#IncomingElliott: Aurelie Kiamana

#IE Kiamana

Aurelie Kiamana graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration of Governance, Conflict, and Resolution from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2019. During her time at the University of Illinois, Aurelie studied abroad in Paris, France. While in Paris, Aurelie was able to research durable development while specifically focusing on the importance of water in healthy cities especially in Paris’ Self-Cleaning Sanisettes. She also participated in a sustainable development project that highlighted the value of world resources and multiple usages of a resource/product. Aurelie just finished working as a Legal Assistant at a law firm that specialized in health care revenue cycle, creditor’s rights, family law, personal injury, and criminal defense. Aurelie will be a first-year Masters’s candidate at the Elliott School in the International Development Studies program. 

Is your grad program related to your undergraduate degree? I

My graduate program in International Development Studies with a concentration in Democracy and Governance is an extension of my undergraduate degree. My undergraduate degree was in Global Studies with a concentration in Governance, Conflict, and Resolution. My ultimate goal is to help address development problems in less developed counties and among marginalized communities. Both programs allow me to study various topics that pertain to the economic world such as diplomacy, negotiation, and governmental accountability and transparency to help me to achieve that goal. Another similar aspect in both programs is the language component. In order to complete my undergrad degree, I choose French as my language. I will continue with French and hope to also master another language. Both programs have many aspects that are similar. My grad program will also allow me the opportunity to determine the course of my studies. I believe that the master’s in International Development Studies is a continuation of my education from my undergrad degree and will provide me with more skills to achieve my goals.

What are you most looking forward to about grad school? What are you most nervous about?

There are many different aspects that I am looking forward to about grad school. One of those aspects is being surrounded by people who are also interested in the same topics as me! People will have a different approach to the same topic and I want to hear them. From my research, the Elliott School provides many different opportunities in my field of study. The more I know about my program the more excited I get to begin in the fall. The Elliott School will also help enhance my skills to achieve my goals. I am most nervous about moving. I have moved away from my family lots of times, but each time I am still nervous! The Elliott School is in an unbeatable and perfect location in DC. My nervousness goes away when I remind myself each time that I am going to study a topic that is very important to me.

What 3 things would you like to be known for after you complete your program?

One of the things I want to be known for after I complete my program is my ability to adapt to changes. The Development field is changing every day. I am willing to always learn more information if possible. Having different perspectives and solutions help shape the way that we think every day. If this means changing the way that I am doing something, I am up for the challenge.

The second thing I want to be known for is a positive change. My ultimate goal is to help address development problems in less developed counties and among marginalized communities. I want to help people create positive changes in their own communities and their adopted communities as well. We live in a world where people are moving from place to place. People’s communities constantly changing and my goal is to help them change it for the better.

The last thing I want to be known for is my leadership skills. I have spent a great quality of time improving my leadership skills. I have taken courses, programs, and created a Personal Development Plan. I want my grad program to help me gain even more tools to help people create communities in which they love.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program?

I chose to commit to the Elliott School for my graduate program because of the flexibility of the International Development Studies program. My programs allow me to choose from a multitude of specializations and lets me combine specializations if I choose. This is important to me because I get to take the classes that I am specifically interested in. These courses will boost my skills. Many of the people at the Elliott School come from unique backgrounds. This brings many different perspectives together. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by different perspectives since I have lived in Africa, Europe, and America. The second reason that I choose Elliott School is because of the location. Ever since I first came to DC in 2016, I knew that I wanted to live here in the future! It is also the perfect place to study International Development. There are many conferences and events that happen in DC that pertain to Development.

What are you most looking forward to doing after social distance requirements are lifted?

The one thing I am looking forward to doing after social distancing is lifted is spending time with my friends and family. Since graduating from college, my friends have moved all over the country and globally. It has been hard to see them since social distancing rules are different for each state. I will be moving from Illinois to D.C., so being able to see some of my friends and family before I leave is very important to me. It may be some time before I am able to see them face to face again. I am very appreciative that tools like Facetime and Zoom are available. I have been using them a lot during the last couple of months. It will also be nice to have a lunch/dinner date once or twice with them. I love trying new foods and places to eat especially with my friends and family. I am willing to try anything at least once. You never know what you are missing until you try it!


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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

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.