newsId: DE428857-DB23-DF78-0ABDDE635C8B25CC
Title: Alt Break Endowment Honors Chaplain’s Legacy of Social Justice
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: Named for Alt Break pioneer Joe Eldridge, endowment supports student exploration.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 11/21/2014
Content:

University chaplain Joe Eldridge visits the university pool almost every day for what he calls his “laps of gratitude.” For him, paddling through the cold water is a spiritual experience as much as it is physical exercise. “Thank goodness that I can do this,” he thinks to himself with each lap.

“It is one of those times that you can just be,” he explained. “It’s a meditation.”

His commitment to this practice reflects the dedication he has to his true passion: social justice. Now, a new endowment bearing his name will associate Eldridge with this mission for years to come.

Assistant vice president of Campus Life Fanta Aw spearheaded efforts to create the Joseph T. Eldridge Social Justice Alternative Break Endowment, which will help students with financial need participate in AU’s Alternative Breaks program—a program Eldridge created.

“The Alternative Breaks program is such a valuable program for our students and so in line with the values of this institution, which are social justice and community-based learning,” Aw said. “We’re really celebrating the legacy of a great person, who continues to do this work day in and day out.”

Pioneer in Compassion

In 1999, Eldridge hung a simple flier in the lounge of the Kay Spiritual Life Center. The paper advertised a spring break trip to aid Honduras in relief efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. Students flocked to the opportunity, planting the seeds for what would become a cornerstone of the AU experience.

“The demand was there. We didn’t create the demand,” Eldridge explained. “What was lacking was the supply.”

Responding to that demand, the Alternative Breaks program has expanded under the roof of AU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service to offer around 15 student-led trips across the world each year, during which students explore social justice issues from HIV/AIDS in South Africa to refugees in Israel and beyond.

“It is an important—I would say necessary—complement to the academic learning that takes place here,” said Eldridge, who also serves on the board of directors at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

As Aw points out, however, the university recognizes that the cost of traveling abroad can prove prohibitive for many students seeking such an impactful experience. To that end, she set in motion fundraising efforts for this new endowment.

“We are very aware of the fact that our population is changing and that we have more students coming here who could use a helping hand, especially when it comes to taking advantage of all the programs and experiences that this university offers,” she said. “And Alt Break figures among those.”

Eldridge’s wife Maria Otero believes Aw got it right when naming the endowment for her husband. She points out Eldridge’s 1970 founding of the Washington Office on Latin America, a highly influential organization on human rights in the area.

Though she might be biased, she knows a thing or two about the field; she recently served as Undersecretary of State for Civilian, Democracy, and Human Rights under Former Secretary Hillary Clinton.

“Joe is really one of the founders of the human rights field,” Otero explained. “He’s really dedicated his life to social justice and to ensuring that peace and justice are part of the way in which American University provides education to its students.”

A Legacy to Inspire

While Eldridge has inspired many students to different careers, studies, and life paths through Alternative Breaks, he himself is an alumnus of AU’s International Peace & Conflict Resolution program and of the neighboring Wesley Theological Seminary.

In light of his academic, personal, and professional pursuits in these areas, Otero is thrilled that the endowment will continue her husband’s work decades into the future, just as the Washington Office on Latin America has, now in its 40th year.

“He’s loved working with the students so much that having this be a part of his legacy at AU gives me great joy,” she said.

For Aw, that is exactly what she believes this fund—as well as an AU education—is all about. “We’re first and foremost about students, the student experience,” she explained. “We’re about social justice access. We’re about learning in fundamentally different ways. Communities, in many ways, are an extension of the classroom. We’re about values that we can operationalize.”

In the meantime, Eldridge will continue his daily visits to the university pool, each lap and each step back to his office one of thanks—thanks for the ability to pursue his passions both in and out of the water.

“I’m grateful that folks have given me the privilege to be here,” he said. “It’s a great gift to be where I am.”

Support the Joseph T. Eldridge Social Justice Alternative Break Endowment.

Tags: Alternative Break Club,Campus Life,Campus News,Community Service Center,Kay Spiritual Life Center,Office of Campus Life,School of International Service
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Title: Professor Participates in High-Level UN Advisory Group
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Last month, SIS Associate Professor Charles “Chuck” Call was part of a United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) advisory group that submitted its final report to the UN Secretary-General.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 11/12/2014
Content:

Last month, SIS Associate Professor Charles “Chuck” Call was part of a United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) advisory group that submitted its final report to the UN Secretary-General.

The PBF is a global fund that supports post-conflict peacebuilding initiatives. It was established by the Secretary-General in 2006, following a request from the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

Call was named to the PBF advisory group by the UN Secretary-General in 2012, along with nine other peacebuilding and conflict resolution experts from around the world. Call, an expert on post-war peacebuilding, post-conflict governance and reconstruction in Latin America and the Caribbean, recently returned to SIS after a year at the U.S. State Department where he served as Senior Advisor for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. 

The PBF is meant to assist countries emerging from conflict. It supports peacebuilding activities that contribute to post-conflict stabilization and that strengthen the capacity of governments, national and local institutions, and transitional or other relevant authorities. 

The PBF advisory group was tasked with assessing the fund’s work and making recommendations to improve its capacity. The advisory group focused on four strategic priorities: expand the role of women in peacebuilding, improve monitoring and evaluation, coordinate and work with international financial institutions, and hone strategic positioning. 

In presenting the report to the Secretary-General, advisory group chair Ambassador Jan Knutsson of Sweden noted that the PBF has proven to be a unique instrument with a strong track record of providing flexible and timely support to address key peacebuilding issues in settings where other funding was not readily available. 

The advisory group noted that it has seen a number of improvements over the past three years, including in the fund’s monitoring and evaluation, partnerships with other organizations, and gender-responsiveness.

“It was a privilege to learn from some of the world’s experts on peacebuilding in the advisory group and to work with UN staff who are tasked with responding quickly to some of the most challenging conflict environments in the world,” said Call. “I was able to contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of the UN peacebuilding efforts and gain some insights for our students about the intricacies of the United Nations.”

