Posts by: Jessica Daniels

The average Fletcher student is not here to goof off.  On the contrary, most students are both challenged by their coursework and also inclined to inch right up against the boundaries of the maximum they can handle at any given time.  Last Thursday, Ali shared details of her fall 2015 semester, which pushed her academically and forced her to employ advanced time management skills.  I have two more fall wrap-ups to share, from Aditi and Tatsuo, and they both describe tough semesters.  Today, let’s read about Aditi’s experience in her second year in the MALD program, and the reality of how challenging a semester can be.

As a second year student at Fletcher, a lot of things are easier this year — for example, knowing where to find a microwave when Mugar Café is closed, or how early to get to Social Hour for food, or how to petition anything you don’t really want to do.  But between worrying about careers, life after May, campus jobs, classes, and a Capstone Project, second year is still very challenging.  One of the things my friends and I have struggled with this year is dealing with these stresses without letting them get the better of us.

It’s really easy to lose perspective at Fletcher.  We’re so engrossed in campus life that it’s hard to focus on making sure we’re not over-extending ourselves, especially because we want to challenge ourselves and get involved as much as possible.  It’s also hard to find the time to stay engaged with life outside Fletcher — the friends, family, and other communities that we built long before arriving here.

Last semester, I decided to push myself academically and take classes that I personally found very difficult.  A lot of my friends made similar decisions.  While the classes were very rewarding and I learned a lot, by the middle of the semester I was burned out and struggling to keep on top of everything.  I just couldn’t juggle classes, work, the unavoidable necessities of regular life (you know, laundry, groceries, cleaning…), and friends and family.  At one point, I was concerned that instead of really understanding and learning in my classes, I was just rushing through the motions of finishing one assignment after the next.  Everything came to a head when I had a series of personal commitments, and I found myself unable to keep up with anything, academic or personal.  Several of my second-year friends were in the same situation, and we all realized that rather than making the most of our Fletcher experience, we were selling ourselves short by not investing the time necessary to truly enjoy it.

In retrospect, I think that much of my stress and anxiety could have been avoided had I been more realistic about my plans for the semester.  Yes, I wanted a challenge — but I wasn’t honest with myself about what I need to stay sane and happy, such as finding time to cook, spend time with my friends, stay connected to my family and relationships outside Fletcher, and get enough movement and exercise.  Many of us also delayed taking advantage of some of the great resources available to us here, such as Tufts Mental Health Services and our Fletcher community of friends.

Fletcher is a fantastic experience, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the most of graduate school and cram in as much as possible.  In the middle of all that we have going on here, it’s essential to remember to take care of ourselves and keep this experience in perspective!  I overextended myself last semester, but I don’t regret pouring all my energy into it.  As I start a new semester, I will learn from the experience, and plan my time in a way that fosters both my learning and my overall happiness, a suggestion I would give to anyone planning to come to Fletcher.

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The quickest of updates today.  First, the Office of Admissions is closed for the public holiday.  We’ll reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Our January 10 applicants will want to know that we’re making excellent progress in compiling and reading applications.  The students on the Admissions Committee read a lot of applications over their break, and now it’s up to the Admissions staff to pick up the pace of their own reading.  Applicants should know, though, that no matter whether we read your application first or last, all decisions will go out together at the end of March.

The process for reviewing PhD applications takes extra time, but nearly all of those submitted on December 20 have been read at least once already.  Decisions for PhD applicants will also go out at the end of March.

 

New students (the 2016 group of “Januarians”) have been participating in their Orientation this week, and continuing students will return on Tuesday.  Today, let’s hear from Ali about her extremely busy fall semester.

As winter break comes to an end, it’s hard to believe that I have only one semester left!  The fall was a whirlwind of finding balance between strengthening last year’s skills and pursuing new growth ahead.

My internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors — mentioned in my last post — was definitely something new.  I expanded my terminology within fixed income investing; experienced work in a medium-sized enterprise; and familiarized myself with downtown Boston, which I’m sad to say that I (and many of my peers) didn’t do in my first year.  It was overwhelming to balance school with work three days a week, but I’m glad I made time to do the internship.  I’m constantly reminded that this is the last time in my life when I’ll be encouraged to learn as much as I contribute at work.  I’m excited to continue interning there during my final semester.

My law courses in Trade Law, International Business Transactions, and Mergers & Acquisitions were all new for me, too.  I can’t recommend taking three law classes in one semester without a legal background, but Fletcher’s law professors succeeded in pushing me and teaching me to think in a new light.  I’m confident my familiarity with corporate law will differentiate me from other job-seeking graduate business candidates and will help me in future executive corporate roles.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

Ali (second from left) and Fletcher friends at the Net Impact conference.

It hasn’t all been new, however.  I had a great time attending my second annual Net Impact conference in Seattle, WA, building off of last year’s experience.  It has been awesome to grow the club at Fletcher — we had five people attend the conference this year! — and to plan another fun semester of events, including an intimate speaker session with Talbot’s head of supply chain sustainability and a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) certification workshop for students that will take place with Boston College’s Net Impact Club this spring.  A year ago, the second-year students passed the running of the club on to Chelsey and me, and now it’s fulfilling to pass it off to first-year students Ben and Harper.  I’m excited to see where they take it!

Stay tuned for adventures in my final semester, when I’ll return to Belgium over spring break with funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context to do field research for my capstone project!

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Ariel 2015Most of today’s blog readers won’t remember Ariel, a 2013 graduate of the MIB program, but that’s really a mistake on my part.  Ariel was a member of the Admissions Office student staff from 2011-2013, and she skillfully doled out advice in the blog’s “Dear Ariel” feature.  (Correcting for my previous oversight, I now encourage you to check it out — Ariel provided good information!)

Fast forward about two and a half years, and exciting news about Ariel recently landed in my inbox.  She has been recognized in the “Law and Policy” sector in Forbes Magazine‘s “30 Under 30″ feature for her work with the U.S. State Department combating drug trafficking.

Ariel was the first MIB student with a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.  Other MIB graduates have pursued careers with the State Department or other government agencies, but the Pickering Fellowship certainly seems to have boosted Ariel’s career onto the fast track.

It’s a treat for the Admissions team to see one of our students honored in this way.  Congratulations, Ariel!

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I recently heard some news about a 2015 graduate and I could not have been happier for him.  (More on the actual news in a future post.)  This was someone with whom I had been in frequent contact throughout his application year and during his two years at Fletcher.  Honestly, these relationships are the best part of my job.  I get so much satisfaction out of my tiny part in helping applicants/students accomplish their goals, and I’m always happy to take questions from prospective students who are putting together all the pieces as they explore their graduate school options.

Despite the value that my Admissions pals and I place on our interactions with you, and at the risk of seeming peevish, I want to ask you to be a little patient this week while we go through the many applications that were submitted over the weekend.  Please don’t email individual staff members directly to ask us to check your application.  Reread yesterday’s blog post, and then sit tight.  The task of the week is reviewing all the applications, and you’ll hear from us soon.

The relative speed with which we can compile applications is one of the prime benefits of our relatively new application system.  It used to take WEEKS  before we would have completed the process of matching applications with supplemental materials.  The first day after the deadline would be consumed with little more than printing the applications and putting them into folders!  (This 2012 post gives you an idea.  SIXTEEN DAYS before I was able to say that we had cleared the table of piles of mail and folders waiting to be compiled!)

Keep the bad old days of 2012 in mind as you read my request that you not ask to jump the application review queue.  You’ll hear from us soon about the completeness of your application.  On the other hand, all other questions are still fair game.  Feel free to write about other topics that are on your mind, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

There’s a hurry up and wait quality to the application deadline.  Those of you whose applications have our staff busy checking materials may have raced up toward the deadline to add all the finishing touches.  And now all you can do is wait.  Wait…and also monitor your application status until you’re sure that your application is complete and has moved along to the Admissions Committee.  To that end, here are the instructions for tracking your application.

