Alyssa Bayne is a second-year Masters candidate in the Security Policy Studies program at the Elliott School, concentrating in U.S. national security. She received her bachelor’s degree in international studies at American University in 2018 where she studied abroad in Brussels, Belgium. Particularly, she is interested in military deterrence, transatlantic security cooperation, and US/NATO relations. She just completed the summer internship program with the Department of State in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. During the school year, she works on campus as an Assistant Manager at the GW Lerner Health and Wellness Center.
What inspired you to select your program/concentration at the Elliott School?
From a young age, I knew that I wanted to have a career where I could help protect people. After my undergraduate study abroad program in Brussels, I realized that I wanted to achieve that goal by specializing in security issues with the hope of being able to work in national security. The Security Policy Studies program (SPS) was the perfect way for me to get a master’s degree in my particular area of interest while being a part of the larger Elliott School of International Affairs. In alignment with my goals, I chose to specialize in US National Security because I come from a military family and wanted to focus specifically on military-related security issues.
What has been your most challenging academic experience (i.e., in-class, with an institute/office, at an Elliott sponsored on/off-campus event) at the Elliott School and how did you overcome it?
So far, the most challenging academic experience I’ve had in several classes was learning how to write concisely. In many of my classes, my assignments would be to complete short memos, normally 1-2 pages in length, as opposed to a longer final paper. While it may seem like less work, it can often be more difficult to condense writing that to elaborate in a longer paper. I was able to overcome this by using the writing center in the library to ensure my points were clear, by working with my professors to get constructive feedback, and by getting tips from my fellow classmates.
What resources (online or offline) or strategies have proven to be most helpful in helping you reach career success?
The Graduate Student Services Office (GSS) office is a lifesaver. I went my first semester I was at GW and they helped me extensively with academic planning, resume development, and searching for internships. The Handshake job and internship portal is also extremely helpful and was how I found my on-campus job. Lastly, recommendations from fellow Elliott students have been helpful in navigating all of the options available in DC and knowing when important deadlines for different agencies are. Once I got my internship with the state department, friends and classmates who had also had that experience gave me great advice on how to do well during my time there.
Now that you’re a graduate student, what do you wish you knew during the graduate application process?
When selecting a program, it’s important to look at what the core requirements are, especially when it comes to math or economics classes. Some programs require them while others don’t and they can be extremely difficult for some people, especially if its been a while since you have last taken them. It’s important to look for a program that is a good fit for your interests, but also considers your possible time constraints while in school.
If you could bring any food from abroad to D.C., what would you bring?
If I could bring any food from abroad to DC I would definitely bring lefse. It’s a traditional Norwegian dessert that my grandmother makes, and it is amazing. It is a flatbread, similar to a crepe, and you put cinnamon and sugar on top. It is absolutely delicious.
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. Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!
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