#WeAreElliott:Hakim Jan

Blog_ #WAE Jan

Mr. Hakim Jan is a Youth Exchange & Study (YES) alumnus and an Afghan Fulbright scholar. He is from and grew up in Afghanistan. He holds a B.A. in political science with a minor in national security studies from the University of Houston (2015). He is pursuing a master’s in Security Policy Studies at the Elliott School. He has six years of professional and teaching experiences combined. He enjoys writing analytical papers, teaching, traveling, volunteering, watching basketball games, brunches, and exploring new possibilities. He is interested in becoming a Professor of political science. Equally, he is motivated to serve in the realm of national security in Afghanistan.

What has been your most rewarding work, intern or volunteer experience since starting your program at the Elliott School?

I explored multiple rewarding opportunities for volunteering since starting my program at the Elliott School. In particular, participating in a panel-discussion and delivering a presentation on the importance of international exchange programs, and being a guest at the GW Public Policy podcast has been fulfilling experiences.

What courses have you found most helpful in your work/intern/volunteer experiences and how have they been useful?

I found all my courses relevant, challenging, and useful. Three courses, in particular, have been most helpful: HIST 6032, IAFF 6160, and IAFF 6163.

 What advice do you have for prospective students who are on the fence about applying to a graduate program at the Elliott school?

 The Elliott School offers abundant resources to help you succeed. Three points: first, read the curriculum of the program of your interest. Second, identify the courses that you think are most relevant and useful. Three, seek assistance from faculty and staff who are at the School to help you.

Favorite summer activity?

My favorite summer activity would be to volunteer because without it some people will not afford to receive help (however you define help). Beaches are there for you, too.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

Elliott School Graduate Open House 2018

Twitter_ Open House 2018-6

The Elliott School’s Sigur Center for Asian Studies was recently named a Title VI National Resource Center, with expertise from professors like Elizabeth Chacko, Bruce Dickson and Asian Studies Director Gregg Brazinsky. Get an in-depth look at this region with a degree from the Elliott School and join us for this year’s Graduate Open House on 11/13!

#ElliottProud: Lindsay North

Blog_ #EP North

Lindsay North graduated from Trinity College in 2006 with a BA in English/Creative Writing. A circuitous path via publishing, advertising, New York City and South Africa led her to the International Development Studies program at the Elliott School, which she graduated from in 2012. During grad school, she interned at MSI on the DG Analytics team, which turned into a full-time position after she graduated. Lindsay spent several years with MSI in DC and then in Pakistan, and was then recruited by DAI to join their USAID/OTI program there. After four years in Pakistan, she’s now back in the US and working with DAI remotely from Portland, OR. She provides M&E, research, and technical support to their portfolio of CVE, conflict, and stabilization programming.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I currently work as a Global Practice Specialist within the Center for Secure and Stable States (CS3) at DAI. My focus is on M&E, program design, and research in VE- and conflict-affected environments. 

What part of your experience at the Elliott School best prepared you for your current position? (Specific classes, student orgs, career development office, etc.)

All of it! The practical focus of the program was a huge asset—I gained a foundational understanding of program design, qualitative research methodologies, and how to build a logframe, among other things. Colleagues who had graduated from other programs didn’t usually have those skill sets when they first started. I also liked the option to take classes at other schools with GWU. The Capstone was an incredible experience, both in terms of working with a client and the fieldwork component. I had fantastic professors as well—I’m looking at you, Professor Roberts and Professor Fink!

How does what you’re doing now compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your program at the Elliott School?

I thought I’d be focused on education, and conflict/CVE was not on my radar at all. However, I interned at MSI on the Democracy and Governance Analytics team and it was fascinating. I also had an amazing boss in Lynn Carter, who became a mentor and friend. That led me to pivot from my initial focus on education, to look more specifically at issues of education in conflict-affected environments, and then youth empowerment in conflict settings. I joined MSI full-time after I graduated where I worked on more CVE- and conflict-related projects, which led me out to Pakistan, and then I ended up staying there for four years.

If you would be any type of food/drink, what food/drink would you be?