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Title: Student Gains Research Experience on HIV Study
Author: Molly Maguire-Marshall, SIS/MA ‘15
Subtitle:
Abstract: Assistant Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria DeJesus led a collaborative and cross-disciplinary research project last year assessing the HIV risk for Latino men in Washington, D.C. who have sex with men.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 11/03/2014
Content:

Assistant Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria DeJesus led a collaborative and cross-disciplinary research project last year assessing the HIV risk for Latino men in Washington, D.C. who have sex with men. We asked SIS student Molly Maguire Marshall, who worked on the project, to share her experience with us:

The graduate programs at the School of International Service appeal to potential students for many reasons. For me personally, the most appealing aspect was the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with faculty members who were also practitioners and researchers.  

As a graduate research assistant, I was fortunate to work on a qualitative health study focused on the social and structural contexts of HIV risk for Latino immigrant men who have sex with men in Washington, D.C. I had some prior experience in qualitative methodology through participatory action research with community projects during my Peace Corps service in Ecuador, but additional formal training was something I was eager to seek out at SIS.  

As part of a team of graduate students, we were trained by Professors Nina Yamanis and Maria de Jesus in qualitative methodology and ethics. Our comprehensive training felt like a methods research course, with an added field work component. We were able to apply the methods we had learned and come back together as a team to share our experiences and make adjustments as necessary.  

Some days I went home from our training sessions and talked my roommates into doing mock interviews with me in order to practice interview techniques and become more familiar with the interview questions. Due to the HIV focus of our study, many of the questions about sexual practices and behaviors were quite personal, and I wanted to be as comfortable as possible with the interview guide. After our training and preparation, we went into the field not just as graduate students, but as fellow researchers playing a significant role in the data collection of the research study. Professors Yamanis and de Jesus involved us as much as possible in the study, which not all primary investigators take the time to do. Their deliberate efforts to include us not just as data collectors but as part of a research team greatly enhanced our learning.  

An important aspect of qualitative research is that data collection often happens through face-to-face interactions, such as the interviews in our study. This adds a personal component to the research topic and makes it much easier to begin to understand and address complex issues like HIV through lived experiences.  

Our study found relationships between HIV risk behaviors and the effects of lack of documentation for immigrants, such as unstable housing and employment, lack of access to health care and legal services, and negative effects on mental health through loneliness and isolation. We have shared our preliminary findings with our partner organization Empoderate at La Clinicia del Pueblo in Washington, D.C. and several papers are forthcoming. Ultimately, we plan to write a grant proposal for an intervention with this demographic that focuses on addressing the social and structural barriers we identified and explored. 

During my two years of work as a research assistant, I learned through hands-on involvement in the many phases and processes involved in research studies. This included initial literature reviews, the development of consent forms, interview guides, and surveys, data collection, analyzing the data, and presenting preliminary themes and findings. Many of the technical skills that I learned and honed in graduate school were from my work as a research assistant. 

My research work experience was a kind of curriculum parallel to my coursework, often intersecting and reinforcing what I was learning in my classes. I now confidently consider myself a researcher, and know that I will continue to apply these skills in my work as a development practitioner.

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Title: Spotlight on the NRSD Program
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: The Natural Resource and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual MA degree program is housed in the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/31/2014
Content:

The Natural Resource and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual MA degree program is housed in the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program. NRSD graduates earn two masters degrees, one in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service and another in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. We interviewed Dr. Judith Shapiro, Director of the NRSD program for AU (Professor Brian Dowd-Uribe directs the program for the University for Peace) to learn more:

Tell us about the NRSD program. 

JS: I have directed the NRSD program for AU since its inception more than a decade ago and feel more strongly than ever that it is a very special program. The two-year course of study combines professional experience and coursework in Washington, DC, which is a global center of power in the environment and development policymaking world, and applied fieldwork and additional coursework in Costa Rica, which is a gloriously beautiful country that is a pioneer in sustainability in the Global South. 

The program is a unique collaboration between two extraordinary schools. The School of International Service (SIS) is one of the world’s leading institutions of international studies. The UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), is an all-graduate, 200-student school set in a beautiful nature reserve on a mountainside outside the capital, and is dedicated to the study of peace, sustainability, and justice. The combination provides an unforgettable graduate experience. 

What is the core mission/vision of the NRSD dual MA program? 

JS: The dual degree program offers students the opportunity to gain an international policymaking perspective while based in Washington, DC before transitioning to a year of applied sustainable development and natural resource management studies at UPEACE. Students have the opportunity to move from the macro to the micro and back again, thereby developing a unique appreciation for the challenges of sustainable development and a toolkit of skills that allows them to make a meaningful contribution to efforts to address them. 

We aim to incubate committed, passionate professionals. Our hope is that all of our graduates will gain the skills and self-knowledge to find meaningful and effective niches in the broad field of sustainable development and that they will be uniquely qualified to engage with the core challenges facing the planet. 

What are some things your program does to further your students professionally? 

JS: We have a terrific alumni network made up of people who have chosen to stay involved with the program and share internship and job leads, return to campus to speak about their experiences, and help current students make wise choices. We encourage NRSD students to find an internship when they arrive in DC, even if it’s just one afternoon a week. Our courses often include field trips to places like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, and we invite professionals into the classroom. 

While students are at UPEACE, much of their experience is applied learning, which helps them develop unique skills that are highly valued as they enter the job market. Finally, the capstone experience sets students up well for the next steps. If they do an extensive research project, they gain deep expertise in a specific topic; if they do a practicum, then they build direct experience with partners such as the World Resources Institute, the Rural Farm Coalition, the District of Columbia Government, the U.S. Department of State, and AU’s Office of Sustainability. 

This year, a new practicum, for the Natural Resources Defense Council, focuses on establishing a framework for evaluating and monitoring the voluntary commitments that governments, corporations, and other institutions are making in the lead-up to the 2015 climate change negotiations. Experiences like this can position students well in the job market. 

Describe the students in your program: 

JS: We have a fantastic group of students! I think the unusual structure of the program attracts adventurous, special people. Our students are often outdoorsy, creative, and highly motivated. I love working with them. Almost all of them come to the program with prior professional experience, so they know clearly why they have returned to graduate school in this particular field. Many are returned Peace Corps volunteers. The students’ varied and interesting life experiences are one of the program’s greatest strengths. I’d also like to note that our faculty members are outstanding. All are committed to our students even as they conduct cutting-edge research in such topics as water governance, political ecology of food and agriculture, peri-urban sustainability, climate justice, and geoengineering. 

