#WeAreElliott: Bilguissa Sow

Bilguissa Sow is a second year Masters candidate in the International Development Studies program at the Elliott School, concentrating in Democracy & Governance. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political science and International Studies at Towson University in 2016. Since graduation she has been working in the field of national security, however, her deep passion for international affairs redirected her to pursue a career in international development. Bilguissa also has experience working with nonprofit organizations focused on education and microfinancing. She hopes that her graduate degree from Elliot will further propel her into a career in international affairs.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

I have always had a passion for international affairs, particularly working in development. I spent the first years of my life in Guinea, West Africa, and then moved to Maryland. My experiences in Guinea gave me deep feeling of wanting to give back and be a part of the country’s development, and the continent’s as a whole. Nonetheless, I was discouraged to pursue a career in international development and thus ended up working in counterterrorism/national security. After 3 years in that field, I realized that my true fulfillment will only come from a career in development, and so I decided to pursue my master’s degree in international development.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I currently work for government contactor. It is far removed from my career goal; however, it has given me professional skills that will benefit me wherever I go. I am hoping to be able to transition into the development field after graduation.

What tools/strategies have proved most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School?

The mostly useful resource to me at Elliott has been my classmates. The IDS program has a group chat where we share useful information on any and everything program related.

What advice do you have for students for staying motivated at work or in class?

My advice for staying motivated would be to pick classes that genuinely interest you, and professors that challenge you to be your best. So far, I have been lucky to have had great professors who make the 2 + hours of class time fly by and keep me motivated to be my best. I also like to join as many webinars that discuss topics in my field as possible to keep me informed and motivated to work towards starting my career in development.

If you could take a selfie with anyone in the world (living), who would it be and why?

Recently, I have had a slight obsession with Stacey Abrahams of Georgia. I just totally admire her ability to use her campaign loss into a motivating factor for focusing her work on making sure the system works better for the next person. I always admire people who pick themselves up and look for solutions instead of complaining.


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The #WeAreElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, 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.