#ElliottProud: Francesco De Simone

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Francesco De Simone is the Modernization of the State Specialist in Kingston, Jamaica for the International Development Bank (IDB) and previously served as the Technical Advisor and Administrator of the IDB Transparency Fund. Francesco has Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Universitá Orientale in Naples, Italy, and received his Master’s in Latin American & Hemispheric Studies from the Elliott School in 2009. He has published on a variety of topics, from anti-corruption practices of donors to transparency policies in the education sector, and from international laws against bribery to procurement monitoring strategies. Before joining the IDB, Francesco worked at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center, in Bergen, Norway, Transparency International (TI) in the U.S., the Office of the Italian Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and as a KYC investigator in the private sector.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am currently the Inter-American Development Bank’s Modernization of the State Specialist in Kingston, Jamaica. My division of the IDB supports countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in strengthening their institutions and reforming their public sector. I am currently the team leader for projects focusing on a variety of issues ranging from citizen security to shared government services, and from anti-money laundering to police reform. My day-to-day work focuses mostly on supporting the Jamaican Government in implementing these projects.

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

When I joined the Elliott School I already had a graduate degree in Political Science from Italy, and, especially in the beginning, I had a lot of doubts and second thoughts as to whether getting another MA made sense. But as the semesters progressed, I clearly saw the benefits of joining the program. First of all, the Latin American & Hemispheric Studies program, and I believe most Elliott School programs, was designed in a way that was very much geared towards the job market – in terms of skills, approach, environment – which is precisely what I needed. Secondly, the career services were just terrific; not only did it open up a lot of opportunities, but also put me in a position to be able to make the best of them.

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 consider myself very lucky in that I ended up working in a sector that is very close to what I had studied – political science, and specifically governance. When I started the LAHSP program I was very interested in security issues, particularly organized crime. I ended up working for many years on anti-corruption, which I think has many ties with that area. And I was also able to maintain a regional focus on Latin America for most of my career, although that has never been a straitjacket.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Interesting that you should ask this! As an Italian from the south, who grew up about 40 miles form Naples, the birthplace of pizza, I think pineapple on pizza is a monstrosity. All pineapples should be removed from all pizzas. Effective Immediately. And subsequently erased from menus. Seriously, who came up with the idea?

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.

#IncomingElliott: Renata Kommel

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Renata Kommel was born and raised in Brazil, where she graduated with a degree in International Relations. She studied abroad in Toulouse, Paris, Boston, and moved to New York after graduating to pursue an internship with the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations. Since then, she has worked with three different NGOs to promote sustainable development, climate justice, and education for youth in rural South Africa. Her main academic and professional interests lie in the realms of Space Policy and Environmental Policy. She will be starting her Master’s in International Science and Technology Policy at the Elliott School in the fall.

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

In addition to finding a job I am passionate about, meeting inspiring people within the academic and policy communities, and visiting some of the most relevant U.S. and international organizations in the world, I would also like to find a new home where I can plant a garden.

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

I am nervous about retraining my attention span to keep up with the numerous long and dense academic readings.

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

I am looking forward to learning from experts in the field I am passionate about, as well as sharing knowledge and experiences with my future colleagues. I am eager to take advantage of the various opportunities offered by the Elliott School of International Affairs and the Space Policy Institute, including events with prominent political leaders, site visits, and career-networking panels.

If you could design your own flag, what would it look like?

My flag would have a green background like the Brazilian flag, because that’s where I’m from. It would be striped like the American flag because that’s where my new home is. And it would have planet Earth in the center, because ultimately I consider myself to be a citizen of the world, and because from space you can’t really see borders.

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.

#TuesdayTips: Getting to Know DC

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As we get closer to the start of the Fall 2018 semester, you’ll want to know what’s around Elliott (19th & E) so you can keep yourself entertained while you’re on or around campus!

When you need a break:

When you need some food:

  • District House: This place has something for everyone: a Chik-fil-A, Sol Mexican Food, Wiseguys Pizza and more! It can get pretty busy during the semester, but luckily there’s also plenty of food trucks…
  • Food Truck Fiesta: DC has seen the food truck scene get pretty wild, and there are always trucks set up around campus. If you aren’t near the library or at the metro, the closest line of food trucks to the Elliott building is near the State Department on Virginia Ave. Some ESIAGrad office favorites include Far East Taco, Alexa’s Fried Chicken, and Captain Cookie.
  • Whole Foods: The Whole Foods on Campus (22nd & I) has a hot food bar for noodles, sandwiches, pizza, and just about anything else your heart could desire. There’s also a bar with beers on tap or you can choose from their loose bottles. There’s tons of seating inside and a little patio around the entrance, great for people watching!