What do they tend to do after graduation? 

JS: After graduation, a fair number of students find work at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of State—in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and at USAID. But we have graduates in almost every major environmental non-governmental organization and consulting firm, as well as some who choose to move to rural areas to run organic farms or work in renewable energy or local conservation initiatives. Some live overseas working on (or even running) country programs such as those for the United Nations Development Program, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or Catholic Relief Services. Some pursue a Ph.D. I try to stay in touch with them via LinkedIn and am always interested to see where they are five, ten, and fifteen years after graduation. I should also mention that NRSD students compete very well for national scholarships like the David I. Boren Fellowship and the Fulbright. 

Tell us about your own research and areas of expertise: 

JS: I’m actually a China specialist, not a Latin America specialist. I’ve published many books on human rights and environmental issues, most recently Mao’s War against Nature (Cambridge University) and China’s Environmental Challenges (Polity). Because environmental degradation in China is such a hot topic, I give a lot of media interviews and public lectures. Recently, I’ve become very interested in China’s global impact, as the country seeks to meet its vast resource needs and export some of its pollution. There was a nice marriage of my interests last spring, when I was the faculty supervisor for a practicum we did for the World Resources Institute on the impact of Chinese investment in Peru’s mining sector. The students produced an outstanding report. At the moment, I’m focusing on the second edition of China’s Environmental Challenges and will be adding more of this international material. That’s what I expect to be working on when I make my annual visit to the University for Peace next month! 

To learn more about the NRSD dual degree program, please visit www.american.edu/sis/gep and www.upeace.org.

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Title: AU a Top Contributor in Teach For America’s Most Diverse Corps To Date
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU graduates find success and opportunity with Teach For America despite an increasingly competitive selection process.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Content:

For the past several years, AU has joined the likes of Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown University as one of Teach for America's (TFA) Top Contributors, a list that features schools with the most graduates sent to TFA each year.

This year, 21 AU graduates joined the most diverse teaching cohort in the nonprofit's history. Almost half of TFA's more than 50,000 applicants identified as people of color, nearly half received Pell Grants, and more than one-third were the first in their family to attend college.

Despite an increasingly competitive admissions process and an overall acceptance rate of just 15 percent, AU students continue to succeed. 

TFA recruiter Seon Jeon has an idea why AU students tend to do well in the application process.

"[AU students] are very strong candidates: competitive, social justice-driven, and often engaged in the D.C. community," she says. "They really understand the depth and breadth of education inequity, and they want to do something about it."

AU students are often passionate about social issues and looking for ways to enact positive change in the world, and for some, TFA is the best way to do that.

Cheria Funches, SPA/BA '14, started her time with TFA this fall, teaching at an elementary school in New Orleans. 

"My experience so far has been eye-opening," she says. "You learn so much about yourself through this experience, and it is extremely important that you have a growth mindset at all times."

Funches says she first heard about TFA at on-campus information sessions, and that she received support from her mentors at AU and from the local TFA recruiter in deciding to apply. 

"I am passionate about education reform, specifically in urban districts, and a lot of my mentors thought the best place to start would be on the ground level as a teacher," she says.

TFA continues to grow and refine its selection process to recruit top candidates. Its most recent corps had an average GPA of 3.4 and included more than 30 student-body presidents and nine Gates Millennium Scholars. 

"TFA is looking for people with leadership skills and a passion for social justice," says SPA career advisor, Jennifer Carignan. "In your application, you want to show how your background—work experience, internships, volunteer work—demonstrates that kind of passion and commitment to TFA's goals and ideals."

Funches is glad she applied. After TFA, she plans to work as a school administrator with the hope of one day opening her own school and working on education policy at the national level. For now, she is taking it one class at a time. 

"These students will remember you forever, and the impact you make on their lives will change your life as well," says Funches. "The relationships you build with the students in your region will be the start of an amazing journey."

 

The next deadlines to apply for Teach For America are December 5 and January 30.

Tags: Career Center,Career Center Services,Career Development,College of Arts and Sciences,School of Communication,School of Education, Teaching and Health,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,SIS Career
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Title: Returning to the Other Side of the Table
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU alumni advise and recruit current students at the Job & Internship Fair.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Content:

"There is always more than one way to approach the passion you want to pursue," says Kayla Ma, CAS/SIS/BA '14. "You're excluding exciting possibilities if you limit yourself."

This time last year Ma was starting an internship with the USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG), an internship she found through a Career Center email. After graduating in the spring with a dual degree in Arabic studies and international relations, she was offered a full-time position with OIG. 

Now she's back as a recruiter for her organization, and she's not alone. 

Of the recruiters who came to represent over 140 organizations at the fall Job and Internship Fair, 40 were AU alumni—a fact that Pat Oltmann, the Career Center's alumni program coordinator, says is great for everyone involved. 

"Not only does meeting alumni allow current students to make an instant connection, it also shows them what's possible," says Oltmann. "On the alumni side, they know what our programs are all about, and seem consistently happy with our students and what they have to offer."

These and other recruiting events are also a chance for alumni to provide current students with the kind of opportunities they themselves benefited from. 

Grant Steinhauser, KSB/BS/BA '13, understands this personally. An AU alum recruited him for a position at Ryan, LLC, the company he now represents. His advice to current students: on-campus recruiting. 

"It's so easy when you have the ability to interview at Kogod or the Career Center," he says. "You've got to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you as a student at AU. There's no excuse not to."

Steinhauser was active in developing his own professional opportunities. He says he went to multiple interviews as a student and that each experience helped him learn what to expect and how to present himself. 

Roopa Purohit, SOC/BA '04, sees that kind of dedication and energy every time she returns to campus. She is the development and communications manager at Everybody Wins! DC, a literacy education nonprofit where she has been working for eight years. 

"AU students tend to be well-prepared and proactive," says Purohit. "It's good to see freshmen at the Fair, because it means they're already on the right track." Everybody Wins! DC was itself founded by an AU alum who wanted to give back to the community.

Instead of simply adding a student's resume to a pile, Janice Chiverton, SIS/MS '10, gives grateful students tips on how to improve and make their resumes stand out. Chiverton, who works for the Administrative Office of the Courts, says her time at AU played a key role in helping her make her way in the world. After growing up with few economic advantages, she wants to make sure others can benefit from the experience and knowledge she's acquired in her career.

