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Meet the Class of 2016 | IC Program

Meet our current graduate students and explore the impressive and diverse backgrounds they bring to the IC and IM Programs.

Marianelle Aguirre

Marianelle Aguirre

Marianella is a second year graduate student in International and Intercultural Communication. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of California, Riverside. During her undergraduate studies she studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which inspired her interests in intercultural relations and environmental justice. This past summer she participated in the practicum course, Brazil: Rural Development, in which the practicum team focused on food systems and participatory civic engagement. She is currently in Central America observing an historic participatory municipal anti-mining campaign in the department of Chalatenango, El Salvador.

Zach Braun

Zach Braun

Zach is a first year International and Intercultural Communications graduate student within the School of International Service. Currently, he is taking courses within the concentration of Intercultural Relations and would like to gain a greater understanding of the Latin American region. With this program, he hopes to gain a fundamental understanding of how these cultures operate and how various communication practices can be used to engage them. It is his desire to work for an organization that has a strong mission identity, provides meaningful change in the world, and is teamwork oriented.

As for his undergraduate education, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Communication from Duquesne University in 2009 and was involved with the Lamda Phi Eta Communications Honor Society and the Intercultural Communication Commission of Duquesne University. For the past four years, he has been working as a Development Manager/Logistics Specialist for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in South Florida. While there, he developed multiple fundraising events across the area and enhanced advocacy efforts for all of those affected by the deadly disease. He enjoys reading, cycling, exploring, wine tastings, and is a movie aficionado. 

Laurel Brooks

Laurel IC

Laurel is a SIS International Communication graduate student from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in English at North Carolina A&T State University in 2012, with a minor in Global Studies. As part of her minor, she studied international business and intercultural studies in Paris, France in the summer of 2011. This experience, in addition to an internship during the same summer at Voice of America in Washington, D.C., captivated her interest in the field of international communication. After graduation, she spent a year teaching English at Henan Polytechnic University in Jiaozuo, Henan Province, China. This experience solidified her interest in international education, especially as it pertains to historically black colleges and universities in the U.S.  

Currently, she is a program assistant for Professor Quansheng Zhao, Chair of the Asian Studies Research Council at AU, focusing on U.S.-China relations, Chinese foreign policy and Japanese foreign policy. In her spare time, she writes bad poetry and good one-liners, watches anime and cooking a lot of pork shu mai.

Abby Buskager

Abby Buskager

Abby is a second year International Communications graduate student at the School of International Service. Abby graduated from the University of Wisconsin –Madison with a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish with a concentration in Global Security. While at the University of Wisconsin –Madison, Abby studied abroad in Spain and taught English in China and Panama;she attributes these experiences to emboldening her passion for intercultural communications and international relations. After graduating in December 2010, Abby completed an internship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, worked briefly with an education non-profit, and then served for two years as a training coordinator and multimedia program manager with the Foreign Service Institute (US Department of State). Abby currently works as a senior operations and program management associate with Chemonics International. She plans to focus on international communication, media, and technology and its ability to assist international development goals and motivate positive social change.

Noor Butalal

Noor Butalal IC Program Student Bio Pic

Noor is a second-year International Communications graduate student at the School of International Service. She is a Fulbright student from the Kingdom of Bahrain and has recently moved to the United States to undertake her Master's degree at American University. Noor graduated from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom with a B.A. in Information Management and Business Studies. After graduating in 2010, Noor returned to Bahrain to work at the Business Development Department at the Economic Development Board, where she had the opportunity to travel on various marketing campaigns and roadshows to promote Bahrain as an ideal business location;promoting foreign direct investment into the Kingdom. Meeting business people from around the world and interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds sparked an interest in the field of intercultural relations. Noor then moved on to work in the Bilateral Relations Department at the Supreme Council for Women;coordinating with international organizations to further the cause of women through research studies, workshops, conventions and awareness campaigns. Noor is eager to broaden her perspective in the field of International Communications over the next two years and is very much looking forward to being back in school and to explore the many opportunities American University has to offer.

Susan Calhoun

Susan Calhoun IC Program student bio pic

Susan Calhoun is a second year student in the International Communication program at SIS. She graduated from Baylor University in 2013 with a double major in International Studies, with a concentration in the Middle East, and German, with minors in Arabic and Great Texts. For the last year, she worked in the promotion department of Pelican Publishing Company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Susan became interested in international relations through her family's travels abroad: two semesters in Florence, Italy, in 2001 and 2006, and one semester in the UK, in 2003.

Analicia Carpio

Analicia Carpio IC program student profile pic

Analicia is a first-year SIS International Communication graduate student at American University. Serving as a 2002 Winter Olympics torchbearer and performing across Europe as part of the 2004 Virginia Ambassadors of Music first opened her eyes to the power of intercultural exchange. Analicia graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Conflict Analysis &Resolution (with a concentration in International Conflict) and Music, as well as a minor in Business. As an undergraduate, she had the opportunity to study global management in China, conduct ethnomusicology research in Taiwan, and engage in citizen diplomacy in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. She also co-founded her university's International Justice Mission campus chapter to equip students and faculty to join the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Upon graduation, she served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and interned for the Alliance for Peacebuilding and International Justice Mission. She plans on exploring how the intersection of international/transnational education, peacebuilding, and public diplomacy can contribute to a more peaceful world. 

