Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Meet the Class of 2017 | IC

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

Frieda Arenos

Freida Arenos

Frieda is a second year Intercultural and International Communication student. Hailing from upstate New York, Frieda obtained her Bachelor's in English and Political Science from the University of Vermont. Upon graduation, Frieda moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee under Chairman Patrick Leahy. After one year, she returned to Vermont to work in Senator Leahy's state offices as a constituent services assistant, where she counseled Vermonters on policy matters and obtaining federal benefits. In 2012, Frieda returned to Washington, and has since served as Senator Leahy's executive assistant, intern coordinator, and junior legislative assistant for health, education, human services, and nutrition. Frieda also serves as the Director of Training and Resources for the School of International Service's peer-review journal, the Journal of International Service. Frieda is a professionally trained ballet dancer with over 18 years of dance experience. She is also an avid writer and appreciates any opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Frieda has a longtime history of mentoring, both with at-risk and underserved youth and was a cultural and community integration mentor with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Frieda has visited over 20 different countries, including Cameroon, Australia, Israel, Bosnia, and Peru, and she has a particular interest in heightening the cultural awareness of leaders in the U.S. government, particularly those in Congress, the State Department, and the Department of Defense.

Asvatha Babu

Ashvatha Babu

Asvatha Babu is a second year Master's student in the International Communication program. Her areas of study are Global & Social media Strategy and Internet Governance. She has experience in social media management, marketing, journalism and research. Asvatha has interned at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, the Times of India in Chennai and worked part-time at several start-ups as a content-writer and social media manager. She is currently a Research Associate at the Institute on Disability and Public Policy and at the Internet Governance Lab, both of which are based out of American University. She is also the Digital Marketing Co-ordinator at the American University Career Center. Asvatha is interested in working in communication strategy for non-profits, think-tanks and start-ups with an inclination towards those that do work in the tech and information policy fields.

Maria Beltrán

Maria Beltran

Maria is a second-year Intercultural & International Communication graduate student at SIS from Los Angeles, California. She is a first-generation college graduate and holds a B.A. in Global &International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her experience is primarily in the public sector where she has developed strong skills in communications, program development, community outreach, and partnership building through her time at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, EducationUSA, Enroll America, Young Invincibles, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Aspen Institute. At SIS she is developing her own concentration on Public Diplomacy in Latin America, in order to craft strategic messages that resonate with Latino communities domestically and abroad.

Cat Canney

Cat Canney

Cat is a second-year IC student. Originally from the Boston area, she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, with BAs in French and Political Science as well as a minor in Psychology. While at VCU she spent a semester at l'Université de Savoie in Chambéry, France; two at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, studying Arabic on a Boren Scholarship; and a summer in Amman, Jordan, on the Critical Language Scholarship. While at SIS she is focusing her studies on intercultural relations, specifically acculturation of immigrants and refugees. Cat is a Fall 2016 intern on the Middle East and Turkey Affairs team at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a 2016-2017 eIntern with the U.S. Department of State through the Virtual Student Foreign Service.

Alanna Casselle

Alanna Casselle

Alanna Casselle is a first-year graduate student of Intercultural and International Communication at the School of International Service. She became intrigued with intercultural relations after studying abroad in Paris, France. After completing her undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education from Howard University, she moved to the Dominican Republic to teach at an international school. Upon returning to her hometown of Philadelphia, Pa, she taught English and Spanish in the public school system. This past summer, she worked in Costa Rica as a group leader for The Experiment in International Living. She plans to become a scholar-practitioner in the fields of intercultural relations and international education. Her regional interests include Africa and the Diaspora, with a special interest in Latin America. She loves to read, explore, dance bachata, and volunteer for prison literacy programs.

Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton has worked at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) since June 2013 as a member of the Programs and Resources Unit. As a Program Officer, he develops resources and manages digital content for CRS' Lenten program, CRS Rice Bowl, while supporting other CRS programs. He has also been a contributor to online faith-based blogs and journals, including Busted Halo, Sojourners, and the Catholic Apostolate Center, as well as at Ashoka Changemakers, an NGO specializing in social entrepreneurship. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Fairfield University, where he studied International Studies and English/Creative Writing, often exploring in his research the crossroads of international relations and religion. After graduation, Eric spent time volunteering in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Nicole Corea

