Lauren Hovis, SIS/MA ‘16, is the American University 2015 recipient of the DACOR Bacon House Foundation Fellowship, a scholarship aimed at enhancing public awareness and fostering educated leadership in international affairs. This enabled her to serve as the interim economic officer for the United States Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this past summer. The article below first appeared in the DACOR Bacon House Foundation's November bulletin.
What has been the most memorable moment for you during your studies?
My most memorable moment during my studies occurred when I was able to use the knowledge I learned from my advanced international economics class in my economic reporting at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I served as the interim economic officer this summer and wrote a cable on monetary policy in Tanzania. I would not have been able to write as extensively on the subject if I had not been equipped with the knowledge from this class. In fact, the Economic Bureau used this particular cable as their “cable of the week” in early August of this year.
Where have you worked or interned during your studies? What have you gained from the experiences?
As mentioned in the previous question, I worked in the political and economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this summer. This was an invaluable experience and the most substantive internship I have ever had. I was able to practice my Kiswahili and briefly live the life of a Foreign Service Officer: I wrote cables, attended government meetings, coordinated a trade delegation and worked with extraordinary people serving their country. I am certainly more inclined to pursue a career in the Foreign Service now than before embarking on this trip.
What are your goals for the future? Have your long-term plans changed as a result of educational work/internship experiences?
I would like to work in the field of political and economic development, particularly in East Africa. Before graduate school and especially my internship at State, I could only see myself working in civil society. After this summer, however, I am more inclined to work in the public sector. No matter which I choose, I hope to advance the rights of those who fall victim to inequitable political and economic systems.
Where have you traveled during your studies?
As an undergraduate, I travelled to Malawi, Belize and Haiti to do international service. Between my junior and senior year of college, I interned with Africa Exchange, an international development organization in Kenya. During my internship I implemented various projects concerning clean water filtration, efficient gardening techniques, curriculum development in child development centers in four villages in Kenya. As mentioned earlier, this summer I interned at the embassy in Dar es Salaam where I worked in the political and economic section. This internship greatly contributed to my graduate school experience.
What has the fellowship allowed you to do that you would not otherwise have been able to do?
Because of my fellowship I was able take the unpaid internship in Dar es Salaam without having to worry about working during the summer in order to save up for my tuition. It also allowed me to reduce my federal student loans by 25 percent. For this, I am extremely grateful and appreciate DACOR’s commitment to investing in the next generation of foreign affairs professionals.
Hovis previously was an interim economic officer in the political and economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is now a graduate student at the School of International Service in the Comparative and Regional Studies master’s program.
The first version of this article appeared in the DACOR Bacon House Foundation's November bulletin.