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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Daniel “Dani” Saenz graduated Magna Cum Lade from Fort Hays State University with a BA in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. During this time, he studied abroad at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco his junior year. Through a student organization on campus, he was then able to intern in Cairo, Egypt as an English teacher for refugees the following summer. He has also worked as a journalist for the Tiger Media on campus, earning the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Award for his commentary on the security issues facing the United States in the Middle East in 2017 and commentary on pressing issues in Latin America in 2018. Daniel is a newly admitted student at the Elliott School pursuing a Masters in International Affairs, concentrating in U.S. foreign policy and conflict resolution. In particular, he is interested in becoming a Political Officer in the State Department. Daniel also enjoys reading about global events, learning new languages, and meeting people from different countries.
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Henry Knecht is starting his Masters in Security Policy Studies at the Elliott School in the Fall 2019 semester. Henry is coming back from his Peace Corps service, which he began in February 2016. He worked as a Health Extension Volunteer in a small village in Senegal for 27 Months. There he became fluent in the local language, Sereer, and worked to promote health in malaria prevention, nutrition, maternal and child health, and water and sanitation hygiene. He then continued his service by moving to the Peace Corps Liberia post where he worked as the Malaria Coordinator for one year as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. Henry hopes to continue work in the West Africa region, promoting peace and security.
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Rudan Balay is a 23-year- old Kurdish-American activist born in Berlin, Germany and will be pursuing an M.A in International Affairs this fall. After completing her high school degree in Prague, Czech Republic, Rudan moved to Iraq and provided support for the refugee crisis. During her time in Iraq, she co-launched an organization called Student Ambassadors for Peace – to promote intercultural understanding amongst youth in a diverse Iraq. Rudan completed her bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York in Prague and has a published bachelors thesis on Islamic State recruitment tactics. She speaks four languages and has attended notable international conferences worldwide including the United Nations Human Rights and ECOSOC summit, and is currently preparing for her participation as Iraqi Youth Ambassador to the United Nations in 2019.
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