Andrea Bair is a recent graduate of the M.A in Security Policy Studies program at the Elliott School of International Affairs, with a concentration in Transnational Security. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2021 with a degree in World Politics, minoring in International Development and Political Economy and she also studied abroad in Brussels to take courses in European Security and European Union Politics. At MSU she worked extensively in student advocacy as the Chief of Staff at Associated Students of Michigan State University. Recently, Andrea has held internships for the Partnership for Public Service and the Department of State Office of European Union & Regional Affairs, and currently works as a Contract Specialist for the US Navy. Her interests include environmental security and intelligence, and she was recently named as a 2023 finalist for the Presidential Management Fellows program.
What was your favorite experience at the Elliott School so far and why?
My favorite experience so far at the Elliott School has been meeting my fellow students at Security Policy Studies Happy Hour events. We are all young professionals trying to navigate new careers together and these have been so helpful for me to learn from other experiences, learn about opportunities I would have never heard of elsewhere, and learn about the happenings of our academic program. The people I have met at the Elliott School have made the experience all the more impactful, and I have made some friends along the way.
What courses have you found most helpful in your work experiences and how have they been useful?
My Transnational Security course with Prof. Rollie Lal was extremely helpful because it introduced me to a diverse set of issues in the world of security studies I had never considered before and challenged me to think about solutions for these issues. The practice of proposing policies at the end of each class to a presented case study was a wonderful learning experience and encouraged me to consider flaws in current policy responses to security threats while also thinking outside of the box for potential solutions of my own. Prof. Lal also would offer counterarguments to our policy suggestions. She is such a great professor I recommend her to all my classmates and I was also in her capstone section.
Describe the pros and cons of being a full-time versus part-time student at the Elliott School.
Being a full-time student while also working full-time was challenging but also a learning experience in time management and prioritization. Admittedly, my wonderful family, friends, and fiancé have been a huge support in me being able to balance all of this, and I am very grateful to them. There are times I have had to miss out on the more social or fun aspects of living in Washington DC, but I know that focusing my education and career now will pay off in the future. Having a career in public service is my goal, and hard work is how I intend to accomplish it. It’s not an impossible task if any other students are looking to do it in the future, I just encourage you to be organized and ask for help if you are struggling.
What resources have proven to be the most valuable in helping you achieve success at the Elliott School?
The most helpful resource the Elliott School has is their amazing faculty. Every professor I had was professional and knowledgeable. They have been extremely flexible to the challenges of my full schedule, and they also have been very encouraging to students pursuing topics in their coursework that interest with them by offering their time and advice outside of the classroom. They have expansive networks all over the world of people working in the types of careers that Elliott School students aspire to, and an interest in setting you up for that success.
What advice do you have for prospective students who are comparing a graduate program at the Elliott School with other DC grad schools?
When I was choosing a program for myself, I placed a lot of value on the people I met during admissions events, and I found the Elliott School to be the most helpful, transparent, and knowledgeable on their admissions process and the career prospects after graduation. I also appreciated their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within their admissions process.
What is the last show or movie that you really enjoyed and why?
I recently watched some older seasons of Survivor because I am rewatching the series. I heard the newer seasons are pretty good, and it is crazy to me that there are over 40 seasons! I love reality competition shows and Survivor is so interesting to me because the idea is so simple, but every season has such different characters that come on the island with similar strategies that can play out so different from season to season. I also think I have learned some serious negotiation skills from the show!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.