When you need to get there:

  • WMATA: If you haven’t already, you’ll want to download a DC metro app (i.e  iTransDC) so you know where everything is at and how it’s connected. If you don’t live near a metro station, MetroBus is the best way to get around for $2 and free transfers for up to 2 hours. Apps like Moovit are great for knowing when the next bus/metro is on it’s way and walking/biking distances!
  • Rideshare services: Temporary ride services like Car2Go and Maven let you use a car only when you need it. Car2Go has a fleet of Smartcars and Mercedes-Benz sedans and SUV’s for you high rollers that you rent by the minute, hour, or day. And you don’t have to pay for parking!
  • Capital Bikeshare:  If you don’t already have a bike with gears (beach cruisers won’t work in this town), a membership with Capital Bikeshare lets you make free, 30-min one way trips anywhere in the city. If your trip is longer than 30 min, just dock at a station, get a new bike, and start a new trip! They also have an app for finding bikes and empty docks, unless you don’t like to be limited by them, in which case, try out…
  • Dockless transport: DC has been inundated with dockless transportation options in the past year, including dockless bike start-ups including, LimeBikeSpin (which just added a fleet of dockless scooters that move up to 15 miles per hour), and JUMP, which actually has an engine in it! For more info on each, check out this sweet WaPo article reviewing them all!

#IncomingElliott: Andrea Bolognesi

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Andrea Bolognesi was born and raised as an only child in Cuveglio, a small town in Northern Italy by Lake Maggiore. He lived there until the age of 18, practicing swimming his entire life. Halfway through his high school senior year, he moved to the city of Como and was transferred to a new swim team. Upon graduation, he pursued his academic and athletic goals in Monaco, where he graduated from the International University of Monaco with a Bachelor in Business Administration, while swimming for the local club team and the Monegasque national team. In 2015, he decided to start all over again with a BS in Economics from GW, where he also competed for the varsity team. He spent the past year working at the Financial Services Roundtable in DC and will begin his MA in International Trade & Investment Policy this fall.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience so far?

A very rewarding academic experience so far has been writing my Proseminar in Economics’ research paper. The amount of time and effort invested in this project, as well as the attention to details and the pursuit of perfection, contributed to producing a truly gratifying outcome. I believe, however, that my college life as a student-athlete still deserves the greatest deal of credit among the most rewarding experiences I’ve lived so far due to the useful lessons learned, the memories and the amazing people met along the path to graduation.

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

I have already spent the past three years in the area and I can ensure that it has been fun. The DMV area provides plenty of opportunities in a wide range of fields, even for foreigners, thanks to the high density of international organizations and embassies in the city. The life in the District is not hectic and, despite the high affluence of tourists, you can easily choose to either take a nap on the grass at the mall or visit the free museums around the city. The nightlife in DC is exciting while not too buttoned-down. There are a ton pubs and sports bars that you can have fun at without worrying about not looking like David Beckham at the royal wedding. But there are also some interesting options for a fancy night out.

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

I’m going to visit my family and spend the next two months in the motherland, Italy. In my time there I will try to train and race for my club team in a few meets, after more than a year without competing. I also want to travel a lot while I’m there. I plan on spending about a week in Monaco to visit some friends from college, travel across the most touristy Italian cities with a visiting friend from GW and either tour some Greek islands or European cities with my parents. It sounds like a lot is on the agenda, but we’ll see what I actually end up doing there!

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I would say Ben McKenzie. Mainly because he’s short.

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: Lori Lui

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Lori Lui was born in Hong Kong and raised in Beijing, China until she was seven before her family moved to northern New Jersey. She earned a dual-degree from GW in 2013 in Environmental Studies and Geography along with a minor in Geographical Information Systems. In the last six years, she’s interned and worked at the Association of American Geographers, Chemonics International, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, as well as the World Wildlife Fund, where she currently works. Through work opportunities and colleagues, she has been exposed to the world of sustainable development and food security. When not working, she loves cooking and exploring new cuisines, practicing Muay Thai, reading, volunteering at clean-ups, and traveling the world on a budget. She will begin her MA in Asian 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?

