Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Earlier in the fall we caught up with Adnan, McKenzie, and Tatsuo, our three returning writers in the Student Stories feature.  Today I’m excited to introduce you to three new writers, Adi, Mariya, and Pulkit.  Adi joined the MIB program this fall, while Mariya and Pulkit are both first-year MALD students.  Mariya is a Pickering Fellow and Pulkit has a technical background — categories that represent a small but significant portion of each year’s incoming students.  My hope is that applicants will see a little of themselves in the writers and that the writers will open a window for readers to view Fletcher student life.

We’ll kick off the new writers’ contributions tomorrow with Adi’s story of his path from working in Indonesia to joining the MIB program.  I hope you’ll enjoy learning about these three new students.

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It would be much harder and so much less pleasant to do our work if not for the help of our Graduate Assistants (GAs) — Fletcher students who work about ten hours per week in our office.  In the old days (about three years ago) our office still dealt with a lot of paper — recommendations, transcripts, test scores all arrived by mail.  These days, nearly everything is done through our Slate application and the GAs can offer us much more than simply cutting open envelopes.  Today I want to introduce the four GAs working with us this year.  You might meet them if you visit, or chat with them if you call.  And now you’ll know that there’s a real person with the name signed on your email.

But first, the quickest of digressions.  Today is our Early Notification deadline.  I will save the GAs some work if I tell you that submitting an application on November 15 means you should zap it through by 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5).  Any later will no longer be November 15.  And now, with no further ado, let’s meet the GAs.

Ashley:
AshleyHello future Fletcherites!  I am a second-year MALD student, pursuing the International Business Relations and International Communications Fields of Study.  Building on undergraduate degrees in both international affairs and photography, I am particularly interested in the impact of visual communication tools (i.e. photo and video) in the global context — especially in media and publishing.  I look forward to pursuing a career in these industries when I graduate, and was fortunate to spend last summer interning with Scholastic Publishing on project management, photo editing, and business analysis.

At Fletcher, I’m regularly involved with The Murrow Center for a Digital World, serve as Managing Web Editor for 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 the Boston area, I spent four and a half years in Washington, DC, with a non-profit organization focused on global leadership development 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, China, and Turkey.  Then and now, I love travel, film, and tennis.  I look forward to connecting with you and answering your questions about Fletcher!

Brooklyn:
BrooklynHi everyone!  I am a first-year MIB student focusing on Strategic Management and International Consultancy, as well as Global Political Economy.  Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, I moved to Washington, DC to attend American University, where I studied international relations, focusing on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and Spanish language.

After completing my bachelor’s degree in 2012, I started working at Chemonics International as a project management team member.  Six-months into my time there, I moved from the Latin America Regional Business Unit (RBU) to the Asia RBU, where I had the opportunity to learn about the culture and complexities of a region of the world that was new to me.  While working in the Asia region, I was involved in projects spanning from Pakistan to the Pacific Islands that covered topics such as governance, climate change adaptation, combating human-trafficking, and economic growth.  It was my work with the Vietnam Governance for Inclusive Growth project that sparked my interest in the public sector and led me to Fletcher!  In my personal time I love doing Pilates and spin classes, trying new restaurants, and going to the movies.  I look forward to hearing from you in the Admissions Office this year!

Cindy:
CindyHello everyone!  I am a first-year MALD student, concentrating my studies in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and International Organizations, and pursuing a certificate in Diplomatic Studies.  I grew up in Spring Hill, Florida and later received my BA in political science, anthropology and a minor in Russian at the University of Florida (go Gators!).  I was very fortunate to work with a professor in the political science department on a thesis related to ethnic violence against minorities in the Russian Federation.  This experience sparked my interest in pursuing a degree related to international affairs.

When I graduated, I was accepted into Teach For America as a fifth-grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher in Halifax, North Carolina.  As a teacher I honed my leadership skills, shared my passion for reading and writing with my students, and fostered lifelong relationships with my colleagues.  Through learning about Teach For America’s mission, I became devoted to issues of minority rights and providing quality education to children regardless of their background or zip code.

At Fletcher, I want to focus my research on diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States.  I am also interested in developing knowledge and skills related to international education and international minority rights.  At the moment, I am considering self-designing my own field related to these two areas.  I aspire to one day be working with an international organization that is devoted to advocating for human rights, more specifically minorities, or to within the United States government related to Eurasian or Russian affairs.

