2017 Incoming Class: Mini Mohan


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Meet Mini (formally ‘Saudamini’) – First year MIPP student from Mumbai, India!

I earned my undergrad degree in Physics and thereafter got an MBA degree in Marketing and Finance in India. I have been working in Banking & Financial Services in Mumbai for a decade and my baptism by fire happened in the global financial crisis of 2007 🙂

My areas of focus at the Elliott School will be in Conflict Resolution, Regional Security Studies, and International Economic Policy. I hope to work for organizations like the World Bank, IMF and think tanks.

I love traveling as much as whipping up a mean chicken curry. New places, new sights and new experiences excite me. I feel travel is one of the best educations I have given myself. It’s helped me gain new perspectives about myriad things.

I gave up my job last fall to focus on getting into a school of my choice. Since then, I have been volunteering as a teacher/mentor to college students from economically disadvantaged families. I also managed to make a quick, fun-filled trip to South Africa in April. I have promised myself (fingers crossed!!!) a trip to a least one new country every year.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, yoga & meditation, running, and catching up with friends and family.

I’m super excited about getting back to school, exploring D.C., and meeting a whole bunch of new people 🙂

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

2017 Incoming Class: Cristina Guevara

CristinaGuevaraMeet Cristina – First year Global Communications student from Panama!

I was born in Panama City, Panama, to a Panamanian mother and Canadian father. From a young age, I witnessed a radical disparity between the city’s flourishing economy and the poverty plaguing the rest of the country. This extreme contrast made me eager to learn more about the causes and effects of injustice and corruption. My father, a political science professor and writer, read bedtime stories to me each night, sparking in me a great love for storytelling. My international awareness and passion for writing and visual arts have inspired me to pursue a career in communications with a focus on global affairs.

In December 2015, I graduated from Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana, with a double major in Communications and Psychology. I returned to Panama and worked in the TV industry for a few months, before deciding to take some time off to travel. I spent three months in Europe and then six in Sydney, Australia, where I received a contract to work at an advertising agency. The experiences I gained working in media left me feeling that there is more to learn and a greater need for an understanding of the issues pertaining to media ethics and the impact of globalization on communication.

When my contract in Sydney was up, I started thinking about graduate programs that could provide me with a better understanding of the economic, political, and cultural implications of effective communication. Washington D.C.’s location is unbeatable and ESIA’s M.A. in Global Communication offers an exciting and challenging curriculum. I am beyond thrilled to move to D.C. this fall and take advantage of everything this city has to offer.

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

2017 Incoming Class: Daniel McCarthy


Meet Daniel – First year Security Policy Studies student specializing in Energy Security.

I grew up in Idaho (potatoes ain’t the only thing we grow) and graduated from the University of Idaho in 2014 with a degree in International Studies and Spanish. During my undergrad, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Bilbao, Spain for two semesters. Needless to say, I caught the travel bug.

After my undergrad, I had no idea what I wanted to do and no good job prospects, so I said screw it, I’m going to China. I spent one month in Phnom Penh, Cambodia getting a TESOL certification. I then went to Zhongwei, China for a year and helped establish a new English language school. Being the only foreigner in the town, I got the full immersion experience.

My motto in life is “retire as early and often as possible,” so I retired from my teaching gig, and traveled around Asia for a few months. When I got back to the States I decided to come out of retirement (or unemployment as my parents liked to call it) and got a job at an advertising agency where I have been managing social media, making animated videos, and doing a little graphic design for the past year.

I will be retiring from this soon to pursue an MA at GWU where I hope to find my way into the Energy Security field. Specifically, I’m interested in how a sustainable and economic nuclear energy system can be developed to create new options for renewable energy sources. Simplifying the necessary nuclear energy infrastructure, reducing overall costs and enabling a safe, secure form of nuclear energy would allow all nations to quicken their pace of economic development and reduce poverty.

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

2017 Incoming Class: Hannah Dannenfeldt

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Having received her Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in conflict resolution at the Elliott School in May 2016, Hannah is excited to return this fall to pursue a Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies. Following graduation last May, she received a David L. Boren Fellowship to study Swahili both domestically and in Tanzania for the past year. As a Boren Fellow, Hannah also worked with a local Tanzanian NGO, which strives to reduce and prevent land conflict between pastoralists and farmers through village land-use planning. Through her study of Swahili, she has found a deep appreciation for language because of its ability to quickly foster trust and bring people together.

This summer, Hannah will be interning with Chemonics International in its Africa Security Management Unit, where she hopes to contribute her knowledge of Swahili to Chemonics’ development work. Upon returning to GWU, she is also excited to get involved in the work of the newly established Institute for African Studies. She is interested in a career in atrocity prevention having studied post-genocide restoration and reconciliation in Rwanda as well as interning at the United Nations Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect in New York City during her undergraduate studies. Hannah looks forward to being back in D.C. and reconnecting with the GWU community.