Nicole Corea

Nicole Corea is a first year graduate student in the department of International and Intercultural Communications at SIS. Originally from Johor Bahru, Malaysia, she received her bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Anthropology with minors in Global Studies and Arabic. After graduating from Pitt, Nicole moved to Miami where she taught elementary school in Little Haiti as a part of Teach For America. She was then awarded a Fulbright fellowship in Amman, Jordan where she conducted English language discussion classes at a local high school and volunteered at a Syrian refugee camp. While academically she has focused on the Middle East, Nicole has also travelled extensively in other regions in search of new experiences (and great food). Her experiences with people from all over the world prompted her to look for a graduate program that encouraged students to think critically about the role that culture plays in international relations. The IC program at American was a perfect fit. She is eager to learn as much as she can over the next two years before using her knowledge to create spaces for intercultural dialogue and conflict resolution in classrooms worldwide.

DeKyan Dennis

DeKyan Dennis

DeKyan Dennis is currently a second-year masters candidate in the Intercultural and International Communications program in the School of International Service. Before she was a student at American University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University in Hampton, VA. Ms. Dennis’ concentration is public diplomacy with an emphasis on digital diplomacy. More specifically, her primary focus is how digital media and cultural diplomacy are paired together as a form of soft power and how it is effectively utilized to promote U.S. interests abroad and nation branding efforts.Most recently Ms. Dennis was an intern at the Embassy of Peru, USA in their Digital Diplomacy department where she was responsible for managing and creating content on all social media platforms.Ms. Dennis’ ultimate goal is to work for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer but is also interested in working for an NGO or business in a media/communications department or media/social media consulting.

Christina Fahmi

Christina Fahmi

Christina Fahmi is a second year in the Intercultural and International Communication program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Arabic Studies from the University of Maryland with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. While she was an undergraduate she had numerous research assistantships in a variety of fields including counterterrorism, second language acquisition and cross-cultural psychology. She was also the president of the Coptic Orthodox Christian Association at UMD for two years. She is currently a Student Assistant at the Kogod School of Business Office of Development and Alumni Relations. In the future, she hopes to use communication as a tool foster understanding and camaraderie between the United States and the Middle East.

Sarah Grace

Sarah Grace is a first year in International Media program.

Nia Jackson

Nia Jackson

Nia Jackson is a first-year student in the Intercultural and International Communications Program at American University. She graduated from the University of South Florida in May 2014 and embarked on a diverse and transformational gap year. She studied Arabic in Morocco through the Critical Language Scholarship Program and worked for a U.S. Senator as a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Communications Intern. After two months of obtaining full-time employment at a progressive think tank, she was awarded the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship. Nia looks forwarded to the challenging and enlightening career of a Foreign Service Officer. It is her hope that AU will give her the tools to be innovative and impactful in her desired track of public diplomacy. Her hobbies include writing poetry, doing DIY projects and planning activities for her friends.

Ockert Jansen

Ockert Jansen

Ockert Jansen is a second year Intercultural and International Communications student from Namibia. His studies in the United States are funded through the J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board. Ockert holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Communications Technologies, as well as a Graduate Honors Degree in the same cognate field from the Polytechnic of Namibia (now Namibia University of Science and Technology). Ockert's professional experience stems from the mainstream media industry where he worked in broadcast-media as well as in communications where he performed various public relations and marketing roles. His academic interest changed several times ever since he started this graduate program, but his concentration is now focused along the intersection of Social Media, Communication Policy and Strategy. Through most of his coursework, Ockert had a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, as he saw a gap in this area within American University.

Adam Jennison

Adam Jennison

Adam is a second year IC student from Washington, D.C. He attended Indiana University in Bloomington where he received his bachelor's degree in International Studies with minors in East Asian Studies and Art History. He studied abroad in Tokyo his junior year where he cemented his interest in Japanese language and culture. Upon returning, he used his experience abroad as inspiration for his thesis, which focused on emerging masculine identities in contemporary Japan. After graduation, he returned home to pursue internships with the Office of Communications for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs as a Public Diplomacy intern for the Department of State. Before starting at AU, he taught English in the small city of Tottori in western Japan through the JET Program, where he finally gained an appreciation for seafood. He had the opportunity to return to Japan this summer as a Public Affairs intern at U.S. Embassy Tokyo. At SIS, he has been focusing on U.S. Public Diplomacy initiatives and leveraging social media in furthering U.S. international policy goals.

Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee

Rachel is a second-year student in the Intercultural and International Communication Program. She is an intern at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars working on the North Korea International Documentation Project. She is an advisor at the AU student club PEACE (Peace of East Asia through Creative Engagement). Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Washington. Prior to coming to SIS, she worked with a North Korean human rights organization and traveled across the country, educating professionals and students at over 70 venues about the human rights crisis in North Korea and China. She has also worked in international development through a humanitarian aid organization that operates medical facilities in North Korea. She is passionate about the reunification of Korea and refugee resettlement and migration issues. She is a coffee connoisseur who loves to check out cafes during her spare time.

Alexis Lennon

Alexis Lennon

Alexis is a master's candidate in the International and Intercultural Communications Program. A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Alexis obtained a B.A, in Sociology from Hampton University. While at Hampton, she spent a semester studying abroad at Menendez Pelayo International University in Barcelona, Spain. It was during her time abroad that she became intrigued with international education and the internationalization of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Currently, Alexis works at the U.S. Dept of State working on public-private-partnerships. In her free time she enjoys, spending time with family, traveling and trying new restaurants.

Marina Mangie

Marina Mangie

Marina is a first-year student in the International and Intercultural Communication program at SIS. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in International Studies with a minor in Japanese at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While at the University of Alabama, she focused on intercultural communication and English as a Second Language students, and studied abroad in Japan at Chiba University and Kansai Gaidai University. She also was an intern in the University of Alabama's study abroad office. Through these experiences, she developed a strong interest in English education and intercultural relations, as well as race and gender issues, especially in regards to the Asia-Pacific region. In her free time, she enjoys music, drawing, cooking, and playing video games.

Laura Marks

Laura Marks

Originally from New York, Laura has spent the last 7 years of her life dedicated to international exchange - both as an advocate and a participant. With a BA in Spanish from Florida International University (FIU), Laura has taken advantage of opportunities abroad by studying, volunteering, and teaching English in Argentina, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru. Upon graduation, she worked to help others have transformational experiences abroad as the Program Coordinator at FIU's Office of Study Abroad, later embarking on her own adventures abroad as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Fortaleza, Brazil and as Outreach Coordinator aboard the Spring 2015 voyage of Semester at Sea. As a graduate student in the MA in Intercultural and International Communication program at AU, Laura has sought to understand how intercultural relations plays a role in both private and public partnership building, specifically within Latin America. Laura spent her first year at AU highly involved on campus, serving as the Director of Community Engagement for the SIS Graduate Student Council and as an intercultural facilitator for the TALK program, and is using her second year to focus on internship experiences - first with a corporate social responsibility consulting firm, and now with a global strategic consulting firm that helps U.S. businesses navigate complex policy environments abroad. Given the recent normalization efforts, Laura is specifically interested in facilitating partnership building with Cuba, having had the pleasure of completing her SIS practicum in Cuba seeking ways to develop educational partnerships between U.S. and Cuban universities.

Marianne Menius

Marianne Menius

Marianne is a first year in the Intercultural and International Communication Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a minor in Arabic. During her time at UNC, Marianne held an internship with a program called Visiting International Faculty (VIF), which brought elementary school teachers from all around the world to teach in the NC public school system for three years. This was her first exposure to the idea of international education and the beginning of her career. After college, she taught English in Thailand for a year before returning to North Carolina. Marianne has spent the last four years working in International Admissions for a small, private university in North Carolina and traveling all over Asia to visit with international students interested in studying in the United States. At SIS, she hopes to further her career goals by learning more about transnational education and intercultural communication.

Hannah Olivieri

Hannah Olivieri

Hannah is a second year graduate student at the School of International Service, focusing on the intersection of public diplomacy and cross-cultural training. She has spent 3 years in Japan on the JET Program (2008 - 11) where she learned to speak, read, and write Japanese fluently. Upon returning to the United States, she took up the volunteer position of Co-President of the JET Program's alumni association (2012 - 13), representing the JET community at events and serving as an interviewer, panelist, and representative at Consular events at the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles. Most recently, she was the resident translator and Marketing Coordinator for Otafuku Foods (2013 - 2015), a Japanese Sauce Manufacturing Company, where she also translated technical production manuals and interpreted for meetings, press releases, and official functions. Her academic research includes bridging epistemological gaps and she has given a TED style talk at the SIETAR annual conference on the conflict between the Native Hawaiian community and NASA, which attempted to build a telescope on the sacred peak, Mauna Kea. As part of her capstone project, Hannah has also conducted research on using education to build diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba through partnerships between higher education institutions. She will be returning to Cuba to create a training program for students interested in study abroad, with the aim of helping them to better prepare for study in a Cuba’s cultural context. Using her global competencies, Hannah now plans to become a cross cultural trainer after graduation and hopes to work for the Foreign Service Institute.