I have already become very involved on campus, and there seems to be a club for just about anything!  I recently joined the Ambassachords, Fletcher’s premier a cappella group, and I have even been able to perform in one of our Culture Nights!  In my spare time I love to cook, read, go for walks with my dog Obi, and spend time with my wonderful husband Brian.  I am very excited to be working with the Admissions Team, and I hope that I can bring the spirit I have for this school to both current and prospective students!

Dristy:
DristyNamaste!  I am a second-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 2015.

At Fletcher, I am pursuing the Certificate on International Development, with Public & NGO Management and Human Security as my Fields of Study.  This year I also have the pleasure and honor of co-leading the Asia Club and FletcherCares, which have given me more ways to engage with the Fletcher community.  I am excited to be a part of this team at the Office of Admissions again this year and look forward to answering any questions you may have, in order to help you navigate through the graduate school research and application process.

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Last fall, I invited readers to suggest topics for the blog.  I think I covered them, more or less, except for one.  An applicant asked whether there are aspects of international applicants’ backgrounds that the Admissions Committee finds difficult to understand.  I would say that there are, fortunately, few issues that fall under that heading, though we certainly benefit from having Committee members who bring geographic diversity to our conversations.

Though I missed my chance to answer the question last year, I’m here with a response for this year’s applicants.  If I were to tell readers what element of an application is likely to tie us up for a little extra time, it would be the undergraduate transcripts.  Most, but not all (I’m looking at you, Hampshire College), U.S. colleges and universities issue a similar looking document, generally grading on a four-point scale.  Even for those few colleges that use a different system, we’re familiar enough with them that we can easily make the adjustment.  Transcripts from Japan, France, Korea, and China are equally straightforward, even if they don’t use the four-point scale.

But that still leaves many countries to confuse us, which is why we ask applicants to explain their university’s grading system.  Not everyone does a good job with the explanation.  In that case, we might do some research, possibly going as far as contacting the applicant to ask.  In any event, we won’t make a decision on the application until we’re confident we know what we’re looking at.  Even with some grading systems we see frequently, such as that commonly used in the U.K. and universities worldwide that follow the same system, we need your explanations!  Guide us to a thorough understanding of one of the most important elements in your application.

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Through several information sessions that I ran in the past few weeks, my travels in September/October, and the emails I’ve received, I’m very aware of the broad span of preparedness where we find our applicants in the fall.  Some folks have already submitted their applications and may have been thinking about graduate school for a year or more, having gathered ample data on their different options.  Others have started their search more recently, but they will still have time to prepare themselves to put together a strong application in January.

Are you in the latter group?  Let me provide you with some points that you can add to your personal graduate school roadmap.  Though most of our travel is behind us, we’re still offering on-campus and virtual information sessions that will help you fast-track your research.  Check our calendar for everything on offer for the next month or so.  And note that we’ll be participating in an APSIA Online Admissions Fair next week on November 16, through which you can gather information on Fletcher and our APSIA friends, too.

I don’t need to tell you that Fletcher has plenty of information on our website, as do our peers.  Try to understand the different programs and find the best match for your objectives.  Also on Fletcher’s website, information on the application process.  Start creating a timeline so that you’ll be able to complete your applications with minimal stress.  Contact us with your questions that aren’t answered on the website.

 

A bleary-eyed community filled Fletcher yesterday, having followed U.S. election news late into the night.  And speaking of news, today I’ll share some items that you may have missed on other Fletcher sources.

First, for those who still want to read about politics, Fletcher alumnus and one-time presidential candidate Bill Richardson, F71, offered thoughts pre-election for what should happen post-election.

Among more recent alumni, Erik Iverson, F09, F13, has been selected as one of 16 White House Fellows this year.  Erik was a friend of Admissions during his years here, and I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch now-and-then since his graduation.

And, in one of those typically atypical post-Fletcher careers, Marina Pevzner Hennessy, F06, was recently the subject of a Tufts Now story about Plan Bee, her venture to bring bees to Myanmar.

Though he’s not quite an alumnus, Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  President Santos spent a year at Fletcher as a research fellow in the early 1980s.

A new Fletcher scholarship has recently been endowed in the name of Harry Radcliffe, F73, an award-winning journalist with vast experience.

In faculty news, Diana Chigas, F88, has been named the University’s Associate Provost and Senior International Officer.  She will be responsible for engaging leaders across the schools to enhance Tufts’ outreach, impact and visibility internationally.

Retired professor William Moomaw, who maintains his connection with Tufts as co-director of the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE), recorded “How Restorative Development Can Address Climate Change” with WGBH, one of our local public radio and television stations.  In the interview, he discussed industrial agriculture, synthetic fertilizers and more natural approaches to farming that will revive the health of soil, water and air.