2017 Incoming Class: Steven Haines


Meet Steven – Incoming Asian Studies student concentrating in East Asia and International Security Policy.

My passion for China began my junior year at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). I was sitting in a history and culture of East Asia course when I was hit by a strong notion to study Mandarin. I walked out of class, made a beeline to UNR’s study abroad office, and applied for a two-year program in Chengdu, China. That summer, I moved to Taipei, Taiwan for an intensive Mandarin course and never looked back.

I spent the next seven years studying Mandarin and Sichuanese, living with my Chinese host family, and working in the global oil and gas industry.  After living in Chengdu and Singapore, I re-located to Houston, TX.  It wasn’t long before I was chomping at the bit to get back to Asia. When an opportunity presented itself to join a tech start-up and relocate back to Singapore, I decided to leave the oil and gas industry. Sadly, the company did what most start-ups do—it failed. This unexpected turn of events caused me to deeply consider what I wanted to do next. So, I decided to move to Washington DC to follow my passion for facilitating US-China relations.

I will be spending the summer working for a Beijing-based speakers’ bureau founded by two former White House officials, exercising (yes, I will need a workout partner when school starts), taking a summer skills course, spending time with my beautiful wife, exploring Virginia’s craft beer scene, catching a blockbuster or two, and binging on House of Cards Season 4.  I am excited for this fall and looking forward to meeting everyone.

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

2017 Incoming Class: Carlos De Castro Pretelt



Meet Carlos – Incoming Master’s in International Policy & Practice (M.I.P.P.) student from Columbia!

I was born and raised in the sunny coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia (same city were Shakira is from).  Upon completing high school, I migrated to the US with my father and we decided to settle in Hollywood, FL.  A few months following my arrival, I decided to explore and serve my new adoptive country, at the same time earning money for college, by enlisting in the US Armed Forces.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of attending a number of professional and academic institutions while discovering this great country and its people.  During my time in service, I’ve been tasked with a wide range of different occupations, lived all over the continental US, and explored five different countries.  Currently I am studying French to become a Foreign Area Officer with the hopes of furthering security cooperation with our partner nations while facilitating consensus building towards mutually beneficial goals.

I have chosen to attend George Washington University due to its prestigious history, superb academic programs, and location in the heart of our political system.  I will be attending the Masters of International Policy and Practice program and look forward to sharing the lessons in leadership I’ve gathered through years of professional military education and unique positions of responsibility.  At the end of the program, I hope to have mastered the interpersonal intricacies required to operate and succeed within a multinational environment.

In closing, I look forward to living in D.C., meeting some of my world-class peers (that could be you!), and learning about the different jobs, cultures, and interests.  If you see me walking around campus, don’t be afraid to say hi!

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

Recommended Apps for Incoming Grad Students

The Elliott School is very well connected; whether it be by the sidewalks to the World Bank and State or through our networks of peers and professors. One way to make sure you don’t miss out on important info is, conveniently, by using the device that’s normally in your hand anyway! Check out these apps to make your transition to grad life a little bit easier.

GW Mobile


The GW mobile app lets you access campus maps, staff and faculty directory, GW news and tons more! While you can access your GW email and calendar as well, given they based off a Google platform, I’d recommend downloading the Google Calendar app and adding your GW email to your Google Mail settings. Available for download on iOS & Android devices.



Blackboard will be the primary way that professors and peers contact you, and the app lets you view your courses as well as the syllabus and sometimes even the readings! (If the professor knows how to upload a PDF). A great way to keep up to date on class when you’re not in class, available for iOS & Android devices.



If you choose to buy a Capital Bikeshare membership, this app shows you the closest bike docks, how many bikes are available and how many spots are open. In my experience, it’s always up to date! Available for download on iOS & Android devices.

Google Docs


You may not know this yet, but you are going to use Google Docs a ton at Elliott. It’s one of the easiest ways to access your work from anywhere, especially when you’re collaborating with peers on a study guide. Since GW uses the Google suite (calendar, email, drive), the Docs app is a great way to update your work on the go for the days you forget (or don’t want to carry) your laptop. Available for download on iOS and Android devices.



FREE COFFEE!!!!! Seriously. There’s a 7-11 around the corner from Elliott and on top of every 7th cup being free, once a year, for a week in October, they give away coffee FOR FREE as long as you have the app! And who doesn’t love (and quite frankly, need) free coffee? Available for download on iOS and Android devices.

If you find other apps that you think would be helpful to your peers, share them with us at esiagrad@gwu.edu. Happy downloading!

Stay fly,


2017 Incoming Class: Esther Ongay-Gonzalez

Esther Ongay

Meet Esther – First year MA in International Development Studies from Mexico!

I have lived the past 11 years in Mexico City but I was raised in the small city of Xalapa.

