. Sign up to learn to dance salsa for the Culture Nights — even if you’ve never danced before. Some of the best learning takes place when you say yes and open yourself up to vulnerability, surprise, and the opportunity to be a novice again.
I am not quite ready to leave Fletcher — but perhaps that is a testament to the community itself: Fletcher inspires in all of us a constant desire to learn, challenge ourselves, and strive — and, at the same time, it sparks such an investment in our shared bonds that we are reluctant to leave the place and its people behind. Graduation has, however, catapulted us into the world and I am looking forward to watching these relationships evolve and reconfigure and to being part of our continued, shared learning. I promise to come visit on the Admissions Blog as an alumna from time to time — until then, thank you for reading, and have a wonderful summer!
With exams in their rear-view mirrors, our student bloggers (even those about to graduate) are finding a little time to write. Today, Roxanne thinks back two years to the summer before she enrolled at Fletcher.
I am typing this blog post in the midst of celebrations and errands. In yards and fields around campus, faculty, staff, and classmates alike are celebrating our impending graduation and the memories we have made in our time at Fletcher. In the meantime, books find their way back to the library, a cap and gown are awaiting my pick-up at the campus bookstore, and stacks of paperwork require review. As I am almost across the finish line of my time as a Fletcher graduate student, I wanted to look back and share some advice with incoming students.
Rest and reflect: Spend the summer before Fletcher relaxing and asking yourself questions about how you wish to spend your graduate school years. You do not need to reach precise answers — in fact, these answers will change when you arrive on campus, and multiple times after that, too. Rather, I encourage asking yourself what you seek to accomplish at Fletcher. Are you trying to build particular technical skills? If so, what are these skills and to what end are you hoping to hone them? Are you hoping to develop a close relationship with particular professors who could be your mentors? Are you interested in conducting original research? Do you hope to write publishable work? Again — you do not need the answers immediately, but asking these questions early (and often) will ensure that you approach your time at Fletcher with a consciousness that helps shape your path here. And rest. Rest rest rest rest rest. You will need it.
Read for pleasure: I have loved most everything I have read at Fletcher, but I have also missed selecting my own leisure reading and having the time to do it. Make a pleasure reading list for the summer before starting at Fletcher and carve out the time to dive into it. Keep adding to the list while at Fletcher, as your professors and classmates will have great recommendations. You will soon graduate and “read for fun” will be at the top of your wish list again!
Browse with an open mind: I have received a few emails from prospective students asking questions like, “Should I take this class or that in my third semester?” While planning ahead is always a good idea, it may be more useful to browse without trying to make concrete plans for all four semesters here. By that, I mean that you should go through the Fletcher website and learn about the different offerings on campus. What classes are available? How do students spend their time? What are the research centers and what do they do? Which faculty bios resonate most with your interests and why? What are the various publications? Knowing about your options will broaden your view of Fletcher, and may be more useful than trying to create a plan before even arriving. Soliciting second-year students’ advice once you arrive is a great way to vet prospective classes, and everyone is accessible and eager to answer your questions!
Spend time with friends and family: Fletcher can be all-consuming in the best of ways, particularly in the first few weeks here. As such, it may be good to use the time before Fletcher to reconnect with your friends and family, discuss your graduate school plans, and also reflect on the experience you are wrapping up. How do you feel about leaving your current job or endeavor? What have been the highlights of the past couple of years? Transitions can be a whirlwind, and making time to process this one, especially with your loved ones, will allow you to invest in your new community with a clearer head and more energy.
Take care of outstanding responsibilities: Similarly, if at all possible, leave some time between your arrival in the Boston area and the start of Orientation. This will allow you to settle into your new place, get your bearings in the neighborhood, and develop a bit of a routine. That is also a good time to buy anything you may need for the semester (check out the Tufts-specific discounts that are part of the summer mailings you will receive), and to take care of errands before the studying kicks in. Doctors’ appointments, finishing up your previous job, external scholarship applications — all of these are easier to take care of before school begins!
Brush up on skills — but do not stress: Some of you will need to brush up on quantitative skills or your knowledge of economics or a language. If you have the energy and interest, it is not a bad idea to do that over the summer, particularly if you wish to sit for one of the qualifying exams in the fall. Think of which gaps you may wish or need to fill and be creative about how to do so before you arrive. However, do not let this ruin your summer or be a cause of stress — there are quite a few opportunities to take these tests. It’s just easiest to take them early — particularly with languages, if you have been keeping up with language practice — which is why Fletcher advises you to take the tests as soon as possible after you arrive.
Cast the “shoulds” aside: There are infinite ways to prepare for a new experience and lots of lists you could browse that would tell you a myriad of things you should do before graduate school. Ultimately, though, you know what you need more than anyone — and there are aspects of the Fletcher experience that will catch you by surprise or for which you couldn’t prepare even if you wanted to. This is part of the learning and the fulfillment here, so spend the summer in all the ways that resonate with you, take the advice that is useful for you, cast aside the rest, and arrive at Fletcher with an open mind for learning and an open heart for the new community of which you will soon be a part!
We’re down to the last few posts from Roxanne, Mirza, and Scott, our graduating bloggers. For this post, I asked Mirza to create what I like to call an annotated curriculum, in which he would describe his path through Fletcher and reflect on how everything weaves together. Like most Fletcher students, he’s honest about his non-linear path, as we can see by comparing his thoughts just before graduation to those in his first semester or at the start of his second semester.