And here are two stories that interested me, and might interest you, though the link is to Tufts University more generally, not to Fletcher.

First, a statue of famed American abolitionist, John Brown, was discovered hidden at Tufts.  Beyond those basic facts is a tale of museum sleuth work and the historical connections between Tufts, its neighbors, and the Underground Railroad.

And second, the story of the creation of the Daily Skimm, by an alumna of the undergraduate program at Tufts.

Last of all, I’ll leave you with the recently-launched video introducing Fletcher to new audiences.  On a personal note, I’ll add only that Kaddu Sebunya, F02, was once a student member of the Admissions Committee.  And that’s what’s best about my job.  I get so much from interacting with folks during this brief pause in their careers.  Then off they go to do great things in whatever area they choose.

 

This is an exciting week for a team of Fletcher students and faculty members who are attending the COP22 international climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco, along with others from Tufts.  The Provost’s Office and Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy has provided funding to support the students’ travel to the talks, which will run from November 7 to 18, and where delegates will prepare for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Some of the travelers will be adding posts from Marrakech to a blog maintained by the Tufts Institute of the Environment, and I will also pick up the Fletcher students’ posts here.  Meanwhile, you can follow the delegation at #TuftsCOP22.  A highlight so far: Second-year MALD student from Indonesia, Angga, speaking to an Indonesian contingent.

Angga

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Only eight days until the November 15 Early Notification deadline.  As there are hundreds of applications awaiting submission (most of which won’t turn up here until January) and only 15 ready for review, I’ll guess that this is still a good time to point you toward past blog posts about application essays.  You may already have noticed that we have a whole category-worth of Admissions Tips.  And then there’s a tag that captures everything we’ve written about the essays.  For all the TLDR folks out there, I will summarize all the many posts this way:

Read the essay questions/topics.  Write the essays.  Follow the instructions regarding word count etc. (knowing that your essay will not be truncated if it goes a word over the limit, but we’ll know if it goes 100 words too long).  Review what you’ve written and check that you’ve answered the question.  Ask someone else to review what you’ve written and check that you’ve answered the question.  Proofread.  Be sure you haven’t left in a reference to another graduate school.  (Yes, it happens.)

That’s it — the secret sauce.  Of course, if you comb through all the posts, you’ll gather other details and also learn about my personal pet peeve: highfalutin vocabulary that randomly drops into an otherwise ordinary essay.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about essays before the January deadline, but I hope today’s brief post will arrive at the right time for November 15 applicants in the proofreading phase, and will also set January applicants up to start their writing.

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Gathering information about the graduate schools to which you apply is an important part of the application process.  And, though I hope you’ll stay tuned to the blog, I also recommend you take a look at what our friends in the Fletcher communications office are offering.  First, they consolidate materials, such as op-eds written by Fletcher faculty and students or longer publications including books and articles.  They also highlight print/radio/TV comments or interviews.  And my favorite offerings are Fletcher Features, stories written about the community and events at Fletcher.

Today, I’ll direct your attention to one of the features — an interview with Rizwan Ladha, PhD candidate and Admissions pal.  I love his reference to “a global circle of people who have been through this tiny school at the top of a hill in Medford.”  Rizwan has been a star throughout his MALD and PhD studies, and it’s great to see the spotlight shined on him.

 

Our final summer report from the writers in the blog’s Student Stories feature comes from Adnan, who spent two months 200 miles from Fletcher.

Yes, you’ve heard that the interests and experiences of Fletcher’s student body are diverse.  (We love that about us, and even within the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy program, often call ourselves Peace MALDs, War MALDs, Business/Money MALDs, or Skills MALDs to highlight our various specialties.)  But you won’t truly appreciate our eclecticism until you hear about the places we go during the summer.  From volunteering for refugees in Greece and doing development work in Ghana to interning at NATO’s office in Italy and the State Department in DC, my classmates were scattered across the globe between mid-May and end-August.  Though my own internship took me only 200 miles from Boston, it gave me an around-the-world, Fletcher-like experience.

Adnan_UNICEFUNICEF’s Headquarters in New York is where I interned for two months this summer.  I worked in the New Talent Unit of the Division of Human Resources where I assisted the New and Emerging Talent Initiative team as they prepared to launch their recruitment campaign in August.  Now in its ninth year, NETI is UNICEF’s professional development program that offers opportunities in various functional areas at duty stations around the world.  I helped the NETI team with outreach and with developing a communication strategy.  This included drafting and monitoring targeted ad campaigns for NETI job openings on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Ads, which I particularly enjoyed.  My job also included writing content for and managing NETI’s internal website and social media pages, and preparing documents for performance reviews of current NETI candidates.