Pho ga.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Abigail Gress

Blog_ #WAE Gress

Abigail “Abbie” Gress is a second-year Masters candidate in the International Affairs program, concentrating in U.S. foreign policy and conflict resolution. She received her bachelor’s degree in international relations and communications studies at Gonzaga University in 2017. Particularly, she is interested in peacebuilding, post-conflict transitions, and CVE in Latin America. She is currently an international programs intern with Creative Learning and the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI), writing weekly Peace and Security Reports for the Americas region and coordinated the DC Symposium on the New Frontiers of Peacebuilding. She also has experience in international exchange and public diplomacy nonprofits during her time working at Meridian International Center. Abbie enjoys debating current events, traveling, and meeting people from different cultures.      

When did you realize you wanted an international career and what inspired you to select your program/concentration at the Elliott School?

My fascination for international affairs and other cultures started when I participated in a cultural exchange when I was in middle school in China. At this point in my life I had never traveled outside of North America, so traveling to China was a huge step for me. After this and taking classes in government and politics in high school, I knew international affairs was the area for me. In college, I struggled to find my area in international affairs and it wasn’t until my senior year after studying U.S. policy in Latin America that I knew U.S. foreign policy was what I wanted to pursue. It was here at the Elliott School, after taking the introduction to conflict resolution class as an elective that I discovered peacebuilding was what I wanted to pursue professionally. I was then able to start tailoring my professional work around this area when I started working at Creative Learning’s International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI).

What resources (online or offline) have proven to be the most valuable in helping you reach your career success?

Graduate Student Services (GSS)! I remember at orientation during one of the student Q&A panels someone said “if you never go to GSS during your time here, you did something wrong” and I completely agree! The extra steps they go for their advisees is incredible and I consult Tara Sonenshine for almost everything related to my career. They are available at almost any time of day, including phone calls at night if you work and are unable to come in. In my first year at the Elliott School, I think I met with GSS at least 7 times, either in person, through email, or on the phone.

What advice do you have for students for staying motivated at work or in class?

Think about the future. When I feel particularly unmotivated, I try to actually visualize myself in the position I want to hold in the future and what it will feel like when I am actually there. Along with this, remind yourself how school and your current work will assist you in this. Visualization sounds kind of gimmicky but it really works.

Favorite part about living in/around DC?

There is always something to do! I’ve found that it’s important to make sure you have free time when working and going to school, even if you have to actually schedule it in your calendar. Whether it’s exploring the restaurant scene or going to a Smithsonian, you’ll never be bored here.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#ElliottProud: James R. Sullivan

Blog_ #EP Sullivan

James R. Sullivan graduated with an M.A. in International Affairs. His concentrations included Global Energy & Environmental Policy, and International Security Studies. During his time at the Elliott School, James researched the ways in which climate change can lead to or intensify future conflicts, and the role renewable energy sources play in mitigating these risks. James also spent a semester studying abroad in Berlin, Germany where he completed coursework at the Freie Universiät Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. James served as an intern in the Office of the Ambassador at U.S. Embassy Berlin – where he worked closely with the then Chargé d’Affaires. James’ Global Capstone project evaluated the impact of foreign energy sector development aid on the level of globalization in developing economies, and analyzed how the best practices of past projects can be applied to the Power Africa Initiative. James holds a B.A. in German Studies and International Studies from the University of North Dakota. He is originally from Elk River, Minnesota.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

Currently, I am a contractor with CTR Management Group, working as the Office Manager in the Public Diplomacy Training Division at the Foreign Service Institute – the U.S. Department of State’s internal training institution. In my position, I ensure that “all of the trains run on-time” for our staff who are tasked with providing Public Diplomacy Training to all of the State Department’s Foreign and Civil Service employees, as well as locally employed staff at embassies around the world. Some of my specific duties include arranging travel for our division director, drafting and sending cables, and liaising with a host of outside speakers – including current and former U.S. Government Officials. As Office Manager, I also provide training, guidance, and oversight to three program assistants, who support various aspects of our training objectives.

What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students who will start their job search?