During my BA in Political Science, I had the opportunity to have an exchange term in Ottawa. My favorite class there was Professor Stephen Augustine’s Aboriginal Peoples course. He was an awesome person who taught me about his culture – Mi’kmaq -, and expanded my understanding of the world.

I have been working in public policy think tanks since I graduated from my BA. In my last job I specialized on public budget and government accountability, both doing research and promoting government policy changes. Through this time, I had the chance to meet Congresswomen, public officials, and other think tank colleagues, and I even got some interviews on TV in a Bloomberg news program.

Before starting my life in DC, this summer I will travel to the South. I am planning to backpack with my girlfriend all the way from Colombia to Bolivia. I expect to meet new people there and do some wonderful sightseeing. I am really excited about it!

I have wanted to work to alleviate poverty since I was 12 and I feel that every step in my career has led me to start the International Development Studies Master program this Fall. I am delighted by the possibilities that I will have at GWU. I am looking forward to meeting other students, and dedicate the next two years of my life to learning as much as I can about development issues.

My plans involve coming back to Mexico to start an NGO or continue to work in think tanks doing analysis on inequality and poverty topics. I hope that the experiences to come will shape me on a deep level, and I will see what comes from there.

The 2017 Incoming Class Series highlights students starting a Master’s degree at the Elliott School in the Fall 2017 semester. The series will run from June through the beginning of the semester. For more information, contact esiagrad@gwu.edu.

Living in DC


So you’ve submitted the app, you GOT IN, and now for the big move to DC! The District was named the #4 best place to live in terms of metropolitan areas in the US, so you’ve pretty much hit the jackpot. But where to move? How much for rent? And what’s with the the weird area names? No worries, we’ve got your back! Here are some tips for looking for your next dojo in the DMV (Distict/Maryland/Virgina).

  1. Budget: Let’s face it, DC is great, but also pricey. Most students choose to live with roommates and rents on average range from about $900-$1,100/month (sometimes including utilities, sometimes not). If you find something between $800-$900, be cautious, but jump on it if it works for you! Looking to live alone? You’ll want to budget about $1,200+/month. And if you’re on the hunt for roommates, well, that’s what our Facebook page is for 🙂
  2. Don’t fear Craigslist, embrace it!: This is a great place to start your search for housing. You can narrow it down by price range, area, how many bathrooms you might need (maybe you need two, no judgement here!). The only thing to be weary of is an offer that looks too good to be true. Because $700/month in Chinatown IS too good to be true (and probably a scam…stay away!)
  3. CoHi? NoMa? What are these neighborhoods?: The District is split into 4 quadrants: NW, NE, SW, SE, each with their own distinct neighborhoods (Columbia Heights, Northern Market, Petworth, Bloomingdale, Adams Morgan to name a few). You really can’t go wrong with any of these places. However, students also live in places like Silver Spring MD and Arlington VA which are also metro accessible…speaking of which…
  4. What does metro accessible mean? Does it matter?: If you haven’t already, you’ll want to download a DC metro app (I like iTransDC) so you know where everything is at and how it’s connected. Luckily, if you don’t live near a metro station, MetroBus is the best way to get around for $1.85 and free transfers for up to 2 hours.
  5. But I have a car, forget public transport!: Hold up homie! Parking in DC is not cheap, and not all apartments or housing arrangements will coming with a parking space. If they do, you’ll have to pay for the permit that lets you park. On top of that, GW does not offer free parking to students, and if you’d like to park in the Elliott parking structure, you’ll be looking at $16 a day before 5pm or $12 after 5pm (keep in mind, all ESIA classes are after 5pm!). However….
  6. What’s with all the 2 person SmartCars?: 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’s (for you high rollers) that you rent by the minute, hour, or day. And you don’t have to pay for parking!
  7. I don’t wanna drive in DC, is there anything else besides walking? You could Segway! Or more realistically, consider investing in a Capital Bikeshare membership if you don’t already have a bike with gears (beach cruisers won’t work in this town, I learned the hard way!). You can make free, 30-min one way trips anywhere in the city (and if your trip is longer than 30 min, just dock at a station, get a new bike, and start a new trip!)

While this is by no means the definitive resource for moving to DC, taking these tips into account will hopefully make your transition to the Beltway a little better. Happy Moving!


Meet Lyndia!

Lyndia is the Executive Assistant in the Office of Graduate Student Career Development (GSCD) at the Elliott School! Originally from Lapeer, MI, Lyndia is a 2nd year MAIA student whose capstone project is on the trafficking of refugees and migrants in Italy. She likes to bike and play card games like euchre. Her favorite places in DC are Meridian Hill Park, especially on Sundays when there’s drum circles, and the Botanic garden. She also likes to dress up as story characters when going to the movies with her friends (like when they saw Jurassic world, see far left!)

Say hi to Lyndia! She’s in GSCD at Elliott! 🙂