Hilary Hambrick Taft is a Tennessee native who spent two years doing community development in rural Guatemala after graduating from Belmont University in 2013 with a degree in International Business. After teaching English and starting a social enterprise in Guatemala, she returned to Nashville to work in local government on issues related to poverty alleviation and workforce development. Most recently, she helped launch the city’s first Summer Youth Employment Program, employing thousands of Nashville’s youth in public and private sector jobs. Hilary loves spending her free time outside with her rescue pup, Bohemia, and is known to drink way too much coffee. She will be starting her MA in International Development Studies at the Elliott School this fall.
What’s on your bucket list when you get to DC?
I am most excited about visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on a random off-season weekday with no line of tourists. I also look forward to going to a Stanley Cup Champs hockey game- Go Caps! My last bucket list item would be eating at a Michelin star restaurant. I am obsessed with “Chef’s Table” on Netflix and DC is my first American city to live in with Michelin ratings.
Is there anything about moving to DC/starting grad school that you’re nervous about?
It has been five years since my undergraduate experience, so I am a little nervous about jumping into an academic rhythm of studying and test taking instead of my current 9am-5pm schedule. However, I am most nervous about my two-year-old, sixty-pound Labrador retriever adjusting to apartment and city life after only knowing wide-open spaces here in Tennessee. To prepare, we have spent the last few months practicing walking on sidewalks and leash training. I think she will do great!
What are you looking forward to about starting your MA program?
I am looking forward to being around like-minded individuals and learning from professors who are truly experts in their field. Some of my favorite memories are from my study abroad experience at a Kedge (formerly EuroMed) business school in southern France. I am eager to be in a classroom again with passionate folks from all over the world. Finally, I hope I am able to utilize my Spanish language skills at the Elliott school. My current job is English-only so I have had to find other outlets for Spanish, like teaching ESL at Conexión Américas, a local non-profit. I am excited to plug into student associations and volunteer groups at GW with international members.
If you could design your own flag, what would it look like?
If I could design my own flag, it would have a little piece of all the places that I love represented: I would have three stars to represent my home state of TN with a background of red, white, and blue stripes to represent France and the middle of the flag would have a flying Quetzel bird to represent Guatemala.
The #IncomingElliott series highlights incoming MA 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 email@example.com.