Laine Cavanaugh

Laine is a first year student in the International Communication program in the School of International Service.


Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton IC Student Bio pic

Eric Clayton is a first-year student in the International Media program.His undergraduate work was done at Fairfield University, where he studied International Studies and English/Creative Writing, exploring the crossroads of international relations and religion. After graduation, Eric spent time in Santa Cruz, Bolivia teaching English and supporting community outreach initiatives.He currently works at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as a member of the Programs and Resources Unit. As a Program Officer, he develops resources for a national U.S. audience and manages digital content for one of CRS' faith-formation program, CRS Rice Bowl. He also supports the CRS University team through outreach and engagement. Additionally, he is a regular contributor to Busted Halo, an online magazine for twenty-something spiritual seekers, and has also written for Ashoka Changemakers, developing material for campaigns on corporate intrapraneurship, global nutrition and social innovation.

Jeffrey Cobb

Jeff Cobb IC Program student bio pic

Jeff Cobb is a first-year in International Communication. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Eastern Michigan University. After completing his undergraduate studies Jeff was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. During his eight years on active duty he deployed twice to Helmand Province, Afghanistan; first in 2010 with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and again in 2012 on the NATO ISAF Regional Command-Southwest staff. His last assignment was as the Military Information Support Operations (MISO) Company Executive Officer at the Marine Corps Information Operations Center in Quantico, Virginia. His interests are in intercultural relations, persuasive communication, public diplomacy, and security.

Salman Haji

Salman Haji

Salman Haji is a second year student in the International Communication program at SIS. He is originally from Tanzania, but moved to New Mexico and completed his undergraduate studies in International Studies, Arabic and Russian at Macalester College in Minnesota. He has also studied in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and France and worked in Tajikistan. His interests lie in the Muslim World - specifically Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa - and the ways in which language and political and social culture impact identity.

Spencer Harrison

Spencer Harrison is a first year student in International Communication. Originally from Fayetteville, NC, he attended Appalachian State University for his undergraduate studies in Communication. After graduation, he worked for PR agencies in Chicago and Los Angeles primarily focusing on lifestyle, consumer tech and entertainment brands. After spending about six months backpacking throughout SE Asia and Australia, he decided to return for a Master's to move his work experience into an international focus. While he is still deciding on his exact concentration, his interests include public diplomacy, crisis resolution and development. He will likely try to work in a public affairs role with an NGO, or USG agency after graduation.

Sara Ko

Sara Ko IC program student bio pic

Sara Ko is a first-year International Communication student and a second-year dual-degree MA candidate from Korea University's Graduate School of International Studies. Prior to her recent move to Washington, D.C., she worked as an English broadcast journalist in Seoul covering various issues ranging from the second anniversary of the Yeonpyeong-do Island shelling to President Park Geun-hye's inauguration. Sara spent most of her childhood on the island of Saipan, a U.S. Territory located in the heart of the Pacific. She holds a BA degree (with distinction) in journalism from Indiana University at Bloomington. Sara's research interests include the media's role in conceptualizing and constructing global women's empowerment and equality movement and how this phenomenon shapes the global (esp. Asia-Pacific) peace and security arena. Sara is fluent in Korean and English, and conversational in Spanish.

Marissa Lorusso

Marissa Lorusso IC Program student profile picture

Marissa is a second-year IC student from Wrentham, Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor's at Vassar College in anthropology in 2013, focusing mainly on cultural and linguistic anthropology. In her junior year, she studied abroad in Marseille, France and Fez, Morocco, where she first learned about intercultural studies. At SIS, Marissa focuses on the intersections of gender, culture, and communication. During the summer of 2015, she interned with an international radio news program called The World and a documentary series called Frontline, and fell in love with digital storytelling. She plans to use her IC studies to work on communicating issues of global feminisms and intercultural relations. 

Victoria Marino

Victoria is a first-year IC student.

Catherine Marte

Catherine Marte IC program student profile pic

Cat Marte is a first-generation American and the first person in her family to graduate college with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. At SIS, she is a first-year Masters candidate in the International Communications concentration with an interest in International Education. Her career goals include facilitating study aboard programs for American students and for international students who wish to study in America. She is also interested in the effects globalization may have on education and the potential "melting pot" of educational efforts worldwide.

