#IncomingElliott: Paula Allecia Jones

#IE Jones

Paula “Allecia” Jones will be a first-year masters candidate in the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies program at the Elliott School, with specializations in Economic Development and Security. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Area Studies with two minors in Spanish and Latin American studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2019. She studied in Puebla, Mexico, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while there she interned with local non-profits. In the summer of 2018, she interned in the Santo Domingo Embassy’s Regional Security Office. She participated with the Roni K. Irani Center for Creating Economic Wealth on a team with four interns consulting for an Oklahoma non-profit. She is a 2019 Charles B. Rangel Fellow and will be interning in the House of Representatives during the summer. Allecia enjoys most outdoor activities, camping, hiking, and hammocking. She is excited to spend the next two years exploring D.C. and connecting with the graduate community.

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#IncomingElliott: Zac Hamlin

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Zac Hamlin has a BA in Global Affairs & Spanish from George Mason University. After graduation, he went to Brazil to do volunteer work for six months but soon fell in love with the country and made it his home for the last eight years. As an advocate for social change, he founded a volunteer agency, JIVE, that took care of and placed foreign volunteers from around the world in skill-specific projects that matched their abilities and interests. He worked closely with around 15 NGOs operating in marginalized neighborhoods in the city of Rio de Janeiro, in areas such as health promotion, construction of houses, sports, English lessons, and childcare. He is excited to return to the United States to pursue his MA in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies and deepen his knowledge of the region.

What’s on your bucket list when you get to DC?

It’s been a while since I’ve lived in the US, so I want to enjoy reconnecting with old friends and family that are in the area.

Is there anything about moving to DC/starting grad school that you’re nervous about?

I have been out of school for a while, so I was nervous about going back. I was worried that the workload would be too much and it would be hard to get into the routine of studying and working simultaneously.

What are you looking forward to about starting your MA program?

I’m excited to meet the faculty and other students in my program. I hope to learn more about Latin America through their own experiences in the region.

What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?

Attentive, inquisitive and driven

The #IncomingElliott series highlights incoming Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. 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. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Elliott Burgess

#WAE_ BurgessElliott Burgess is a first-year master’s student in the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at the Elliott School concentrating on anthropology and geography. He received his bachelor’s degree in International relations and French and Francophone Studies from Florida International University in 2018. Elliott has a passion for language and travel. He speaks fluent English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, and has an intermediate command of Italian, Mandarin and Haitian Creole. He has lived and worked throughout the US in Ohio, Texas and Florida, as well as in France and China. Elliott has experience teaching and interpreting and has an interest in language acquisition, cultural anthropology as well as relations within the African diaspora in Latin America, specifically in Cuba and Brazil. Elliott has been to 26 countries, and in his free time, he enjoys running, photography, trying new foods and singing in different languages.  

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Application Tips: M.A. Latin American and Hemispheric Studies


Latin America is a paradox. This vibrant region is home to significant advances in human rights, a substantial expansion of female and indigenous political representation, imaginative urban designs and creative solutions to ecological challenges. It is also marked by high levels of poverty and inequality, corruption, fragile institutions, and violence, gangs, and drug and organized-crime cartels. “We have not had a moment’s rest,” is how Gabriel García Márquez summed up  – Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that embraces more than 20 sovereign states and several territories and dependencies. The aim of the Masters in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies is to enable students to develop a deep and broad understanding of the region and its trials and contributions. Simultaneously, the program prepares them for careers in government, multinational and nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, or post-graduate academic work. Grounded by the expertise of GW’s faculty and selected practitioners in the field, the program combines rigorous academics with a professional orientation.

M.A. Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Curriculum

LAHSP’s interdisciplinary program offers a flexible curriculum that comprises core courses and two specialized fields selected in consultation with the Program Director according to each student’s interests. After enrolling, students may choose any two specialization fields below:

Art History, Literature, and Culture
Economic Development
Global Public Health
International Business
Political Science

M.A. Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Application: Fall 2019

Academic coursework in Spanish, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*, must be shown at the time of application. This can be demonstrated by:

  • Study that is equal to four semesters of university-level coursework or equivalent.
  • Completion of formal language training as part of employment (ex. Peace Corps, JET, etc.) .
  • Growing up in a household where the language is spoken.

Other foreign languages spoken in Latin America will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Meeting the Language Requirement: In the case that you cannot show language proficiency via coursework, applicants may indicate native proficiency or by having a professor or tutor indicate in writing how many semesters of coursework your training is equivalent to. Alternately, you may also consider submitting a letter from your employer, providing information and confirming completion of formal language training programs that you’ve participated in. Please note that in some cases, admissions may require additional supporting documentation not listed above.