"Every day is a job interview," she says. "Keep your eyes open, read everything, and pay attention. If no one else wants a particular assignment, take it on for the experience. Be smart and engage with the work, and you'll naturally get yourself noticed."

Seuk Kim, KSB/MBA '05, vice president at SunStar Strategic, notices how potential applicants present themselves, and wants current students not to forget about the little things.

"Pay attention to anything that will make you stand out. Like printing your resume on resume paper," says Kim. He also mentions that whether networking online or in person, "Being from the same school gives you an opening."

Marc St. Hilaire, career advisor for the School of International Service, has more to say on that point.

"All good networking starts from a point of commonality," says St. Hilaire. "Current AU students have that potential for instant rapport with alumni, thanks to their shared experiences. People genuinely like to be helpful, and that's especially true for people they have this kind of connection with."

Those connections were easily apparent at the Job & Internship Fair. As Ma accepted resumes from students, a former classmate of hers spotted her through the crowd and ran up, smiling, to give her a hug. 

Networking is a lot friendlier when you call the same school home.

 

Current students and alumni are encouraged to attend upcoming Student-Alumni Networking Receptions. The first reception is November 13, 7:00-8:30 p.m. in MGC 3-5.

Tags: Career Center,Career Center Services,Career Development,College of Arts and Sciences,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,SIS Career,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Mentoring Programs Give Students a Step Up
Author: Karli Kloss
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Abstract: The School of International Service’s Student-Alumni Mentoring Program has kicked off its sixth year with over sixty student-alumni matches.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Content:

The School of International Service’s Student-Alumni Mentoring Program has kicked off its sixth year with over sixty student-alumni matches. The program is designed to bridge the gap between the classroom and the professional world, by matching students with alumni mentors.

The program helps students develop the professional skills that will help them get internships, jobs, and ultimately set them on the path for success. The alumni mentors review resumes, discuss networking and interviewing tips, and provide industry advice to students looking at their post-graduate career options.  

SIS seniors and graduate students applied to this competitive program for a chance to be matched with an SIS alumnus/a for an academic year and gain a competitive edge as they enter the job market. It is a diverse and international group of students representing most of the school’s degree programs. 

The school’s alumni participants reflect the varied interests of the international service field, working in defense and intelligence, development, business and finance, non-profit and federal sectors. The mentors are Foreign Service Officers, executives, analysts, lawyers, federal workers, and industry professionals.  

Those that work in the Washington, DC area are able to provide advice on navigating the sometimes complicated hiring process inside the Beltway. Not all SIS alumni and students choose to settle in Washington of course, and there are long-distance mentors that connect with their mentees online from New York, California, Austria, China, and many other places around the world.  

The program gathers formally at AU three times a year so participants can meet other students and alumni that share their particular professional interests. The program provides personal, one-on-one career counseling to SIS students, while allowing students and alumni to build their professional networks. For those local to DC, in-person meetings between matches are encouraged, while long-distance matches connect via email, Skype, and FaceTime. 

The alumni who volunteer their time to mentor are passionate about both their time at AU and their current professions. Many students have gone on to secure internships and interviews through the guidance of their mentors. Alumni applicants are eager to share industry insights, provide guidance to students, and in many ways “pay it forward” to the mentors they had when they were students.

Learn more about the Student-Alumni Mentoring Program.

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Title: AU Students Tour Solar Power Farm Set To Supply University
Author: Ravi Raman and Sam Sheline
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Abstract: Students visited the largest of three solar power sites that together will provide 50 percent of American University's electricity needs by the end of 2015.
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Content:

"This is the best field trip I've ever been on!" beamed Leah Carriere, moments after disembarking from a Bell 429 helicopter, its rotors winding down behind her. Carriere was one of ten graduate students who joined Chris O'Brien, director of the Office of Sustainability, in Elizabeth City, NC, for a tour of Capital Partners Solar Project, the largest non-utility solar installation east of the Mississippi. The students, from the Kogod School of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of International Service, visited the largest of three solar power sites that together will provide 50 percent of American University's electricity needs by the end of 2015.

AU's ambitious goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2020 requires the university to devise innovative ways to bring green electricity to the campus. To that end, the arrangement that created the Capital Partners Solar Project is a landmark achievement for type and scope. Teaming up with George Washington University and the George Washington University Hospital, AU brokered a deal with Duke Energy Renewables – the utility company handling power distribution – to create three large solar farms within the three entities' grid system. This means that while the actual electrons created by the solar panels will be used in and around Elizabeth City, they in turn reduce demand for coal and gas-fired "brown" energy in the same grid system from which AU and its partners at George Washington draw their power. This switch is equivalent to taking 12,500 cars off the road annually.

The deal also makes financial sense for AU and its partners. Traditional, extraction-based power generation faces market volatility and increasing regulatory pressure. The cost of the raw materials for brown power generation can be quite high and make unpredictable swings. Sunlight is free. The 20-year deal with Duke provides fixed-commodity pricing at a rate lower than the current mix of "brown" sources of electricity. Factoring in an increase in brown power prices over time, the solar purchase could yield $14 million in total savings throughout the 20-year deal.

AU currently buys renewable energy credits (RECs) equivalent to 100 percent of its electricity. But those RECs are from a mix of projects across the U.S. and those sources change over time. Those RECs are "unbundled" from the green power that produces them. By committing to purchase the power and the RECs from the Capital Partners Solar Project, AU has locked in its green power supply for two decades at a fixed price. In this way, the supplier is guaranteed to have a customer, which reduces risk and results in a better price.

"In addition to securing our own green power supply, the bigger benefit of this project is that it can be used for education," according to O'Brien. "AU's own carbon footprint is small when compared to the climate challenge as a whole. But if we can teach students to understand the opportunities created by this challenge, they can replicate projects like this one, and innovate new solutions of their own. That is where an educational institution can really have an impact."

The students on the field trip are studying sustainability in various disciplines, including business, science, policy, and development. They met with representatives from Duke Energy Renewables and SunEnergy1, the contractor handling construction. Sustainability faculty and staff from Elizabeth City State University also joined the group to learn how the University of North Carolina system of schools might replicate this landmark deal to provide renewable energy for their own campuses.

