Community intros, the less typical programs

Time’s ticking down!  Only two more days (today and Monday) of classes this semester.  Let’s meet more of the students whom the Student Council profiled recently.  Note that all of these students are in programs less represented in the student community.  As I think blog readers will know, the MA and LLM are one-year Fletcher programs.  The MAHA is a one-year program jointly offered by Fletcher and the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.  The MATA is our new program offered jointly with the College of Europe.  And the PhD in Economics and Public Policy is offered jointly with, and administered by, the economics department in the Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Rick Murray (MA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am in the one-year MA program and focusing on security and strategy.  Having only two semesters here at Fletcher is really tough because there are too many great courses to choose from and whittling them down to just eight is a challenge!

What did you do before Fletcher?
I have been a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy for a little more than 11 years and will return to flying out at sea after graduation this May.

Where are you from?
As I know is the case with many Fletcher students, this question is complicated.  I am originally from Annapolis, Maryland but only lived there until age 10.  I spent the rest of my childhood in France (3.5 years), Switzerland (two years), Texas (one year), and finally Atlanta, Georgia for my final two years of high school.  People often assume one of my parents was in the military, but actually it was my father’s work in the mobile telecom industry throughout the 1990s that had us relocating so often.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
My favorite place is at the top of any ski resort (doesn’t matter where, so long as there is snow!).  A unique place I’ve been to was Tarifa, Spain with my wife a few years ago.  It’s a small town on the southernmost tip of Spain (just west of Gibraltar) and known for its fantastic wind surfing and hippie vibe that make it a pretty cool little spot in Andalucía.

Who are your favorite writers?
Hemingway and Steinbeck, but it’s been a while since I picked up any of their works.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandparents, all of whom are still alive and in their 90s now.  Each of them has had a big impact on who I am.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Becoming a Naval Aviator.  It was my goal ever since I was a very young child.

Which living person do you most admire?
My wife, Rachel.  I’ve thrown her a lot of curveballs in the 7.5 years we’ve been married, particularly the amount of time I’ve been absent and the frequency with which we’ve relocated.  Despite the challenges of being a military spouse, she’s been able to earn her graduate degree and professional license in clinical social work (a five-year process), build herself a successful and very diverse career, all while becoming a fantastic mother.  Her determination and commitment are absolutely incredible.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Juggling Fletcher’s workload with my two-year-old son running around has been tough.  But it offers me the opportunity to mix up my reading list with some different literature like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and other child favorites.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
I love the classroom discussion.  I haven’t been disappointed in any class I’ve taken.  The event programming has been amazing as well; the guest speakers are one of the best parts of the experience here.

Laura Schiemichen (MATA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am a first-year in the Transatlantic Affairs (MATA) Program.  Next year I’ll be at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, riding along canals on bikes and learning all about the EU.  Boston has a special place in my heart, though 😊

What did you do before Fletcher?
I spent three years in Washington, DC, first working on anti-trust cases in economic consulting and then for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  While I enjoyed the data work in my first job, consulting wasn’t for me.  I was much happier in the Monitoring and Evaluation department at MCC, where I worked on projects in Jordan, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Benin.

Where are you from?
I was born in Berlin, Germany and my family is now in Hamburg, but I moved every two years growing up.  I think of home as people, rather than a place.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
I visited my best friend’s grandmother on her cattle ranch in Argentina some years ago and rode horses everyday.  It was a good excuse to get a cowboy hat.

Who are your favorite writers?
Cheryl Strayed/Dear Sugar.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My mom.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Performing at the Lyceum Theater (home of the Lion King musical) in London.  I joined a hip-hop dance team as a way to goof around and have fun, but the experience became so much more than that.  We practiced six days a week, became family, and worked towards our goal together.  We also goofed around…a little.

Which living person do you most admire?
Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton (Go Wellesley!)

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time.  How to use it well.  How to get more of it.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
No grand moment here, just the everyday moments when I’m studying with a friend in the Hall of Flags, sharing snacks and coffee.

Girija Bahety (PhD program in Economics and Public Policy)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I am pursuing a PhD in Economics and Public Policy.  It’s a new joint PhD program between the Economics Department and Fletcher and I am one of the first students in the program, which aims to bring economics into answering policy-relevant research questions.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked as a consultant/development economist for an international development consultancy firm called Oxford Policy Management in India and the UK for six years.

Where are you from?
New Delhi, India.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Leh and Ladakh Valley, India.

Who are your favorite writers?
Arundhati Roy, William Dalrymple, Haruki Murakami, Julian Barnes.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
I have been inspired by many women and men in life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My independence.

Which living person do you most admire?
My parents.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Being a part of a new program that no one had heard of before and building relationships at Fletcher.

Ana María Pérez (LLM program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m doing the LLM.  It’s a one-year program for lawyers who want to specialize in international law.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I was Training Manager at the Latin-American and the Caribbean office of  J-PAL, the MIT Poverty Action Lab.  There I worked with different governments to evaluate and improve their social programs and public policies.  I was also volunteering with Amnesty International Chile, working especially with Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

Where are you from?
I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  But I must say that 1/3 of me is Chilean, given that I lived there for more than eight years.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Palestine.  I went there one year ago and it was a life changing experience.

Who are your favorite writers?
I love Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My grandfather.  A Spanish man who crossed the Atlantic by ship when was a teenager, escaping from a civil war and looking for a better life.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally, creating new things from scratch, such as a new national institution in Chile or the first Diploma in Impact Evaluation for J-PAL.  Personally, my enormous adaptation skills in life.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Time management.  I’m usually too optimistic planning how much time things are going to take me.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
Many!  I have loved being at Fletcher since the first week, when you start meeting all the great people who are coming to this school.

Ahmad Shakeb (MAHA program)

What are you studying at Fletcher?
I’m in the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance program.

What did you do before Fletcher?
I worked for ten years with different humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan.  My last post was at UNOCHA, as a program officer, managing the Common Humanitarian Fund.

Where are you from?
Afghanistan.

What is your favorite, most unique place you have ever been or traveled to?
Monterey, one of the most beautiful places in the U.S state of California.  I visited this place as soon as my winter break started.  It was special to me because one of my best friends (who is no longer in this world) had lived and studied there.  It reminded me of all the good stories and memories he had shared with me.  On top of that, I visited his fiancée, too, who goes to the same school where he had studied.

Who are your favorite writers?
Steve Coll and Husain Haqqani.

Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
My late best friend, Naqib Ahmad Khpulwak. Despite all the hardship he had in his life, he achieved so much, ultimately becoming a professor at the American University of Afghanistan and the Rule of Law Manager at USIP-Kabul before the age of 31.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Working for the United Nations and getting into Tufts University.

Which living person do you most admire?
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the current President of Afghanistan.  With few resources, he has managed to do so much for our country.  Wherever he goes, he put peace and development at the top of his agenda.

What has been a challenge you have faced during your career or time at Fletcher?
Losing my best friend in the complex attack on the American University of Afghanistan.  When I learned about the attack, I promptly arrived in the area, but police had cordoned it off and didn’t let me go inside to help my friend.  I spent the whole night on the street outside of the university compound.  It took the police the whole night to rescue students and faculty.

What has been your favorite moment at Fletcher so far?
After my arrival in Boston, I was so homesick and was looking for another Afghan.  My most favorite moment was when I first met three other Afghan students all at once at the Hall of Flags.

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