While growing up, my Dad was a huge influence on me when it came to my curiosity about the environment, conservation, and providing a voice for species/things that have no voice. I would also be lying if my continuous binging of Pocahontas as a kid did not push me towards sustainability as well. After earning my Bachelors, I started working at the World Wildlife Fund in DC researching and analyzing environmental, social, and economic risk factors in agricultural production and sourcing utilized by companies in their supply chains. My research contributed heavily to my decision to go back to school to further understand food security and human rights with a conservation lens in Asia.

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

I am looking forward to engaging lectures and discussions with professors and driven like-minded peers. I’m also excited to stretch myself mentally and explore new topics.

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

I have been living in DMV for the past seven years now, so I consider myself to be somewhat of a local. However, I am nervous about balancing a full-time work and class schedule and possibly giving up my happy hours with friends and colleagues.

If someone was writing a biography about your life so far, what would the title be?

What’s Cooking, Ma?

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.

#TuesdayTips: Plan of Study


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The Elliott School Plan of Study outlines the courses you will take as part of your MA program. Depending on the program, you will have different requirements and options for concentrations. To see what your required courses are and concentrations available within your program, visit your program page and click on “Program of Study” near the top.You do not need to complete this now and please do not send us your Plans of Study. You will be contacted by your Program Director and Advising when it’s your time to turn it in!

Around September/October, you’ll be contacted by your Program Director and Academic Advisor to arrange for a 1-1 meeting to discuss your Plan of Study, which outlines all of the classes you expect to take to reach your credit threshold for a degree. Depending on whether you are a full-time or part-time student, you’re able to make changes to this plan, even after it’s submitted.

If you want to get a head start, we encourage you to view the Plan of Study for your program here. Questions about your plan? Contact your academic advisor!

To reiterate, you do not need to complete this now and please do not send us your Plans of Study. You will be contacted by your Program Director and Advising when it’s your time to turn it in!


#IncomingElliott: Jared Awner

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Jared Awner was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Rockville, Maryland until moving to Connecticut where he enlisted and served the Military Intelligence Corps of the US Army as a Human Intelligence Collector. After eight years he left the service to complete his BA in International Studies from the University of Miami, including a semester abroad at Charles University in the Czech Republic, and with minors in English Literature, History, and Religious Studies. While assisting members of the University of Miami UHealth community reach their fitness goals and assimilating to civilian life, he also served as the Veteran Student Senator in Student Government, introducing a number of projects to better assist student Veterans to succeed at the University. His passion for human intelligence, interaction, and collaboration alongside the intelligence community is the driving factor behind his studies. He will be starting his Master’s in Security Policy Studies this fall at the Elliott School.

What made you interested in your MA program of choice? 

When I first heard about the Elliott School, I was instantly hooked. It’s reputation amongst the top-rated universities in capital IR, its faculty, alumni network, location, everything. But what most attracted me to the MA program in Security Policy Studies was the close relationship between its curriculum and my role as a Soldier in the Army. When you hold a significant position for an extended period of time, it is not one that you easily forget. Therefore, I hoped to utilize the knowledge I gain through the Elliott School and the Security Policy Studies program to further enhance my current understanding of national, international, and transnational security while gaining new knowledge as to how our government develops policies for particular issues or problems encountered.

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

While I do intend on developing my understanding of international affairs and how our government operates, the skills I hope to progress the most include my ability to speak publicly, my ability to conduct meaningful research utilizing the tools and resources the Elliott School will provide me access to, ***time management, and lastly, but certainly not least, I would like to further develop my ability to speak competently about subjects that are very significant to our nation’s current and future position in the global arena.

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

My summer bucket list before going to the Elliott School consists of, like many of my fellow students, saving every penny I can muster so that I can move my household goods in a timely and efficient manner into my new apartment that, fingers crossed, I am approved for. Once I settle down, I intend on exploring the Washington D.C. area a little bit (I was told the food options compare to those in NYC), reconnect with early childhood friends who still live in the DMV region, continue researching internship and job opportunities and maybe, attend a few of the many job fairs I frequently receive notifications about.

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

I get asked this question all the time, and it never gets easier. But if I to choose just ONE city outside of the US that people should visit, it would definitely be Luxor, the location of the Valley of the Kings and ancient Thebes to the Greeks in Egypt. It is absolutely stunning and is one of the best and most well-preserved outdoor museums anywhere on the planet.

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.