The students also looked forward to touring the installation site. However, their enthusiasm turned to excitement when they found out that the tour would not only include a walk-through of the active construction site, but an aerial view by helicopter as well.

From aboard the helicopter, the students got a breathtaking view of the late afternoon sun glinting off the small area where the installation of solar panels had already begun. Teams of about a dozen workers were mounting self-rotating, three-foot-by-five-foot polychrystalline panels to their housings. The panels were wired up 10 to a row, 40 to a group, and repeated across the landscape. Although less than one-fourth of the panels were installed at the time of the students' visit, all of the panels were expected to be in place within three to four weeks. The entire site spans more than 400 acres of what was previously agricultural land. In all, the three separate installation sites will house 243,000 panels and produce 52 megawatts (MW) of power.

The first site will begin power generation later this year and the other two sites will be online by the end of next year, when AU will be able to enjoy power without a carbon footprint made possible by this landmark green energy deal.

Tags: Business,College of Arts and Sciences,Environment,Green,Kogod School of Business,Office of Finance & Treasurer,School of International Service,Sustainability Programs,Featured News
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newsId: 349AC9CE-E21A-D101-71F03EE8EDA0EEE6
Title: Race and Reparations
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates will appear at American University in November.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/27/2014
Content:

McCabe Lecture Series

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an incisive public intellectual and a rising star in journalism. As both a national correspondent and blogger for The Atlantic, he's written penetrating essays on race, politics, popular culture, and social justice.

In an explosive June 2014 Atlantic cover story, Coates argued that centuries of slavery and systematic racism should be addressed with reparations for African-Americans. "An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future," he wrote.

On November 5, Coates will appear in Ward 1 to discuss ideas from his article. The event is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office as part of the McCabe Lecture Series. He'll give a 45-minute talk, followed by a moderated discussion and questions from the audience.

Moral Justification

American University faculty members interviewed say there is a moral justification for a historic redress.

"There was deliberate and direct harm being perpetrated against African-Americans both before and after slavery, and even continuing into the present day," says Theresa Runstedtler, an associate professor in the History Department in CAS.

"The argument is that there was unpaid labor for centuries, and that labor helped to build the country. And if there's going to be any movement towards acknowledging and recognizing that, then there needs to be compensation," says Clarence Lusane, a professor in the School of International Service. "It's not about whether there are black millionaires, or some black people are doing fine. It's a historic injustice that needs to be made right."

Everything is Connected

In The Souls of Black Folk, sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois famously wrote that "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line." Even in the age of Obama, faculty members say the problem persists in the twenty-first century. For evidence, look no further than the recent turmoil over a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Coates tied together many different facets of white racism—slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining and housing discrimination—in making his case. AU professors agreed that racial inequality should be understood holistically.

"You can draw a cultural and economic line from the end of slavery to the prison-industrial complex, where the Black Codes enabled the infrastructure of the South to be built by prison labor," says Celine-Marie Pascale, a sociology professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies in CAS. "You can't separate the [current] mass incarceration of people of color—in particular young men of color—from that kind of a labor system."

"The thing that connects everything across time is the structural dimension of white supremacy," says Runstedtler, who teaches African-American history. "Coates refutes this notion that, 'Well, African-Americans must have done it to themselves.' There was no break in the oppression. It just continued."

Lack of Talk, Lack of Action

Some AU professors believe the U.S. never came to grips with its racist past, and there's little dialogue about rectifying current racial inequities.

Pascale compares the American predicament to post-apartheid South Africa, where she spent time in 2006. Though reconciliation there hasn't gone well, she says, there are refreshingly candid discussions about race. "When I turned on the television, everybody had a story about apartheid. They talked about it," she explains. "Without even the commitment here to talking frankly about racial realities, we're kind of lost."

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, has been introducing his H.R. 40 reparations bill (named for the forty acres and a mule that freed slaves were originally promised) every congressional term since 1989. It's a modest measure—simply establishing a commission to study reparation proposals—yet it has gone nowhere.

Why the resistance to such a debate? Professors say confronting historic, structural racism in the U.S. raises all sorts of questions about national identity and white privilege. "This idea of American exceptionalism and being this beacon of democracy and the free market on the world stage—it's not consistent with this history," says Runstedtler. "Coates is right in saying that we at least need to have the conversation. And the reluctance to have the conversation is in some ways more troubling than the lack of a solution."

In addition, misconceptions about reparations might impede efforts to implement them. "When I think about reparations, there's a mistaken idea that this means, 'Oh, the government will cut a check for so much money to each person,'" says Pascale. "With reparations, I think about investing in communities that have been historically disenfranchised—so building the infrastructure of good educational systems and good health care systems."

Lusane says reparations could be devised a variety of ways, with multiple elements included. "That gives latitude to how you can address the issue, once you accept it as a moral commitment," he says. This could mean grants, government programs, a monument, or other measures. "The most significant thing, though, is whether there is a public acknowledgment."

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Title: Scholarship Recipient Hopes to Change Africa’s Narrative
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU Emerging Global Leader Scholar Biggie Tangane plans to support a new Africa.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 10/24/2014
Content:

Portrayals

As a boy of 11 years old seated in front of his family’s television in Botswana, Biggie Tangane didn’t like what he saw.

“Watching an American series I’d see happy people, then the next thing is CNN,” where he recalled witnessing only hopeless images of starving children in his native Africa. “I always wondered as a young boy why things had to be like that—why I had to have that story when my American counterpart had another.”

In pondering those questions, Tangane set himself on a course that would take him across oceans, countries, and hemispheres on a mission toward bettering his home continent through bettering himself.

“I wanted to develop my mind,” he said. “I thought I could use that to actually make a difference, to change the story of Africa.”

Now a senior in AU’s School of International Service, he stands ready to graduate, ready to better his homeland—and all this due in large part to the recently established AU Emerging Global Leader Scholarship, or AU EGLS. He was the first to receive the prestigious honor, which is reserved for one international student per year and comes with a full ride to AU.

Mutual Admiration

Tangane describes his hometown of Gaborone—Botswana’s capital—as a sleepy town, a less frenetic version of Johannesburg in neighboring South Africa.

