#WeAreElliott: Emily Allegrezza

Emily Allegrezza, MA Security Policy Studies, Class of 2022, #WeAreElliott Current Student

Emily Allegrezza is entering her second year as a Masters candidate in the Security Policy Studies program at the Elliott School, concentrating in U.S. National Security and focusing in the region of Africa. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science at Mississippi State University in 2020. Emily is interested in the intersection of African affairs and U.S. national security interests, especially in regards to illicit financial networks, extremism, trade, and technology. She recently completed an internship in the office of United States Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and is the current Program Director for the Political Action and Public Policy program at the National Student Leadership Conference. Emily enjoys traveling, cooking, and theatre.

When did you realize you wanted an international career? What led you to choose the Elliott School?

I did not realize that I wanted an international career until my freshman year of undergraduate studies, when I took classes taught by my former professor and mentor, Dr. Carolyn Holmes. Her courses on African politics and politics of the developing world broadened my perspectives, and I knew I wanted to work in international affairs. This was furthered by the parallels I saw between developing countries and my home state of Mississippi. While developing countries and Mississippi have many challenges, they also have a lot of potential, which is often underestimated. Navigating that potential and the intersection of U.S. and African interests for a more secure and free world has since become my life’s passion. When I saw the SPS program of study during my graduate school search, I knew this was the program that could teach me more and help me be most effective in my career.

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

At the end of April, I completed a semester-long internship with Senator Wicker (R-MS). A large part of why I wanted to intern in that office is because Senator Wicker is a co-chair of the Helsinki Commission. Throughout this internship, I mostly worked with the defense and foreign relations team. The opportunity to substantively help with policy making, memos, and diplomacy gave me lifelong skills I can use in a career in national security, on or off Capitol Hill. My favorite, and most substantial, legislation I helped on was S.319, the Democracy Dies in Darkness Act. This internship gave me a better understanding of legislative affairs and I know it will help me in my future endeavors.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience at the Elliott School and why?

My most rewarding academic experience has been being co-chair and member of the Security Policy Studies student board. That organization has connected me with faculty, students, and practitioners in the field. Hosting events like NATO: Off-the-Record: Talking Space with Sarah Terry, has given me organizational experience I can utilize in my career and taught me about subjects I do not have expertise in. Dr. Arturo Sotomayor has been especially helpful to the student board!

Describe the pros and cons of being a full-time/part-time student at the Elliott School

As a full-time student, I am able to complete my degree in two years and focus on my graduate education. It is nice to take several classes at the same time and think about the intersection of the course material. When I was not working full time, it was easy for me to manage my time to focus on school, but still have social interactions. Overall, I would recommend being a full-time student!

What advice do you have for incoming students who are starting to think about internship and work opportunities?

My advice for incoming students who are starting to think about internship and work opportunities is to avoid working both full-time and attending school full-time if possible. For the spring 2021 semester I interned full-time in addition to my full-time studies. While it was possible to handle the workload, it was very stressful and I would recommend choosing only one to be full time to avoid being overworked.

What 3 books should everybody read and why?

Three books everyone should read are Mighty Be Their Powers by Leymah Gbowee, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and Red Notice by Bill Browder. Mighty Be Their Powers is a firsthand account of the civil wars in Liberia from one of the leaders of the Women’s movement that helped the conflict end. Leymah Gbowee’s account of the conflict highlights the complexities of conflict resolution. Mighty Be Our Powers left me speechless. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a great read because it prompts readers to think about the consequences, both good and bad, of development. Red Notice by Bill Browder is a great background for Global Magnitsky Sanctions. The book is fantastic for anyone interested in Russia and international affairs from the perspective of a businessman-turned-advocate.


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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.