A lot of what I did was linked to my prior work experience in journalism and to my International Information and Communication Field of Study at Fletcher, so my internship allowed me to further develop my skills and add a new perspective.  I also benefited tremendously from working closely with a small team as it gave me greater responsibility and the opportunity to be fully engaged while I gained insight on human resources, UNICEF, and the UN at large.  Being at Headquarters provides interns considerable access to networking opportunities with UN staff, and to a fairly diverse set of events.  I was lucky to be able to attend the first-ever townhall meeting with the candidates running for Secretary General of the UN; the World Humanitarian Day event which included moving speeches by a Syrian refugee family and by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie; and a concert by the Oscar winning composer A.R. Rahman on India’s Independence Day, a pass that I got minutes before the show.

When my friends asked me about my internship, I’d tell them it was like being back at Fletcher.  My colleagues were all from different countries and the work environment was very congenial.  Furthermore, I was surrounded by equally diverse fellow interns who were wonderful to hang out with.  Sounds familiar, no?  And Fletcher is indeed everywhere.  I connected with a number of alumni working at the UN who were very generous with their time and advice.  Additionally, about a dozen of my classmates were interning in New York, too — at UN agencies and elsewhere — and a bunch of 2016 grads had also moved to the city to start or look for jobs.  We met up often to explore everything that New York has to offer, and it was always great fun!  Overall, my summer was a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way

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UN interns (including Adnan) and UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake rooting for Team Refugees at the 2016 Olympics as part of a UNICEF campaign.

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At noon today, Kristen and I will be offering an information session for Tufts undergraduates studying international relations.  We enjoy connecting this way with our friends in the School of Arts and Sciences, one of the two main undergraduate programs, along with the School of Engineering.  We’ll be joined by two Double Jumbos, who will describe their path from when they graduated from Tufts to when they enrolled at Fletcher.  Though Kristen and I have been offering these sessions each fall for several years now, today’s blog post is about a new cooperative initiative, launched by two second-year MALD students, Rafael Loss and Suzanne Webb. 

Before you read Rafael’s report, I want to take a second to point out that students develop many new activities each year.  With a good plan and a little hustle, you can make any number of things happen.  And one brief explanatory note: Packard Avenue is the street running in front of Fletcher.  You’ll see the reference in Rafael’s story below.

Over the past months, Suzanne Webb and I have worked hard to create the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium, an undergraduate research symposium, which will take place at The Fletcher School this Friday, November 4th.

In conversations with students, staff, and faculty, both at Fletcher and at the various undergraduate programs at Tufts University, we heard time and again people lament the perceived “Packard Avenue gap”: the sense that there is little exchange between graduate and undergraduate students.  We know that Fletcher is sometimes perceived as its own little galaxy in the Tufts universe.  Likewise, Fletcher students usually encounter Tufts undergraduates only in Ginn Library during finals, when everyone is fighting for study space.

Given the vast experience of Fletcher students in all areas of international affairs and beyond, and Tufts students’ equally diverse research interests, we thought that a research symposium would be a great forum for exchange to bridge the gap.  We approached Fletcher administrators and established contacts with Tufts undergraduate degree programs and Tufts institutions including the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life and Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership.  Everyone we spoke to enthusiastically supported our idea and made valuable suggestions for the event.

In addition to the great advice, we were also extremely fortunate to receive funding from the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement.  Thanks to their generous support, our presenters and audience members will be well caffeinated and fed at the event.

On September 16th, we sent out the call for applications for the inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium and only a few days later we received the first submission.  By the end of the deadline, roughly a dozen Tufts undergraduates had submitted proposals.  On November 4th, ten of them will present their research in front of their peers and Fletcher students in three panels chaired by Fletcher PhD candidates Megan Rounseville and Rebecca Tapscott, and MALD candidate Rachel Porter.  Fletcher’s Professor of International Humanitarian Studies Kimberly Theidon will deliver the welcoming remarks.

After months of planning, coordinating, and advertising, we are thrilled that our event is around the corner.  We hope that this first research symposium will spark continued exchange between Fletcher and Tufts students on academic research, that it will be further institutionalized, and that the conference will become an annual highlight on the Tufts and Fletcher calendars.

You can see the full Symposium schedule here.

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