“There’s traffic once in a while,” he explained. “It’s a place you’d go to retire, if you want a nice peaceful place with good infrastructure.”

He grew up there, the youngest of five children to a businessman father and social worker mother, but for high school, he set his sights abroad. Tangane attended Johannesburg’s African Leadership Academy after being selected as part of an incoming 100-student class from a competitive pool of 2,500 applicants from all across Africa.

Before long, his college choices narrowed to one place—American University.

“I looked at the campus life, the student life, and what current students were saying about AU before I applied. That’s when I was sold,” he said. “I liked the international vibe of the campus, and it’s got students from all over America; so it’s a very diverse community.”

Tangane’s interest in AU proved to be mutual. In fact, having just written the terms of the EGL scholarship, director of international admissions Evelyn Levinson found the young Batswana’s application more than compelling.

“Biggie is the vision I had in mind when I wrote the scholarship,” she said. “He has a quiet dignity about him. There’s so much maturity there.”

Per Levinson’s vision, the scholarship targets students that demonstrate commitment to leadership, volunteerism, community service, and to advancing the needs of people in their home country. Additionally, applicants must hold a high school GPA of at least 3.8 or be in the top 10% of their graduating class.

Essentially, she was looking for Tangane.

New Image

Since coming to AU, Tangane has made the most of opportunities both on and off campus. He recently interned at the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and he’s gained experience through time at the World Bank.

As part of the African Students’ Organization on campus, he sought out African connections in the Washington, D.C., community through the NGO Friends of the Congo and a regular gathering of young African expats at a café in town.

“I’ve taken a lot of classes that have sharpened my skills,” he said. “AU has also helped me with internships.”

Though already studying abroad here in the U.S., he took a semester to explore another continent: Europe. He participated in AU's European Union in Action Program in Brussels that looks at how the E.U. began and how it supports member nations. Tangane has lobbied for an AU study abroad that looks at economic development in Africa, hoping to peak others’ interest in the positive changes he plans to support.

Combining his family background of business and social work with his international education as an AU EGL, Tangane looks to alter Africa’s narrative, just as he decided to do almost a decade ago as a young boy in front of his television.

“A lot of young Africans are changing the system,” he said, “and I see myself being a part of that, changing the story of Africa.”

Tags: Admissions,Africa,African Students' Organization,Campus Life,Campus News,International,International Business,International Scholar and Student Services,International Students,Office of Campus Life,School of International Service,Featured News
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newsId: 65DAC901-A6A4-8974-68EDC272F0D9A737
Title: SIS Graduate Student Studies Development in Africa
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kafia Ahmed, second year SIS graduate student in IPCR interned in Kenya.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/13/2014
Content:

Kafia Ahmed, a second year SIS graduate student in IPCR, focusing on development in East Africa and prevention of gender-based violence, interned in Kenya this past summer and shared her experience with us:

SIS: Describe the organization you interned for and the type of work that you did.

KA: Adeso is a humanitarian and development organization that is changing the way people think about and deliver aid in Africa. It is an NGO in Africa working in a very different way than most. It believes that development must come from within, not outside African communities (i.e. Africans themselves must determine Africa’s future) and that while international aid has provided much-needed support, it often falls short of enabling lasting change at the grassroots level. Adeso wants to change this by creating and utilizing strong bonds with African communities. 

I worked with many of the organization’s existing projects and supported a variety of central functions during my time there. I learned a lot about the organization by doing the tasks put in front of me and spent a lot of time interacting with the other staff to plan and execute projects.

SIS: Are you still in contact with the organization? 

KA: I was mentored by the organization’s Regional Communications and Advocacy Manager who I am still in touch with and currently working with to support some of the organization’s projects while I am now back in D.C.  

SIS: Describe the value of international education in relation to your own personal experience.

KA: It's difficult to learn about the world without getting there and experiencing it for yourself. No one can teach you the same way that travel can. You have to get out there and see what kind of person you can become, by challenging yourself. 

SIS: What specifically about your program abroad did you find helpful/useful? 

KA: The fact that I was given real work to do and not busy ‘intern’ work really made it a meaningful experience for me. It showed me what I could potentially be doing if I worked there full time and taught me skills needed for future work in the field. 

SIS: How did your study abroad experience influence your career aspirations? 

KA: My internship abroad was a look inside the exact kind of work I hope to do after finishing my degree. It allowed me to experience what real life conditions are for doing important work abroad and the challenges as well as the meaningful impact that are part of it. It enabled me see another piece of the picture and how I can be a part of it one day.  

SIS: What were the most challenging or difficult aspects of your program and how did you overcome them? 

KA: My biggest challenge was not getting in my own way and allowing myself to take on tasks that scared me and rising to the challenge.

SIS: How beneficial do you think it is to have this program on your resume or international experience, in general? 

KA: I think that this experience shows that I am a good candidate for the kind of work that I want to do, it shows that I am capable and have the skills set they seek.  

SIS: What kind of professional skills did you develop during your time abroad? 

KA: Timeliness, organization, and how to ask for help when I need it.

SIS: What advice can you offer to other study abroad students? 

KA: Think about what kind of job you’d like to do when you graduate and pursue an internship with an organization that has an opportunity like that. Find the person who has that job and ask them how they got to where they are.  

SIS: How did your time abroad influence your studies at SIS or academic interests, in general? 

KA: My experience showed me that the career path I’ve chosen is the right one for me and that I can actually succeed and thrive in my chosen field. 

SIS: Would you recommend the program to your peers or if the internship site interested in receiving more AU students? 

KA: I would highly recommend this internship to anyone interested in East Africa and dignified development solutions. Others can reach out to me and the SIS International Programs Office if they are interested in interning with Adeso.  

SIS: Does your career goal relate to your international experience?

KA: Yes.

SIS: Is there anything else that you wish to say about your experience? 

KA: Feel free to read the blog entries I wrote while there: http://kafiainkenya.blogspot.com/

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Title: From a Semester in Norway to a Career in International Education: Caitlin Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Author:
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Abstract: Profile of Caitlyn Murphy, SIS/MA '14
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/06/2014
Content:

Caitlin Murphy is a recent alumna of the SIS International Communications program who spent a semester studying abroad in Norway with one of the SIS partner institutions, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. After graduation, Caitlin accepted a position at Lebanon Valley College as the Associate Director of Global Education. She now manages all international aspects at the College from international student recruitment and advising to study abroad programs. During her time as a student in the International Communication program, Caitlin focused her studies on international education.