*Students need to have a strong foundation in a foreign language at the time of application and before enrolling, to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program.

Application Tips

Review all Application Requirements.  The more knowledge you have about the application process, the more successful you will be as an applicant. Click here to start your application!

1. Upload your documents in PDF format in the correct orientation. Please don’t upload sideways or upside down transcripts, be sure all pages appear upright after uploading to your application. Unofficial transcripts are accepted, but please do not upload certified, encrypted, or password-protected files or files in.png, .jpeg, or .html format.

2. Understand the requirements of the program in which you are interested in applying for. Save yourself from spending $80 on an application for a program you’re not eligible to apply to by looking for the “Prerequisites” section of each program page.

3. Make sure your transcripts have all the necessary info. We accept official and unofficial transcript uploads for the graduate application. All transcripts must include:

  • Name of the applicant,
  • The name of the institution,
  • All coursework (name of courses),
  • Grades for each course,
  • Transcript legend/grading scale, and
  • Proof of earned degrees from each institution you’ve attended (Degree Conferral).

More info on transcript requirements, including requirements on transcripts from foreign institutions, can be found on our website under the “Transcripts” tab.

4. Submit your fee waiver request early. Fee waivers take 1-2 business days to be reviewed and can only be approved at the time of application. If an applicant submits an application and pays the fee, without selecting the fee waiver payment method, the fee cannot be refunded. Check our website for more info under the “Application/Fee” tab.

5. Read the emails our office sends you. Often there are follow up questions that are answered in the email or it may contain other important information relevant to your application.

6. Elliott is spelled with two L’s and two T’s!!!

7. All Elliott School graduate programs are test optional. This means that GRE scores are not required as part of the application to any of our graduate programs.

8. There are 2 deadlines for the fall 2019 application cycle: January 7th if you want to be considered for funding and February 1 to be considered for admission only. Applications submitted after January 7th are not eligible to be considered for funding!

Still have questions? Let us know!
The Office of Graduate Admissions
1957 E. St NW, Suite 301
Washington, D.C. 20052

#ElliottProud: David Okun

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David Okun works at the U.S. Department of State as a Country Officer in the Office of Children’s Issues, where he assists families in the aftermath of international child abductions and formulates bilateral and multilateral foreign policy recommendations. He earned an M.A. in Latin American & Hemispheric Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, where he focused on the nexus of security and economic development in Latin America and Colombia in particular. Prior to grad school, David entered public service as a dual-language elementary school teacher in North Texas through Teach For America. David holds bachelors degrees in Spanish and International Affairs from the University of Georgia.  Outside of work, David sings in a Washington, D.C.-based men’s a cappella group.

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#ElliottProud: Francesco De Simone

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Francesco De Simone is the Modernization of the State Specialist in Kingston, Jamaica for the International Development Bank (IDB) and previously served as the Technical Advisor and Administrator of the IDB Transparency Fund. Francesco has Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Universitá Orientale in Naples, Italy, and received his Master’s in Latin American & Hemispheric Studies from the Elliott School in 2009. He has published on a variety of topics, from anti-corruption practices of donors to transparency policies in the education sector, and from international laws against bribery to procurement monitoring strategies. Before joining the IDB, Francesco worked at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center, in Bergen, Norway, Transparency International (TI) in the U.S., the Office of the Italian Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and as a KYC investigator in the private sector.

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#ElliottProud: Jenna Ben-Yehuda

Blog_ #EP Ben-Yehuda

Jenna Ben-Yehuda has nearly twenty years of combined experience working with diplomatic, defense, and development stakeholders in government, the private sector, think-tanks and academic communities. She has developed programming for former Secretary of State Clinton and accompanied her on foreign travel, led intelligence briefings for and traveled with Secretary Powell, written for President Obama and five Secretaries of State, and represented the State Department in numerous interagency fora, including at the National Security Council. As Vice President of the foreign affairs practice of Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, a public sector management consulting firm, Jenna manages a global network of diverse teams in support of clients at the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and lead foreign affairs business development efforts. A Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Co-Chair of CFR’s Term Member Advisory Committee, Jenna is the recipient of five State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards and serve as Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. In 2014, Jenna founded the Women’s Foreign Policy Network, an international network of more than 3,000 women in international security, business, and development whose mission is to advance women’s participation in foreign affairs. She is also the co-author of the #metoonatsec Open Letter to the national security community to combat sexual harassment and assault and a frequent media contributor on women’s leadership and national security.

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