#ElliottProud: Nadezhda Mouzykina

Blog_ #EP Mouzykina

Nadezhda Mouzykina is a Senior Program Manager with the National Democratic Institute‘s Central and Eastern Europe team. She holds an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University and a B.A. in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. A native Russian speaker from St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Mouzyking also minored in German during her undergraduate studies, spending a semester at the Freie University in Berlin, Germany. Since 2009, she has managed in-country and regional programming focused on parliamentary strengthening, political party and civil society development, and minority rights, particularly the Roma minority. Prior to joining NDI, Ms. Mouzykina managed international exchange and technical assistance programs in the International Affairs Department of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She also spent a year in Moscow as part of the Alfa Fellowship Program, during which she worked as a Development and Project Advisor at PH International, a global nonprofit organization that promotes cultural exchanges and people-to-people diplomacy. 

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am a Sr. Program Manager for programs in Central and Eastern Europe at the National Democratic Institute. My responsibilities are varied. Briefly, I manage the overall strategy, vision and implementation of various democracy development programs, spanning multiple countries in Central Europe and the Western Balkans; develop grant proposals to secure funding; draft reports, memoranda, blogs, and work plans; liaise with a variety of donors and partners in Washington, D.C. and overseas; travel to the region; brief political, civic and business leaders, donor organizations and international community members about NDI activities; and represent NDI, as needed.

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

When I graduated from the MA program, I was interning with an organization that offered me to stay. However, I did explore other opportunities, though eventually decided to remain where I was. I worked for that organization for six years. I strongly advise students to take every opportunity to network while they are in school, find internship opportunities that could lead to eventual job prospects, request informational interviews at organizations they are interested in, and be willing to be a little flexible with the positions they take, especially if you have limited professional experience. From my own perspective, both as an employee and an employer, it is not uncommon to have expectations that, once you get hired, you immediately do grand things. And perhaps, in some smaller organizations and companies, you may. But in general, you have to work from the bottom up and take on greater opportunities as you grow. It’s part of the learning process.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

We are not an arm of the U.S. Government, nor are we a cover for CIA activity.

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

I would be a cat – independent, smart, and self-reliant, yet soft and cuddly on the outside.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu

#IncomingElliott: Elizabeth Wright

Blog_ #EI Wright

Elizabeth Wright is a recent graduate of Southwestern University who hails from “Smalltown”, Pennsylvania. While pursuing her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science, she spent her undergraduate years immersed in the interdisciplinary nature of the liberal arts model. Through courses on Religion, Political Psychology, and International Affairs, she became interested in conflict resolution, national security, and emerging technologies. While a student, Elizabeth presented research on women in terror during the 11th Biennial Associated Colleges of the South Gender Studies Conference, published her senior Capstone research on surveillance and the national security state in the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS) journal, Politikon, and served as a 2017 Young Leader of her current employer, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Elizabeth is currently preparing to study the implications of artificial intelligence, dragnet surveillance, and drone warfare while pursuing her Masters in Security Policy Studies at the Elliott School.

What’s on your bucket list when you get to DC?

I’ve heard each DC neighborhood features premier cuisine from across the globe. If this is true, I can’t wait to allow my taste buds to take a world tour! Beyond DC, I am equally excited to venture into Old Alexandria, Virginia wine country, and more. It’s such a luxury to be located within such a vibrant, historic area and it will be amazing to explore all the DMV has to offer.

Is there anything about moving to DC/starting grad school that you’re nervous about?

It will be interesting to begin the balancing act of full-time employment and a GW graduate education. Though I’m a little nervous about the prospects of burning out, I am hopeful I’ll find time to breathe amidst the chaos of school and work.

What are you looking forward to about starting your MA program?

One of the primary factors in my decision to attend the GW Elliott School of International Affairs was the freedom to explore academically and improve my research and analysis capabilities while expanding beyond the theorization of concepts to gain tangible training from policy practitioners. I hope to spend my Master’s experience growing personally and professionally as I pair the newly oriented intensive curriculum with various opportunities within the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy (IISTP) and Institute for Security and Conflict Studies (ISCS).

What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?

My friends often describe me as dynamic, passionate, and persistent. I was raised to have a can-do attitude, one which has definitely been foundational in developing my work ethic and confident mentality.

The #IncomingElliott series highlights the Elliott School’s incoming graduate class for Fall 2018 and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#IncomingElliott: Jason Bilog

Blog_ #EI Bilog

Jason Bilog used to read about different cultures and countries and studying maps for fun as a kid growing up in Hawaii. Since then, he’s tried to incorporate more experiences abroad throughout his academic career. He attended the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Economics and China Studies. He also spent semesters abroad in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Taipei. In the past decade, he’s lived in the DC area working in marketing for a variety of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. He enjoys traveling and periodically writes about his travels and adventures over on his blog. He will be starting his Master’s in Asian Studies at the Elliott School in the fall.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience so far?

