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Meet the Class of 2018 | IC

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

Atika Alkhallouf

Atika is a first year Master’s Candidate in the Intercultural and International Communication Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Damascus University in Syria. In addition to her work experience as a translator (English >< Arabic), Atika has taught English in different departments at Damascus University for three years-Department of Education, Department of Sociology, Department of Japanese Language and Literature, in addition to the Higher Language Institute. As a Master’s Candidate at SIS, Atika is primarily concentrating on peacebuilding, international negotiations, and International Development.

Carly Anderson

Carly Anderson

As a person passionate about people, Carly is fascinated with investigating how to make international development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa more efficient. Carly is a first year student in the MA Intercultural and International Communications Program, focusing on development communications. She is from Salt Lake City, Utah and lived in Seattle, Washington before moving to Washington, DC. Carly graduated with her BA in Political Science from Gonzaga University in 2013. Previously, she worked at public relations agency WE Communications on the Skype account, and was the Marketing Director for EKARI Foundation, a non-profit organization that operates in Malawi, and works with locals to provide student tuition support and sustainable community development.

Laura Bisbee

Laura Bisbee

 Laura is a first-year student in the MA Intercultural and International Communications Program. Originally from Fort Myers, Florida, she graduated from Furman University in Greenville, S.C. with a B.A. in Psychology. While at Furman, she spent a month studying abroad in China, a decision that drastically changed her career path. Upon graduation, Laura moved to Guiyang, Guizhou, China to study Mandarin as a Recipient of the Confucius Institute for a year. Afterward, she moved to the nearby province of Kunming, Yunnan where she served as an ESL instructor in a private elementary school for the next two years. While there, she traveled solo through Cambodia, Tibet, and Nepal.   It was her the challenges and quirks in an intercultural workplace that stimulated her interest in intercultural communication and subsequent application to American University. Laura hopes to pursue a combination of Public Diplomacy and Intercultural Relations in hopes of serving as Public Diplomacy Foreign Service officer with the Department of State.

Alma Burke

Alma Burke

Alma Burke is a first-year SIS International Media student from Chicago, IL. She received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. During her time at Mizzou, she served as a White House intern in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, and web editor for KOMU-TV in Columbia, MO. Upon graduation, she worked as the Public Correspondence Manager for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, working alongside campaign executives to write correspondence and policy documents on behalf of President Obama and his Administration. She has also worked as a Production Assistant in the Creative Solutions Department for McDonald’s Corporation, and Cision, where she monitored the effects media has on corporate brand management. She is currently as fellow with the Public Diplomacy Council and a Research Associate with the Institute for Disabilities and Public Policy (IDPP) at American University. As an International Media student, she will pursue her interests of digital storytelling and documentary making, capturing a wide range of global, cultural and political adversities as they pertain to women and youth.

Corina Hendren

Corina Hendren

Corina is a first year International Communication and Intercultural Relations student. Originally from Columbia, Maryland, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations with a minor in Economics from Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. As a Seton Hall student, Corina interned with the Public Diplomacy section at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname, where she drafted press-releases, speeches, and op-eds, and worked with both American and Surinamese staff. During her internship, Corina learned about the State Department’s initiatives to promote the rights for LGBTQ+ rights abroad. As a result of her work with the State Department and her own personal experiences, she seeks to understand ways in which to improve LGBTQ+ rights advocacy programming within different cultural contexts. Corina enjoys drinking strong coffee, playing rugby, tracing her ancestry, and going to museums.

Robyn Caron

Robyn Caron

Robyn Caron a first-year Intercultural and International Communication student concentrating in Transnational Education. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with a minor in German from the University of Connecticut. While an undergrad, she spent a summer in Moldova teaching English and interned at Peace Thru Culture in Washington D.C.. Robyn also studied abroad in Berlin Germany during her junior year and then completed an internship with the Public Affairs Department of U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt am Main Germany. Before coming to AU, Robyn lived in Muenster Germany and volunteered as an adult English teacher. Currently, Robyn is an intern at the Institute of International Education for the Language Flagship Program. She hopes to explore the role of international exchanges as a component of public diplomacy through her education at SIS and various professional experiences. Robyn is also interested in specifically fostering more positive relations with former Soviet nations through people to people interactions. In her free time, Robyn enjoys training for and running marathons.