SIS: Describe your experience abroad during your degree program at SIS

CM: I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Norway. I worked with the SIS International Programs Office and was placed in regular graduate classes at NMBU with all the other students studying there. It was a complete immersion and I not only took classes there that were different from those at SIS, but I learned so much about the country and culture of Norway. I also was able to travel around a lot on the weekends.  

SIS: Describe the value of international education in relation to your own personal experience 

CM: International education is the most inexpensive catalyst, energizer, therapy, and mirror that anyone could ask for. The experience challenges at the onset, evokes curiosity, leads to triumph and confidence, which in turn, with some reflection, is the key to all future trials and tribulations. The power to thrive somewhere else has been jumpstarted with such an experience and that is something that students can take with them for the rest of their lives.

SIS: How did your study abroad experience influence your career aspirations?

CM: Although I have studied abroad a few times before, this experience was even more transformative than I could have imagined. I met people from all around the world, I gained more spontaneity and courage, and lastly I gained genuine empathy for circumstances I had never experienced until I was five months in Norway making sense of my early 20s and my future. While I had a sense of how to navigate trains and airplanes before, I learned much more about ferries and fjords. That may seem irrelevant, but now I know that I need to be in a place that values the great outdoors, and mountains are a must.  

SIS: What advice do you offer to a study abroad student?

CM: My advice is to do everything you can. Do the things that scare you most, for the biggest risks yield the biggest rewards. Make yourself uncomfortable in times when you can make others comfortable, and you will learn to develop meaningful friendships and lasting experiences. Do not think of study abroad as a static experience. Once you have lived somewhere else, you begin to start a life with a group of people; that doesn't have to end when it's over. Reflect, communicate, and motivate yourself to stay connected elsewhere as you continue to expand your options and your world back home.  

SIS: What specifically about your program abroad did you find helpful/useful? 

CM: My program was a taste of a completely different education system. I was not accustomed to simply hearing lectures and then taking final exams that were worth large parts of my grade. While initially I was worried and annoyed about the grading process, I realized that many other students have lived this way forever and survived. I thought, why can't I? I will be better for it in the end and I will become more adaptable in my test-taking skills, and it turned out to be beneficial in the end. It has made me more flexible and a bit more stress free. 

SIS: What were the most challenging or difficult aspects of your program and how did you overcome them? 

CM: The most challenging aspect of my program was learning to balance my budget in one of the most expensive cities of the world. Some of my favorite pastimes were difficult to fulfill because such activities were extremely expensive. However, I tried new activities and did many more things with friends in our apartment complex on campus. For example, instead of eating out we cooked in -- it was during these times that we shared cultural traditions and nuances. I practiced my language skills and laughed over foreign music or entertainment. The little moments truly make the entire experience; that is the secret.  

SIS: How beneficial do you think it is to have this program on your resume or international experience, in general? 

CM: Because of my work in international education, having a network outside of the United States is always vital. Also, because I lived with international students from all around the world, I was fortunate to make lasting connections and great friendships with these people. Now I have a little network to call on for visits, favors, advice and so on as I continue in my work.  

SIS: What kind of professional skills did you develop during your time abroad? 

CM: In Norway, I was exposed to sustainability, international development, poverty, and economics through my coursework. These frameworks are vital for my future in international education and how I will conceptualize my work. While the following are not professional skills, they have served me after my time in Norway. I learned how to cook all sorts of international foods, as I was surrounded by international students. I also learned how to cross country ski, swing dance, and improved on my Italian language speaking, oddly enough. 

SIS: How did your time abroad influence your studies at SIS or academic interests, in general? 

CM: I knew going into graduate school that I wanted to study abroad so I made sure to focus on my core courses to start. This actually made me much more focused my first year and encouraged me to take additional credits, such as Skills Institute Courses. Taking on additional work to start and allowing myself more creativity towards the end of my program truly gave me a strong foundation to grow in whatever direction I wanted to at the end of my program with elective credits and thesis work abroad.  

SIS: Would you recommend the program to your peers? 

CM: I think every SIS student SHOULD study abroad. There may only be so many chances to have such an uninterrupted time period to go and explore. Even if you have done it before, every experience, new place, and new face you make can be the difference in where you end up. As SIS students, we need to practice what we preach and get out into the world MORE.  

SIS: Does your career goal relate to you international experience? CM: I hope one day to be working abroad, in some sort of educational or training capacity. Seeing Norway has opened my eyes to a desirable country, but also a great and interesting case study to an education system that is a bit unique. 

SIS: Is there anything else that you wish to say about your experience? 

CM: My experience in Norway is still so central to not only my life but my entire essence. During my experience, I faced new life obstacles, and many roads were converging at once: saying goodbye to friends, graduation, getting a job, moving, and other relationship changes. Being in Norway at the time allowed me to think objectively and with new eyes that were not exhausted by my daily routine of who I was and where I was going. This new context truly provided a new canvas and the experiences I had and the friends I made colored this for me in ways I couldn't have imagined by the time I returned home. I am still working on this "painting" in a sense, but I think, breathe, and dream about Norway and those experiences still.  

There was a story that the Norwegian Embassy did on me during my first or second week in Norway. I also made a video -- there are no words, it is just a slideshow. Enjoy!

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newsId: D865A1EC-E4CE-7F77-0DF01C5A5707D0C7
Title: From Undocumented to Unstoppable
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis achieved his college dreams, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
Content:

At age six, Daniel Alejandro Leon Davis, SIS/BA ’13, came to the United States from Venezuela with his mother to visit siblings in Miami. Instead of returning home, Daniel and his mother stayed in the U.S. permanently, though they were undocumented. Despite what seemed to be insurmountable odds, Daniel persevered. He received AU’s prestigious Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and won the Fletcher Scholar Award for exemplifying integrity and selflessness in citizenship while achieving academically.

As an AU student, Daniel was the first undocumented intern for the Clinton Global Initiative, part of President Bill Clinton's philanthropic foundation. Now, he is chief of staff to Michael Skolnik who is a civil rights activist, political director to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, and president of GlobalGrind.com.