It’s hard to pick one specific experience, but I thoroughly enjoyed my study abroad experiences at East China Normal University in Shanghai and National Taiwan University in Taipei, as well as my courses on Diplomatic History and Modern History of East Asia while an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania.

What are you looking forward to about living in the DMV? (DC/Maryland/Virginia)

I’ve lived in the DMV for nearly a decade (this summer will mark my tenth year in DC!), so at this point, I consider myself more or less a local. However, I’m most looking forward to finally being a student once again and meeting other like-minded people interested in pursuing a career in international affairs.

What’s on your summer bucket list before coming to the Elliott School?

Between working and going to school full-time, I’m well aware that this summer will probably be the last for a few years where I’ll have some free time. Over the next few months, I’m looking forward to celebrating Pride in DC and New York, beach trips to Rehoboth and the Jersey Shore, and a trip to Paris and the French Riviera. I’ve also enrolled in beginner French classes at the Global Language Network and brushing up on my Mandarin through classes at the Confucius Institute.

If you could splurge on one gift for yourself, what would it be and why?

I’m going to go with two because I think they’re sort of related! I’d splurge on flight lessons to become a pilot as well as a six-month trip around the world. I’ve planned such a trip for years, and have looked into flight schools around DC, but have never gotten around to it. Hopefully someday!

The #IncomingElliott series highlights the Elliott School’s incoming graduate class for Fall 2018 and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#ElliottProud: Matt Guttentag

Blog_ #EP Guttentag

Matt Guttentag completed the Elliott School’s International Development Studies program in 2012. During his time in school, he worked at Ashoka helping develop, manage, and evaluate online competitions to source innovative social change ideas. After grad school, Matt moved into consulting and honed his M&E skills, working for Mission Measurement to help a range of both public and private clients better track and evaluate their impact. Matt then spent a few years working directly for USAID in the Global Development Lab, with a focus on engaging the private sector and helping develop start-up ecosystems in the developing world. He is now at LINC, a small consulting firm that uses different analytical tools and approaches to help local organizations and institutions play more of a lead role in development.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am a Program Director at LINC, where I work with clients and partners in the international development sector to design more effective programs and measure impact. Given that we are a very small organization my responsibilities involve a very wide range of tasks including assessing client or partner needs, identifying the right tools and approaches to use, leading or managing data collection and analysis, communicating results to clients or partners, managing budgets and timelines, and developing new partnership opportunities. My days usually involve some combination of project planning and management, analysis and writing, and partnership-building or client management.

What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?

The range of organizations involved in the international development sector is much more varied now than in the past and goes well beyond traditional donors such as USAID and the World Bank. The landscape is increasingly fragmented as well as increasingly led by local organizations in the developing world, so skills that are both applicable across different organization types and that complement or support local expertise will be important. This includes different analytical methods and tools (both quantitative and qualitative), the ability to communicate data insights for a non-technical audience, and techniques to facilitate collaboration and decision-making among different organizations.

When you need inspiration, you … ?

Go for a long walk or read fiction.

If you were a box of cereal, what kind would you be and why?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch, objectively the best cereal.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu

#IncomingElliott: Doris Ibekwe

Blog_ #EI Ibekwe

Doris Ibekwe was born and raised in Nigeria where she earned her first degree in law at the University of Benin, after which she went to London for a Master degree in General Law at the Brunel University London. She has had the opportunity to work with reputable Law firms in Nigeria, including an internship at Ikpeazu Chambers & Co and M.A & Co where she worked as a Junior Legal Counsel/Mediator. Currently, she works at the Nigerian EXIM Bank as legal counsel where she has been exposed to the world of development and finance. For fun, she volunteers in visiting Nigerian Prisons, helping towards the rehabilitation of inmates. She also loves to travel and has traveled to 17 countries and counting. She will be starting her Master’s in International Development Studies at the Elliott School in the fall.

What made you interested in your undergrad field of study and how, if at all, did that contribute to your decision to go to grad school?

 As far as I can remember, I grew up with a sense of inquisitiveness that made me question norms, traditions, and patterns in my society. As I grew older, I became more aware of a nudge to advocate against conflict, gender inequality and rights abuse embedded in these traditions.

During my undergrad days, I became more acquainted with implications of a lawful decent society and the consequences of lack of law, order, and justice, and this propelled me to begin to seek out ways I could personally contribute to making a difference in the life of the next person I come across and the society at large.

What are you looking forward to about starting your MA program?

My main attraction here was not only the vast opportunities offered at the Elliott School of International Affairs, I found intriguing the opportunity for students to experience a real-world consultancy for an international development organization a perfect combination while studying the MA program.

The prospect of acquiring new knowledge while exposing my previous experience gain and learning acquired to a broader spectrum of information in a new field of study though related to my background study excites me. I also look forward to a cross-pollination of ideas and information from my lecturers and classmates as we engage in lectures, reviews, and other activities during the program. I expect this program will broaden my depth in development work, skills, and professional experience.