Abigail Evans

Abigail Evans

Abby is a first year student in the International and Intercultural Communications program. Abby graduated in 2014 with her BA in Anthropology and Africana Studies from William Smith College. She is coming back to DC after spending two years in Tucson, Arizona where she discovered her love for the dessert and breakfast burritos. Having worked in strategic operations and communications for Canyon Ranch Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit, Abby developed a keen interest in co-created programs and strategic communications for do-good organizations. She is excited to bring together her experiences both in and outside of the classroom, and looks forward to defining her skill set further. Abby is currently coordinating the Skills Institute program at the School of International Service and working as a Digital Marketing Assistant for the School of Communications.

Nicholle Granger

Nicholle Granger

Nicholle is a first-year student in the Intercultural and International Communication (IC) Program. Nicholle graduated in 2009 with her BA in Economics and Japanese from UCLA. Her passion for Japan led her to the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program, where she worked as both an language teacher and program adviser for four years. Wanting to diversify her expertise in international communication, Nicholle relocated to Washington, DC in 2013 to become a news producer and correspondent to the Pentagon at Nippon Television, one of Japan's leading news broadcasting networks. It was during this time that Nicholle began to see her interests in international communication expand beyond the scope of Japan and East Asia. As a defense correspondent, she monitored the U.S. military's engagement in humanitarian relief efforts abroad and became interested in the realm of international development. Wanting to learn more, Nicholle took an internship in strategic planning at FHI 360, a non-profit human development organization and one of USAID's largest contractors. As an IC student, Nicholle will pursue her interests in cross-cultural communication and development to promote cultural diplomacy and human development.

Amy Katzman

Amy Katzman

Amy Katzman is a first-year in the International and Intercultural Communication Master program. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations and Russian and Eastern European Studies at Florida State University. After graduating, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English for grades K-12 in a rural village in the Republic of Georgia. Amy’s research and professional interests are in military intercultural training, intercultural relations, and transnational education.

Justine King

Justine King

Justine is a first year International and Intercultural Communications (IC) student. Hailing from New York, Justine obtained her Bachelor's Degree in International Relations from the University of Rochester. She studied abroad in Belgium and interned at the European Parliament. Upon graduating from U of R in 2015, she began her Masters at SIS and interned in the Office of Congressman Charles B. Rangel. That year, Justine was awarded the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship and switched graduate programs to pursue a Masters in IC. Justine looks forwarded to the challenging and enlightening career of a Foreign Service Officer. Her hobbies include listening to music, bowling, exploring and hanging out with family and friends.

Ha Le

Ha Le

Ha is a first-year graduate student in the Intercultural and International Communication Program, SIS. She earned her Bachelor degree in International Finance from Hanoi Foreign Trade University, Vietnam. Ha has 5 years of hands-on experience in anti-corruption; transparency; journalism; community development projects with in-depth understanding of governance situations and diverse multi-sectorial knowledge in Vietnam. After college, she worked as a lead editor for an e-newspaper based in Hanoi. Ha then developed her passion in development work and spent over 3 years in various roles with Towards Transparency - Transparency International's Contact in Vietnam to help promote transparency, accountability and integrity across sectors in the country. She also engaged in private sector with a Honeywell's training management contract for the biggest oil refinery project in Vietnam. Ha has genuine interest in intercultural communication, technology for strategic communication, governance issues, anti-corruption with regional focus on South East Asia, China and Japan. Ha loves to spend her free time on travel, photography, jazz and museums. In addition to professional work, she is enthusiastically involved in and supports arts activities in her home country, where she volunteered 4 years for the Arts and Culture Department of the British Council Hanoi. Ha was also the co-artist and co-producer for the installation work "Challengers" in the exhibit "The New Global Women" (Hanoi, 2015).

Essence Lee

Essence Lee

Essence is a first-year IC graduate student. Originally from Hartford, CT, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from North Carolina A&T State University. Upon graduation, Essence moved to Detroit where she served in Americorps as an Academic Success Coach. It was here where she fully realized her passion for education and culture. She then decided to explore the international realm so she obtained her TEFL certificate and became an ESL Teacher in the province of Suphanburi, Thailand. Her professional interests include exploring the intersection of international culture, communication and education and their impact on poverty and development. In her free time, Essence enjoys blogging, baking, reading and traveling.