AFTER YOU SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION, your Application Status page will display the information you need to track your application.

To access your Application Status Page you can either click the “Start an Application” link on the Admissions website or save the application link.  You will login with the email and password you used when you created your application.

How Do I Know If My Application is Incomplete or Complete?

Even after you have submitted all the required materials, your application will wait until a staff member has reviewed each document to check that it is correct and legible.  Only then is the application considered complete and ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Your Application Status page displays the most up-to-date information on your application.  Please allow us up to 10 days after we receive your materials to update your status.  It isn’t that checking each application takes a long time, but there are a great number to review and we want to get it right.

Your application will be marked as incomplete if we find that items are missing, your transcripts are difficult to read or not translated into English, or your application fee has not been received (with the exception of fee waivers).  If we are missing materials or cannot read application documents, we will contact you.

Fletcher Admissions will send you a confirmation email when all of your application materials have been compiled and your application is ready to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  Once your application is complete, there’s nothing more you need to do (except wait).

Please Note: Whether your application is processed first or last has no bearing on your admissions decision.  But you do need to ensure that you have sent us all the needed materials.

When Will I Receive My Decision?

Decisions will be released toward the end of March.  We will send a message with information regarding your decision to the email address you used on your application.  We will also include information about scholarship awards for admitted students in March.

If you have further questions, please email us or call us at +1.617.627.3040.

Please use the email address that you included in your application on all email messages to the office.  We try to respond to every message on the same day we receive it, but due to the large number of emails we receive, it can take several days for us to reply to you.  We appreciate your patience!

 

Here we are, with the general application deadline in clear view.  Unless you have already applied, you’re probably typing away, getting everything ready to submit by 11:59 p.m. EST (UTC-5) on Sunday, January 10.  (Yes, there are later deadlines, but they’re appropriate for relatively few applicants.)  Remember that, to meet the deadline, you need to submit all the parts of the application that you control.  DO NOT hold your application for recommenders or for test scores.  (On the other hand, do make sure your recommenders are well aware of the deadline.)  If you are still waiting for an official transcript to arrive so that you can upload a copy, send us whatever you have now, and send the official version when you receive it.

Remember to proofread your essays and double check that you have answered all the questions.  And then…click submit.  We’ll see you (more precisely, your application) very soon!

 

So I answer my office phone one day.  I note the caller ID (“Farzana Hoque”), but the person on the other end is Matt Herbert, a PhD candidate.  Matt and I chat about his reason for calling, but then I ask him about the caller ID.  “Farzana is my wife,” he says.  Then (at my prompting) he goes on to explain that he (a 2010 MALD graduate) met Farzana (a 2012 MALD graduate), during her final semester at Fletcher.  He had just returned from a year living and working in Norway.  They stayed in Boston from 2012 to 2013 (she was working, he continued with the PhD program) while they considered if their relationship might be a keeper.  It was.

In 2013, Matt bought an engagement ring in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 2014, they were married.  Three times.  The first wedding was the one that made everything official, and yet it took place in a car speeding out of Washington, DC.  They needed to fulfill the requirement imposed by their DC marriage license that the formal ceremony be performed in the District.  Matt’s sister, who had obtained legal authority to conduct the wedding, was in the car.  A kiss at the spotlight sealed their “I do’s.”  The second was a “Flash Wedding” — Matt and Farzana’s secret plan to turn a small wedding shower into an actual, though low-key, wedding.  (Matt’s sister officiated this time, too.)

The third wedding took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh — a three-day ceremony filled with dancers, food, and 400 friends and relatives.  Several Fletcher alumni living in Dhaka even made an appearance.

Matt and Farzana now live and work in Washington, DC, except when Matt is in West or North Africa for work or research.  Their life together has already touched on more than the average number of countries, in true Fletcher fashion.

Matt and Farzana

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Let me say at the outset that we know the whole transcript requirement is easier for graduates from U.S. colleges and universities than it is for those from many other parts of the world.