Is there anything about moving to DC/starting grad school that you’re nervous about?

Of course, I am a bit nervous about moving to a new place for the period of this program; the decision to take a break mid-career to pursue something I am passionate about is scary, yet I am certain it’s the right thing to do. So yes, I am nervous but excited to experience student life again.

If you could have a parade on any day for any occasion, what would your parade be for?

My Parade will be celebrating women of achievement contributing to sustainable development, peace, and security, women who have made a difference providing the next generation with the opportunity and recognition of their equality, right to be heard, participation and leadership in every chosen aspect.

The #IncomingElliott series highlights the Elliott School’s incoming graduate class for Fall 2018 and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#IncomingElliott: Tristan H. Williamson

Blog_ #EI Williamson

Tristan H. Williamson is an incoming student to the M.A. in International Affairs program with concentrations in International Law and Organizations and U.S. Foreign Policy from Clarksville, Virginia. He received his BA in International Affairs from James Madison University specializing in Europe with minors in Modern European Studies and Business German. During his undergraduate studies, he was a Founding Father and former Vice President of Chi Chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon, the Foreign Service Fraternity, and was a participant in the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Model European Union in Washington, DC. Most recently, he served as a virtual intern with Department of State as a member of the 2017-2018 Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS). As part of this internship, he worked remotely with American diplomats at U.S. Consulate General in Durban, South Africa where he researched and wrote material for the U.S. Mission in South Africa on political and economic developments in South Africa’s second largest province, KwaZulu-Natal. He speaks German, English, and has a basic knowledge of Afrikaans.

What made you interested in your MA program of choice? 

With the Elliott School’s well-regarded reputation as being one of the most prestigious schools of foreign affairs, the MAIA program appealed to me because it combines academic theory with practical experience taught by notable foreign affairs professionals. Additionally, part of the reason why I chose to attend the Elliott School is the emphasis placed on professional development.

What skills do you hope to pick up/develop at the Elliott School?

I hope to further my understanding of contemporary problems in international affairs as well the skills necessary to solve these complex problems from multiple perspectives. My hope is to utilize the professional skills courses offered by the Elliott School so that I may become a well-rounded foreign affairs professional and join the US Foreign Service.

What’s on your summer bucket list before coming to the Elliott School?

During the summer my plan is to familiarize myself with the Washington, D.C. area, find an internship/part-time job for the fall, and of course, find an apartment.

If you could recommend one city outside of the US that people should visit, which city would you recommend and why?

Cape Town, South Africa. As an undergrad, I interned for an NGO in Cape Town and absolutely loved the city. Hands down one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city offers a nice mix of African and European flair and it’s very culturally diverse. It is surrounded by natural beauty such as Table Mountain, Lion Head, and offers great beaches! (Much like the people, the beaches in and around Cape Town are very diverse because it is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean).  

The #IncomingElliott series highlights the Elliott School’s incoming graduate class for Fall 2018 and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#ElliottProud: Aaron Wodin-Schwartz

Blog_ #EP Wodin-Schwartz

Aaron Wodin-Schwartz earned his master’s degree in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies and worked as the program assistant for the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program during his time at the Elliott School. He also spent a summer interning at the Institute for National Security Studies at the National Defense University. After graduating, Aaron started a job at the Commerce Department through the Presidential Management Fellow program, where he worked on U.S. trade policy and competitiveness. Aaron completed a detail on the Brazil desk at the State Department. Upon completion of the PMF program, he joined a brand new, public-private partnership to promote the United States around the world as a travel destination.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am the Vice President of Public Policy and Public Affairs for Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States. In this role, I lead outreach efforts to the federal government and key industry stakeholders to ensure productive implementation of the Travel Promotion Act and develop collaborative opportunities to promote inbound travel to the United States. Prior to joining Brand USA, I was a Presidential Management Fellow who served as policy advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for services industries at the Department of Commerce and a stint as a Brazil desk officer at the U.S. Department of State.

What professional organization, websites, or Elliott School courses, would you recommend for students interested in your field, and why?

There are a plethora of great organizations and resources in the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies field. I have particularly enjoyed programming and publications from organizations like the Interamerican Dialogue, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Atlantic Council, among many others.

In addition, I always recommend students take a variety of interdisciplinary courses in order to understand developments in the region from a holistic perspective—everything from the trade policy to security cooperation, international development, social movements, relations with Asia, and more.

Finally, for those interested in public service, I can’t recommend the Presidential Management Fellow program enough.

What part of your career do you find most challenging and how do you stay motivated?

The most challenging part of my career is keeping abreast of emerging trends and themes in global travel while continuing to execute programs and initiatives day-to-day. But the variety, pace, and importance of the work mean that every day brings new challenges and satisfactions that keep me motivated.

The best compliment I’ve received … ?

Boy, you sure know how to cook!

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu