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Creativity & education drive social change

By Anne Deekens

Headshot of Geeta Raj.

Geeta is proof that incoming graduate students do not necessarily need to come from international affairs backgrounds to thrive at SIS. Raj entered SIS with an undergraduate degree in creative writing and has used her writing skills to amplify her impact in her chosen career. She is the president and founder of The Global Sleepover, a children’s digital storytelling series that teaches children to become global citizens.

“I believe education is one of the most sustainable paths to positive social change,” says Raj. Inspired by her post-graduate work in London for a non-governmental organization, Raj began the International Peace and Conflict Resolution master’s program in fall 2001. At first, she worried that her arts background would prevent her from being able to keep up with her peers, many of whom had served in the Peace Corps and studied political science in college. However, Raj quickly flourished through the guidance of her professors. She even utilized her creative writing skills by launching Chiaroscuro, a literary journal about international affairs issues, with her classmates.

Upon graduation, Raj used her AU network to land a position at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). For eight years, she served as a senior program analyst for USAID offices in Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and South Sudan, before launching The Global Sleepover.

As SIS continues to impact Raj, she in turn impacts SIS. Raj was nominated for the SIS Alumnus/a of the Year award in 2013 and has recruited interns from the school. She advises current students: “Always remember that there are many alumni in Washington, D.C., with whom you can make connections. We have a tight-knit community here. In the back of my mind, I know I will always be supported by our alumni network.”