What we require is a scanned and uploaded copy of an official transcript.  You don’t need to mail us the official transcript (though you may, if you prefer), but regardless of the method of transmission, we want to see an official transcript, with the names of each class, the associated grade, the indication you actually graduated (or will graduate before August 2016), and the dates of your enrollment.

For most students, that means you will either scan the official transcript you already have, or you will need to request one.  And it also means that we don’t want you to send us an unofficial grade report.  Check the application instructions for additional guidance on the transcript requirement.

Experience tells us that nearly all applicants can submit the transcript we require.  Though the deadline is coming fast, you still have the time to line up the correct document and upload it shortly after you have submitted the application.  And we also know that there will be a very small number of applicants who truly can’t access an official transcript.  We will work with them.  But everyone else should scan and upload a copy of their official transcript.

 

What better way to celebrate the first work day of 2016 than to return to the Five-Year Updates from the Class of 2010.  This post comes from Adam Welti.

Adam WeltiFive years after graduation from Fletcher, I am currently employed by a United States Government technical agency that allows me to work with high-level political leaders to support sustainable natural resource policies — as well as farmers and young people living in and around forests and wetlands that hold some of the greatest biodiversity in the world — to develop more sustainable agricultural practices while improving livelihoods.  A career at this nexus was my goal, and my Fletcher experience played a large part in helping me arrive at where I am today.

Before Fletcher

My international interests began with study-abroad trips that later led to two years with the Peace Corps in Morocco, where I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer in a rural Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains.  Following this formative experience in Morocco, I taught English at a high school in Saint Dizier, France through the Foreign Language Teaching Program.  During my time abroad, I realized I wanted to pursue graduate studies in an international affairs program that had a strong faculty and curriculum in environment and natural resource policy, to augment my undergraduate work in environment and natural resource science.  I sought a school with a strong sense of community that reflected the value of community I had come to appreciate as a part of my childhood and later years in Morocco.  For those primary reasons, Fletcher stood out as the logical choice for my graduate studies.

During Fletcher

While at Fletcher in the MALD program, I focused on International Environment and Resource Policy as well as International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.  I was fortunate to have a student job at the Office of Development and Alumni Relations that afforded me the opportunity to interact with the extensive Fletcher alumni network, which has truly lived up to the hype.

The summer between my first and second years at Fletcher, I served as an Advocacy Project Fellow in Liberia supporting a local non-governmental organization through capacity building and environmental education assessments.  During my time in Liberia, I met the U.S. Forest Service Advisor to USAID and the Liberian government, who told me about the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs office.  It was this chance encounter that eventually led me to my current position.

After Fletcher

Upon graduation from Fletcher, I worked with the Rainforest Alliance supporting their Forest Stewardship Council certification work.  In 2011, I joined the Africa and Middle East team of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, where I manage programs in West and North Africa.  Our office works to connect the technical expertise of the 35,000 staff of the U.S. Forest Service with our partners abroad.  Through technical exchange missions, policy dialogues, international seminars, and longer-term development projects, we partner with other forestry and environment agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to sustainably manage natural resources while improving livelihoods.

Adam Welti in GhanaMy work with the U.S. Forest Service allows me to interact with high level government counterparts within U.S. government and host country agencies, as well as with resilient, inspiring farmers in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.  In my work across West and North Africa, for example, I have been able to leverage my knowledge and experience in international negotiations and agreements to support capacity related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  Managing a complex project and a team that works with more than 300 subsistence-level farmers to integrate fruit and timber trees into their farm lands, while improving incomes and conserving biodiversity, and at the same time informing national-level dialogues related to leveraging international carbon market funding, combines my undergraduate training with my graduate coursework.  This has proven to be an ideal match and a rewarding career.

Throughout the five years since leaving the Tufts campus, I have found the Fletcher community to be incredibly strong.  Whether meeting Fletcher alumni within the greater U.S. government community abroad or finding myself seated next to a fellow 2010 graduate on a flight to West Africa, the sense of community remains strong even after graduation.  I am proud to be a member of the Fletcher alumni network and enjoy being able to leverage what I learned in Medford in my work across the ocean.

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