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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Michael Choi will be a first-year Masters candidate in the Asian Studies program at the Elliott School this fall, concentrating in politics & policy and international security. He received his bachelor’s degree in history at St. John’s University in 2011. His interests are intra-Asian relationships between Northeast and Southeast Asian countries as well as security cooperation and alliance management within the region. Michael is returning to school after serving eight years in the military. Michael enjoys running half-marathons, hiking, and yoga.
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Maddy Berner is pursuing an M.A. in Global Communication at the Elliott School with plans to concentrate in Public Diplomacy and study how to improve cross-cultural communication in the digital age. She received her bachelor’s degree in online journalism and Spanish language from Syracuse University in 2014. While in school, she studied abroad in Spain, which kickstarted her interest in international affairs. After graduating, she moved back home to the D.C. area and interned for several publications, including Washingtonian Magazine, the Agence France-Press and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She is currently the Communications Manager for the International Women’s Forum, a global membership organization.
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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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Ana M. Diaz will be a first-year Masters candidate in the International Affairs program at the Elliott School this fall, concentrating in European and Eurasian studies. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Florida in 2019. Specifically, she is interested in migration and refugee resettlement in Europe. As a Ronald E. McNair scholar, Ana presented her research regarding the “2015 Refugee Crisis” in various conferences and served as a Junior Fellow in the Political Science department at the University of Florida. She also interned at Weiser Immigration Law Firm in where she gained experience in trial preparation and litigation practices. She is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and is currently learning French.
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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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