Jenae Po

Janae Poe IC Program Student bio pic

Jenae is a first year International Communications student at American University's School of International Service. She completed her Bachelor's Degree at Pacific Lutheran University in Hispanic Studies along with a double minor in Communication and Global Studies. Jenae was able to spend a semester studying language, culture and immigration issues in Oaxaca, Mexico. After graduating, she moved to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. Jenae has spent the last two years working as a bilingual paralegal at a law firm with immigrant communities in Seattle, Washington. Jenae hopes to apply her knowledge of international communication to create social change and economic development, possibly within the realm of social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility.

John Pouyes

John Pouyes IC Program student bio pic

John is a first-year student in International Communication. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University Maryland in Political Science and Spanish in which he was able to focus on international relations and study abroad in Spain. John is currently working under the Pathways program at the U.S. Department of State within the Bureau of Consular Affairs. He hopes to develop his knowledge base in strategic communication, international communication technologies and intercultural leadership. In his spare time, he enjoys music, sports, reading and dancing.

Joseph Quinn

Joseph Quin IC Program student bio pic

Joseph is a second-year IC Master's Candidate with a specialization in Transatlantic Diplomacy and Policy. He comes to SIS from DePaul University's International Studies Department. Prior to beginning a graduate degree Joseph completed internships in Europe and South America. The first was at the Irish Parliament in Dublin where he assisted Bernard Allen TD FG of Cork in research regarding the Committee of Public Accounts. The second was at the European Parliament in Brussels where he carried out political media analysis for Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP of Romania. Finally, Joseph interned for the Light and Leadership Initiative in Lima, Perú, an NGO working to educate, empower and bring change to the community of Huaycán.

Joseph is currently an intern in the Europe Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. His research interests include the rise of the Far-right in contemporary European Politics and the evolving relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Suzanne Slattery

Suzanne Slattery IC Program Student Profile pic

Suzanne Slattery is a first year student in the International Media program in the School of International Service. She received a B.A. from the University of Oregon in Journalism and in International Studies with a concentration on West Africa and did a semester abroad in Senegal. Suzanne did two years of AmeriCorps VISTA in the San Diego office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Following her service, she worked as a program coordinator at IRC, creating cultural orientation content for refugees new to the US. Later she became a program supervisor, overseeing a community health navigation and wellness program that served over 600 refugees and provided 4000 hours of medical interpretation. Most recently, Suzanne supervised a comprehensive vocational ESL program for refugees in two cities. She also volunteered with A Reason To Survive (ARTS), a program that uses art to positively impact youth facing challenges. At SIS, she hopes to study media and communication as a tool within development projects for humanitarian aid organizations.

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer is a first year graduate student in the International Communication Program.

Mikaela Spencer

Mikaela Spencer IC program student bio pic

Mikaela is a first year student in International Communications program at American University. She received her bachelor's degree in International Studies and Spanish from The Ohio State University. During her undergraduate studies she studied abroad in Granada, Spain which sparked her interest in International Education. This fall, she began graduate school to study and further her interest in International Education.

Kaitlin Taylor

Kaitlin Taylor ic program student bio pic

Kaitlin Taylor is a first year IC student from Chicago. She holds a BA degree in Political Science and Arabic Studies from DePaul University. After graduating from DePaul, she participated in the Critical Language Scholarship program in Fes, Morocco and studied Arabic at the University of Jordan in Amman. Kaitlin also spent three years working in the Communications Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. At SIS, she plans to focus her studies on intercultural relations, public diplomacy, and international education. In addition to her studies, Kaitlin is a teaching assistant for Dr. Gary Weaver and works at SIS's Intercultural Management Institute.

Brienne Thomson

Brienne Thomson

Brienne Thomson received her BA in Journalism from the University of California at San Diego during which she interned at 60 Minutes and worked at the local CBS affiliate. Before teaching English for an international pre-MBA program at San Diego State University and subsequently in Cartagena, Colombia, Brienne followed her heart into her passion of motorcycling, where she toiled away as a bike tester and magazine editor. While pursuing her two-wheel fervor and goal of Spanish fluency and cultural immersion, Brienne took a nine-month excursion through Central America, designed an off-the-map route from Mayan ruin-to-ruin around the Yucatan Peninsula, and published an article about an exploration through the stunning highlands of Guatemala. Once back in the US-of-A, Brienne serendipitously came across the Peace Corps Master’s International program that wove her experiential educational passions together.

She completed the first year of her master's degree in International Communications with an emphasis in Economics in 2013 before setting out to serve in the Peace Corps’ Community Economic Development Sector in Paraguay through May of 2015. Now back at AU, Brienne works in the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning and aims to finish her degree in the spring of 2016. Learn more about Brienne here.

Cierra Wallace

Cierra Wallace IC Program student bio pic

Cierra Wallace is a first-year in the International Communication Master program. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology at Vanguard University of Southern California. After teaching English for grades K-12 in rural South Korea, Cierra moved back to her hometown of Bozeman, Montana where she taught English at Associates in Cultural Exchange Language Institute at Montana State University. Having visited almost 20 countries, Cierra loves to explore and meet new people. She is interested in intercultural training and management, migration, and development.