I was lucky and was actually already working in my office while studying at Elliott, and was promoted to Office Manager after graduating. In terms of searching for a job I would encourage people to start early, and look everywhere. There are so many different organizations in the DC area that are looking for the skills we gained at the Elliott school, so nobody should ever think “Oh, that place won’t be looking for somebody like me.” You literally never know. One of the things that my friends and I do – which has also been helpful – is to learn what the others are looking for and forward them any position that might fit their interests that we come across in our individual searches. Finding the right job can be tough, but don’t give up!

Pro tip: If you have the opportunity to do an internship that will get you a security clearance while at Elliott, take it!  Having a clearance is super valuable and will make you more marketable when applying for jobs in the private sector.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

It’s huge! FSI has hundreds of staff who teach hundreds of thousands of people each year! They teach State Department employees everything from languages to retirement planning – and even how to use Twitter! Working here has really provided me with an excellent perspective on all that the Foreign Service and the State Department have to offer!

If you could be any animal, what would you be?

In these trying times, I would likely choose to be a Corgi. Corgis bring a smile to everybody’s face and give us all the chance to forget about the world for a moment so we can pet a dog.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Myles Teasley

Copy of Copy of Blog_ #WAE FrancoMyles Teasley has a BA in Political Science & Arabic from Davidson College during which time he studied abroad in Tunisia and Morocco. Before grad school, Myles worked for several think-tanks and NGOs including the ACLU, the Solidarity Center’s MENA Division, and the Arab-American Institute. Currently, Myles teaches history at The Potomac School and he has enjoyed exploring ways to bring his professional interests together. These ways have included working with students to create a non-profit that assists with Syrian refugee resettlement in San Diego, helping design MENA-focused experiential learning opportunities at Potomac, and teaching Middle East elective courses. He has also won grants to develop curriculum relating to the Middle East. At the Elliott School, Myles serves on the Graduate Advisory Board and received a 2018 Aramex grant to return to Morocco to study Arabic. He hopes to graduate with his M.A in Middle East Studies in 2020.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I am a full-time history instructor at the Potomac School in northern Virginia, but I also stay engaged with the Middle East Studies program. I attend MENA-focused lectures and have been in contact with the Institute for Middle East Studies’ K-12 Educational Outreach initiatives in the DMV area. I’ve also participated in professional development opportunities like IMES’ Veterans + Teacher’s Workshop that was offered this past spring. As a result, I’ve been able to explore ways to integrate my intellectual interests into the classroom by using that expertise to help develop Middle East-related curriculum, programming, and experiential learning opportunities for high school students. Moving back and forth from high level learning to high level teaching has instilled certain habits of mind and thinking that, when combined with the program management and cultural literacy skills I’ve picked up, will serve me well as I consider the best way to integrate the disparate aspects that I like about teaching, research, Middle East policy, and about North African culture, into a future career.

What strategies have proven most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School?

It really is remarkable the diversity of opportunities that DC and the Elliott School make available to you. Though I am a part-time grad student, I try hard to take advantage of those opportunities! The weekly Graduate Student Services Career Cafe is one particular highlight, but I’ve tried to attend as many lectures, panel discussions, and book releases as I can because the Elliott School actually grants us that access.

It is also really important to get to know your program staff well. They know more about what internships, fellowships, etc. are out there than almost anyone, so creating that relationship may clue you into opportunities that you might otherwise have missed. The same goes for being intentional about creating relationships with your professors. In fact, it was a personal connection I’d made with two MES staff members in the first days of graduate school that, nearly a year later, alerted me to the existence and application process for my Aramex grant so that I could travel to Morocco this past summer!

What advice do you have for first-year students who are starting their internship or work experience search?

My advice for first-year students is to attend the GSS Career Cafes, be active on Handshake, stay in touch with professors you like, and above all, to schedule an appointment with the Elliott School Career Services staff. They are friendly and professional and are willing to go the extra mile to help transform your resumes and perfect your personal statements.

If you could give 1 gift to the world, what would it be and why?

I would probably give the gift of empathy; I think there are a lot of interpersonal and global problems that would be solved if more people had a better sense of what it meant to walk a mile in someone else shoes. From clearing up tired, but persistent, stereotypes, to better understanding intent and motive, I think the gift of empathy would be a good step for people, communities, societies, and nations to better understand each other.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.