Sherilyn Harrington is a second year Master’s student in the M.A. Global Communication program with a concentration in Public Diplomacy. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Linfield University in Oregon, she worked in refugee resettlement in Vancouver, WA, spent time in Ukraine with the Fulbright Program, and was a Program Officer with WorldOregon working on the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. She currently has an interest in the intersection of public diplomacy and anti-disinformation initiatives. Recently, she worked with GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication on the Distinguished Humphrey Fellowship, facilitating an international exchange for journalists and media professionals from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
What has been your favorite experience at the Elliott School so far and why?
My favorite experience at the Elliott School has been the opportunities to connect with faculty members from a variety of backgrounds. It is not uncommon to have a class taught by a diplomat or professional with practical experience in their field. In every class, I have been able to find parallels between my work experience and the content I am studying academically—faculty are able to provide real-world examples to concepts that would otherwise be more abstract. Professors also frequently invite guest speakers into their classes to discuss their careers with students. Not only does this provide a great opportunity for students to learn more from a professional in a given field, but it opens a dialogue that can enable future networking opportunities.
What courses have you found most helpful in your work/intern/volunteer experiences and how have they been useful? (Haven’t worked? Answer this: Describe your dream job and how the Elliott School fits into your path to get there)
I have already learned so much from my courses at the Elliott School. Research Design, a required course for Global Communication students with Dr. Catie Bailard, was challenging but also incredibly rewarding. I developed a very strong grasp of research methodology that I am looking forward to applying to my Capstone project and my career. Leadership & Teamwork with Dr. Diane Forbes Berthoud was also a highly valuable course that gave a very comprehensive workshop to learn teambuilding, consensus-building, and conflict resolution techniques that was highly applicable to the workplace. I felt I had gained stronger insight into how to hone my leadership skills in both measurable and personalized ways.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Washington DC area?
The Washington DC area has a fantastic international and cultural scene. There is always a new restaurant, museum, or event to discover. The Metro makes it simple to travel to new neighborhoods and get a feel for different environments. It’s also a great place to take a class or learn a new skill even outside of grad school. I live near Rock Creek Park, which helps bring a bit of nature into the urban environment of DC. Being able to easily take a hike in the woods or have a picnic with friends makes time in DC even more enjoyable!
Being in the heart of DC is also incredibly advantageous for GW students from all over the DMV. Being close to multiple Metro lines in Foggy Bottom, the professional opportunities are unparalleled.
What resources or strategies have proven to be the most valuable in helping you reach success at the Elliott School?
I use a few different digital platforms to manage my class materials. Notion has been my favorite tool to prioritize my assignments and their deadlines. I pull all information from each syllabus to have a very clear idea of what to expect for the semester ahead. Having a GW Google account also helps: I log deadlines with Google Calendar and save all assignments to Drive. When working on assignments, I use Zotero to manage references and citations. This has saved me a lot of time when putting together a bibliography.
In terms of offline strategies, I have found reaching out to GW’s faculty to be extremely helpful. Professors are always willing to give feedback on student work while it’s in-progress, or help brainstorm a paper topic. As someone who had been out of school for a period of time between my undergrad degree and grad school, I also had to readjust to being in the academic world again. Luckily, professors were always helpful and patient when I had questions. Additionally, Elizabeth Lusk in Graduate Student Services has always been so helpful in navigating the academic space—I don’t know what I would do without her!
What advice do you have for prospective students who are comparing a graduate program at the Elliott School with other DC grad schools?
I would encourage prospective students to take a very close look at the course offerings of different degree programs to determine a good fit for their interests and needs. Compared to other degree programs that feature a concentration on Public Diplomacy, I was drawn to the Elliott School’s approach, which was both specific and flexible enough to be tailored to my career needs. Program staff have always been so supportive in my pursuit of different topics, and I always look to them for guidance.
Another advantage that drew me to the Elliott School is the ability to take cross-departmental classes. I have been able to enroll in courses such as Dr. Kyle Long’s International Education & Public Diplomacy course at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and Dr. Michael Worth’s Governing & Managing Nonprofit Organizations course with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. The volume of courses that students can choose from is vast. I have had trouble narrowing down all the classes I want to take into just two years!
What city outside of the U.S. should people should visit and why?
Tbilisi, Georgia! There is so much history, culture, and beauty to be discovered in Georgia. A hike up to the Mother Georgia monument via the Betlemi Street Stairs at sunset, followed by a gondola ride down the mountain into the city, is one of the most special travel memories I have. The Georgian language is fascinating, the people are welcoming, and there is plenty to explore in the surrounding country as well. The food and wine were also spectacular, and I cannot wait to go back. In the meantime, a visit to Supra in DC will have to suffice!
Later on, when working with the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, I had the fortune of meeting journalists and media professionals from Georgia learning about disinformation through the Distinguished Humphrey Fellowship. It was a pleasure to be able to speak with them and learn more about Tbilisi and Georgia from the U.S.
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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 email@example.com.
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.