Kathryn Russell

Kathryn Russell

Kathryn is a second-year student in the Intercultural and International Communication Program, concentrating in Transnational Education. She earned her BA in International Relations from Tufts University, where she spent a semester studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt. After graduation, Kathryn served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with a college-access program outside of Chicago. She then moved to Washington, D.C. to begin her career in international education, working with American high school students studying abroad. She is interested in the intersections between culture, education, and international relations. Focused on development, implementation, and evaluation of effective international programs, she has an interest in monitoring & evaluation and evidence-based decision-making in an international education context.

Hannah Shambroom

Hannah is a first year in Intercultural and International Communication program.

Julia Throop

Julia Throop

Julia Throop is a second year graduate student in the International and Intercultural Communication program. A Boston native, Julia spent four years working overseas in Shanghai, China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Her past experience includes writing as a contributing editor for the Boston Phoenix and Bostonian magazine. Julia moved overseas after receiving her BA from Boston University in 2007 to teach English to local undergraduates in rural China. There, she saw passion to excel, professionally and academically, in her students. She was inspired by their desire to pursue jobs and advanced degrees overseas, and now remains a big proponent of study abroad and the international experience, and its value both to the educator, and to the student. She currently works as an Academic Advisor at the School of International Service for students in the online graduate program.

Pattie Umali

Pattie Umali

Pattie Umali is an international education practitioner and budding game designer devoted to teaching youth about contemporary cultures and peoples throughout the world. She is a second-year Intercultural and International Communication student focused on technology in international education. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and International Relations from Brown University. While in undergrad, she spent a summer in Manila interning with the Philippines branch of the Ashoka -Innovators for the Public and the Ateneo University School of Government assisting with social entrepreneurship initiatives. Pattie studied abroad in Amsterdam during her junior year. Her international experiences have taught her the importance of interaction with people from other cultures. Before coming to AU, she worked in enrollment management and customized programming at a study abroad provider in Chicago. Pattie wants to increase intercultural competence by sparking interest in global education at an earlier age through gaming. She recently launched the InterIntellectus blog in hopes of establishing a forum for the exploration of these topics. Pattie is currently building her first video game, a fantasy adventure set in the Philippines entitled The Girl Who Sees.

Cierra Wallace

Cierra Wallace IC Program student bio pic

Cierra is a third-year Intercultural and International Communication student, a second-year dual-degree MA candidate at Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies, and a first-year International Arts Management Graduate Certificate student (also at AU). She received her BA degree in Cultural Anthropology from Vanguard University of Southern California, focusing on language and communication, and in 2010, she studied abroad with Semester at Sea. After teaching English for grades K-12 in rural South Korea, Cierra taught a variety of courses at Associates in Cultural Exchange Language Institute at Montana State University in her hometown, Bozeman, MT. Cierra loves to travel, explore, and meet new people. She is interested in intercultural training and management and using the arts in diplomacy and development, all of which she is exploring in current research on military bands.

Shawnté Wright

Shawnte Wright

Shawnté Wright is a first year in the Intercultural and International Communications program. She received her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. She focused on Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Arabic language. She has worked with the University of Chile in the study abroad office in the School of Business and Economics. She was also involved in various media organizations including a Spanish language news television program. She currently works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Yuyang Zhang

Yuyang Zhang

Yuyang is a second-year Master's Candidate in Intercultural and International Communication. She received her Bachelor of Arts from American University in International Studies along with a minor in Japanese Language. As an international student from China, Yuyang has been studying overseas for more than eight years now, with four years of high school in Singapore, four years of college in the U.S., and one semester exchange to Japan. With her international background, Yuyang considers herself as a product of international education and cross-cultural communication as her daily encounter is Asia, especially East Asia. With a profound interest in trilateral relations among China, Japan, and the U.S., it is her passion to explore strategies of public diplomacy and design international education and exchange programs that can enhance the mutual understanding among China, Japan, and the U.S. Yuyang is currently a Intergroup Dialogue facilitator for Center for Diversity and Inclusion.