Mirza Ramic (MALD, 2014)
Business Associate positions at various startups
Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
Communications and information policy and regulation, and the question of global governance
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Hoping to help international organizations, non-profits, and private sector firms (or anyone, really) formulate effective and creative digital communications and online branding strategies
- Processes of International Negotiation
- International Communication
- Internal Conflicts and War
My Fletcher academic path might be a bit more on the “strange” side, but considering the rich diversity of Fletcher student backgrounds and interests, perhaps it’s not so left field. I came to Fletcher pretty determined to be a “Business MALD,” with business and economics courses lined up in my carefully planned academic spreadsheet. After a couple of days at Fletcher, I changed my strategy and instead decided to try a little bit of everything: conflict resolution, security studies, statistics/economics, and communications. I also wanted to get some of the breadth requirements out of the way early, and two courses (Negotiation and Econometrics) did precisely that. I placed out of the economics exam offered at the beginning of the semester, so I was able to take Econometrics and skip the introductory-level economics course.
- Analytic Frameworks for International Public Policy Decisions
- Entrepreneurial Marketing: Building a Winning Business Plan
- Political Economy After the Crisis (Harvard Law School)
- Values, Interests, and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy (Harvard Kennedy School)
At the start of the spring semester, I was confused. I had no idea which direction I wanted to go in, and was considering returning to my original plan of a business-oriented MALD degree. I knew I definitely wanted to venture outside of Fletcher, so I took two courses at Harvard. One was excellent, another not so excellent, but both were valuable in different regards. I also took a business course at Fletcher, and enrolled in Analytic Frameworks since my thesis advisor, Professor Carolyn Gideon, taught it and her International Communication class in the fall semester was by far my favorite course thus far. Looking back, I should have fulfilled some more requirements during this semester, as I finished my first year without having completed a single Field of Study and without having met all my breadth requirements. Still, I don’t think this is unusual for Fletcher students as some of us tend to be all over the place. So if you’re in a similar situation, no need for panic whatsoever.
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Boston, MA
The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy Summer Fellow
Toward the end of my first semester, I began developing an interest in education, learning, and in particular, higher education reform. This seemed to be a natural extension of my interest in communication technologies and technological innovation, and especially after observing how learning could be enhanced in university classrooms, I became quite passionate about the ways in which technology could transform education. As a result, I applied for the Rappaport Fellowship for Public Policy offered through the Harvard Kennedy School, and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 14 Rappaport fellows. This allowed me to pick the state agency I would want to be involved with, and the Department of Higher Education was an obvious choice. There, I spent 10 weeks working with public institutions on various forward-looking initiatives advancing public higher education in Massachusetts, focusing on technology-based projects in particular. It was a great experience for many reasons, and helped me tailor my professional interests and academic direction.
- Starting New Ventures
- International Organizations
- Social Networks in Organizations (1/2 credit)
- Independent Study – Thesis (1/2 credit)
- Transforming Education through Emerging Technologies (Harvard Graduate School of Education)
I came into this semester quite focused. I took a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to advance my knowledge of the educational technology field, after spending an entire summer learning as much about the topic as I possibly could. This was a great decision. I met some great people, forged new relationships, and significantly extended my network. Moreover, my class project would turn into paid work the following semester, and may extend beyond this semester. I enrolled in International Organizations because I had to fulfill my last breadth requirement. I was not too happy about this, as I had been avoiding ILO (International Legal Order) courses since the beginning of my Fletcher career. I was a bit of a curmudgeon in the first week of class, and did not know what to expect from a visiting professor. Well, I would discover that I was 100% wrong on all accounts, as this turned out to be a highly intellectually stimulating class with a top-notch professor who I just absolutely loved. In fact, after swearing to avoid ILO, I decided to enroll in International Criminal Justice in my final semester with the same professor, John Cerone, and even decided to make International Organizations one of my Fields of Study. I think most Fletcher students would agree that a great professor can make all the difference in the world. For me, it made me appreciate and pursue a field I previously felt no interest in. Yes, this can happen in your second year, and it is absolutely thrilling. At the same time, I continued taking business courses, now focusing more specifically on entrepreneurship, new ventures, and innovation, with the idea that I might eventually go into the world of educational technology startups.
- Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
- International Criminal Justice
- U.S. Public Diplomacy
- The Shapes of Utopia (Harvard Graduate School of Design)
My last semester has featured a combination of requirements and electives. Another business course to solidify my understanding of innovation and new ventures; a course on U.S. public diplomacy to expand my familiarity with communication in the public sector; the aforementioned International Criminal Justice course to pursue my newly discovered interest in international law; and, well, yes, a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. This class was recommended to me by a classmate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I decided to give it a shot. It’s been an amazing course — highly theoretical and philosophical — and precisely what I wanted from my last semester of graduate school. This really affirms my belief that almost every field has some relevance to international relations: the Shapes of Utopia course has been as much about economics, politics, and sociology as it has been about architecture. I would indeed recommend venturing out and taking advantage of all the academic and learning resources and opportunities that Boston has to offer – even if it seems like you’re not exactly following your chosen academic trajectory.
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