Nicole Mularz

Nicole Mularz

Nicole Mularz is a first-year graduate student of the Intercultural and International Communication program. She is a proud alumna of American University, obtaining her BA in CLEG (Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics & Government) from the School of Public Affairs in 2014. As a student, she studied abroad at the University of Cape Town and was selected twice to serve as a trip fellow for American University’s Community-Based Learning Programs, where she led groups of graduate and undergraduate students to Cape Town to engage with organizations that focus on issues of race, class, and gender in post-Apartheid South Africa. Nicole has extensive experience on Capitol Hill, having held internships with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Office of U.S. Senator Chris Coons. Following graduation, Nicole accepted a position with the American University Office of Development and Alumni Relations with the Campaigns and Planning division. Currently, she serves as the Development Coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences, where she works with faculty and students across various academic disciplines, the AU Museum, and manages donor relations. Given her interest in protocol from her time spent interning for the SFRC, in addition to her love of the arts, Nicole plans to pursue a concentration focused on cultural diplomacy.

Stefanie Nagler Nygren

Stefanie Nagler Nygren

Stefanie is a Swedish first year master student studying Intercultural and International communications. She previously studied her bachelor’s degree in International Relations in Australia. She is interested in working within intercultural corporative interactions between companies and within soft cultural boundaries. Stefanie is curious and open to learn new things for the future development of better cultural communications. She has lived in several countries before; Australia, USA, Sweden and Japan.

Marshell Putra

Marshell Putra

Marshell is a first-year student in Intercultural and International Communication Program at SIS. He is currently holding a full-scholarship from Indonesia Ministry of Finance's Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP). Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, he earned his BA in International Relations from Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung. After graduation, he worked as a lecturer cadre in the same college. His duty includes helping the faculty in teaching, researching, and doing community service. While he was an undergraduate, he actively involved in numerous research assistantship and organizational activities. He was also the Vice President of the International Relations Student Association in his college. His research interest is in public diplomacy, media and technology, socio-cultural, and ASEAN regionalism. He is also space and aviation aficionado, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is simply his favorite place in DC!

Janelle Ramus-Jones

Janelle Ramus-Jones

Janelle Ramus-Jones is a first-year graduate student of Intercultural and International Communication at the School of International Service. Originally interested in public diplomacy, after five years of work in the legal and international development fields, she became interested in the interdisciplinary nature of American University's IC program. After completing her undergraduate degree in International Relations, with a minor in Sociology, from The College of William & Mary, she moved to the DC-Area. In addition to working-full time, she spent time in Morocco teaching English at a non-profit focused on women's empowerment. Shortly after this trip, she began working in the legal department of a USAID contractor, where she works on foreign registration, litigation, and compliance matters. She plans to become an intercultural specialist working at the intersection of international development and diplomacy. In her free time, Janelle is an avid reader, and enjoys testing new recipes.

Gena Robinson

Gena Robinson

Gena Robinson is a first year student in the International Communications program, with a concentration in Public Diplomacy. An Indiana native, Gena graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she first developed an interest in public diplomacy. Gena has worked as a middle school teacher in Haiti and in Southeast Washington, DC. She returned to Indiana as the Director of Emergency Services for the St. Joseph County Red Cross, coordinating and communicating services for members of the military, members of the community affected by disasters, and the international community. After three years at the Red Cross, Gena went back to working in Haiti as the Assistant Director for the Notre Dame Haiti Program, a public health program committed to eliminating lymphatic filariasis in Haiti. Most recently, Gena was a Marketing and Communications Specialist with the Alliance for Catholic Education, assisting with their efforts to improve the Haitian Education system. In her spare time, Gena cheers on her Fighting Irish in just about any sport, decorates cupcakes, and watches Parks and Rec.

Kathleen Schaefer

Kate Schaefer

Kate is a first-year IC student with a specific interest in cross-cultural exchanges. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in Political Science and German. As an undergraduate, she studied in Berlin, Germany, where she took classes at the Freie Universität. She has interned at World Learning, Meridian International Center, and the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, which together formed and solidified her interest in exchange programs. She then decided to take part in her own exchange by traveling to South Korea to teach English for two years. She now works at the NEA Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to raise student achievement and global competence in the US. Kate currently serves as the IC program senator, representing the program on the Graduate Student Council. She enjoys playing softball, baking, and reading, and is always happy to talk about food.

Rana Shenawi

Rana Shenawi

Rana is a first-year student in the International Media program at SIS. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus on Public Relations along with a French language certificate from Temple University. Soon after graduation, she had the chance to practice what she learned in college through internships at ALS Hope Foundation, L.E.R. Public Relations, Devine and Partners, and at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Switzerland and Washington, D.C. She also worked in 2016 as an administrative assistant in the International Office at Universiti Tenaga Nasional in Malaysia. Rana developed a passion for global media and international affairs while living in different countries due to her father's work as a diplomat. In her spare time, she enjoys taking long walks around the city, exploring new restaurants, and travelling to exotic destinations.

Pavithra Suresh

Pavithra Suresh

Pavithra is a first-year Intercultural and International Communication student. She hails from Cary, NC and is a proud alumna of a tiny women's college called Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. She completed her undergraduate degree in International Studies, with minor concentrations in Communication, Spanish, and Leadership Studies. Pavithra devoted much of time in undergrad to a project that ultimately became her senior honors thesis; she focused her study on Evo Morales' rhetoric of "decolonization" and the contradictory reality of neoliberal policy in Bolivia. This project fostered in her a love for critical theory and an desire to blur the lines between the academic and the activist. Eventually, Pavithra hopes to pursue a PhD in (Cultural) Anthropology. Her interests include decolonizing methodologies, Brian May from Queen, and dismantling the patriarchy.

Kiara Taylor

Kiara Taylor

Kiara Taylor is a first year Intercultural and International Communications student. Hailing from Miami Florida, Kiara obtained her Bachelor's Degree in International Studies from the illustrious Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. While she was a student, she dedicated at least ten hours a week volunteering at the local elementary school. Kiara also spent a semester studying in Morocco, in an immersive, experience-based program. This experience led to Kiara’s interest in MENA studies and drove her to further her education in the international communications field.Her interests include Public Diplomacy and Intercultural Relations. When Kiara is not studying, she enjoys reading, traveling, and attending concerts.

Clarece Polke

Clarece Polke

Clarece Polke is a first-year graduate student studying International Communication in the School of International Service. A native of Archer, Fla., she is a graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. Previously, she worked as a government regulations reporter for Thomson Reuters and an education reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where her coverage focused on racial and economic equity within predominantly low-income school districts. She also taught journalism at a public elementary school in South Florida through a magnet program sponsored by the Poynter Institute. Her classroom and reporting experience confirmed her research interest in intercultural education, with a focus on educational equity, culturally relevant pedagogy and minority serving institutions.

Sana Vang

Sana Vang

Sana is a first-year student in the Intercultural and International Communication Program. She earned her BA in East Asian Studies from Kalamazoo College, with a double minor in Economics and Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad in China. Due to her passion for US-China relations, she also studied Chinese through the Critical Language Scholarship and earned a certificate in Chinese and American Studies from John Hopkins Nanjing SAIS program. Sana served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with a college-access program in Minnesota, supporting low-income and first generation students. She is passionate about international education, intercultural communication, US-China-India relations and public diplomacy. At SIS, she plans to pursue the public diplomacy concentration in hopes of joining the Foreign Service. Outside of academics, she loves playing badminton, ping pong, watching movies and going for walks.

Naria Willis

Naria Willis

Currently, Naria is a Master's Candidate at American University in the School of International Service studying International and Intercultural Communication with an interest in International Development and Social Enterprise. Naria is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in International Business and a B.A. in Spanish. Recently, Naria worked as a Strategic Communications Intern at the United States Agency of International Development where she utilized social media to advocate agency initiatives and worked on events such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the White House Summit on Global Development. Naria has a strong background in Social Media Marketing shown through her role as a Social Media Marketing Intern at Tri-Force Consulting and as a Google Adcamp participant. Additionally, Naria is a writer for Odyssey and Elite Daily, both online media sites Currently, Naria serves as a Graduate Assistant to AU Abroad Centers at American University.