“My mother lived the American dream,” Daniel says. Although his mother can’t speak English, she put on a brave face and gave her children everything she could, working as many as three jobs and eventually becoming the top interior designer for Mercedes Homes.

It is clear Daniel’s mother is his inspiration and champion. Looking back at his childhood, he recognizes the signs that she struggled because they were undocumented. He remembers nights when his mother would go without food; her constant apprehension around police officers (even mall security guards) for fear of deportation; and frequent visits to her lawyer’s office. Undocumented immigrants often live in such secrecy and fear, it is not uncommon for them to hide their status from their children, which is why Daniel did not learn he was undocumented until his senior year of high school.

Daniel dreamed of attending an Ivy League school, but the country's economic crisis derailed those plans. His mother could no longer afford the tuition, and his undocumented status disqualified him from financial aid and scholarships, so he enrolled at Seminole State College and earned his associate’s degree. Many prestigious four-year schools accepted Daniel’s transfer application but would not allow him to attend because he was undocumented.

When he called American University and revealed his status, his admissions counselor said, “Oh, you’re a dreamer! We have a way of putting you into the system,” and enrolled him despite his being undocumented. Although he again faced financial obstacles, he would not be deterred this time.

"I gave up on my dream once. I'm not giving up on my dream again. I don't care what I have to do. I'm going to American University," Daniel told himself. He called 95 scholarship organizations and asked if any of them would accept an application from an undocumented student; only three said yes: the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Coca Cola, and Phi Theta Kappa.

At his graduation ceremony, the president of Seminole State announced to Daniel, his mother, and the entire school that Daniel won all three scholarships he applied for, which totaled more than $160,000. He says, "That's the day my life changed. That's the day that everything was worth it, the day that I live for every single day."

Still, life was not easy. The scholarships did not take effect until after his first semester at AU, so Daniel couldn’t afford housing and stayed with friends instead. In October 2011, he “came out” as undocumented by wearing a sign announcing his status on LGBTQ National Coming Out Day. He told his story at an event that evening. After that, he says, “Strangers would come up to me on campus and say, ‘Hey, did you eat today? Do you want me to swipe you in to TDR?’ I felt what community truly meant at AU and that people really stand for what they believe in there.”

Unlike other students preparing for graduation, Daniel knew he wouldn’t be able to find a paying job because he was undocumented. Still, he wanted to use his personal experience and success in creating social change on a larger scale. “I introduced myself to Michael Skolnik [at an event] using the networking skills I learned in one of my classes at American,” Daniel says. Through a friend, he got a meeting with Michael and worked on some projects for him. Michael was so impressed with Daniel’s work that he immediately hired him as his chief of staff.

It was a shock. “I figured I’d be an intern,” Daniel says. Instead of interning, Daniel runs a team charged with harnessing celebrity power, especially on social media, to create social change. He has worked with Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Common, and countless others.

Daniel also finds time to give back to the American University community as a volunteer with the Latino Alumni Alliance and as a social media ambassador. He volunteers because, “AU gave me a lot, a lot, a lot! From Dr. [Fanta] Aw making sure I had housing, to people making sure I had scholarships, professors spending so much time with me and caring for me. … My service is a way to pay back all the ways people helped me at AU. And if I can help that next undocumented student who goes to AU, or help that next Latino student, I want to do that. For me, volunteering means knowing I get to be a part of a community that lasts forever outside of campus.”

Daniel is now married and is an applicant for permanent residency in the U.S.; the Washington College of Law legal clinic is assisting him with his application process.

Daniel's AU education was possible thanks in large part to donor-funded scholarships including the Barbara Bohn Wright Memorial Scholarship, the Annette Langdon Scholar-Activist Award, and the Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship. Learn more about how donations to AU make a difference in students' lives.

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Title: Julio Antonio Ubillús Ramírez, SIS/MIS '13
Author:
Subtitle:
Abstract: An SIS graduate student from Peru brings his skills to his country's embassy in Prague, Czech Republic.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

How has SIS made a difference in my world?

  • The MIS program is the second masters program I completed. Before the MIS, I obtained a masters degree in Diplomacy and International Affairs from the Diplomatic Academy of Peru (ADP). In general terms, my time at SIS has allowed me to increase and broaden my knowledge in many relevant academic fields that are interesting and important for my career, such as International Relations, Diplomacy and Foreign Policy making, among others. This experience has allowed me to strengthen my understanding and capacity for analysis of many different events in International Politics.

 

What was one important turning point (interaction with a faculty member, course topic, event attended, internship moment, book, etc.) during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path?

  • I arrived to SIS with an already established career path, being a Foreign Service Officer in the service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru. However, I had very valuable experiences while taking classes with Ambassador Anthony Quainton (“Diplomatic Practice”), Professor Daniel Masis (”Proseminar in International Relations II”), and Professor David Mislan (“Theories of Foreign Policy Decision Making”), among others. Those were nothing but very interesting and useful academic experiences which are helping me today in different aspects of my career.

 

What has been a -- possibly unexpected-- pivotal experience or piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position?

  • One of the most interesting and valuable experiences I had while studying at AU was taking a class with Ambassador Anthony Quainton, who happened to be Ambassador of the United States to Peru during the late 1980s until the first couple of years of the 1990s. As a Peruvian diplomat, it was very interesting to learn from the experiences of a foreign diplomat such as Ambassador Quainton, especially regarding his insights about Peru´s political and diplomatic affairs during a very delicate and important period of the history of my country.

 

Why I chose SIS?

  • I arrived to the SIS as the result of an agreement signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru and American University, which allows one Peruvian diplomat to take the Master in International Service (MIS) Program every year. In exchange, the Diplomatic Academy of Peru receives two SIS masters students (one per semester) every year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru has the policy of encouraging its youngest diplomats to increase their academic education in order to be better prepared to address the challenges and duties that are inherent to our labor as Foreign Service Officers. To me, SIS represented, among the different choices to pursue higher education, one of the most attractive ones, not only because of the reputation of the university, but also because of the experience and versatility of the professors that are part of the School of International Service.

 

Fields of study?

  • I have a bachelors degree (2002-2006) and a “Licenciatura” (Professional Degree) (2007) in International Business from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru; a masters degree in Diplomacy and International Affairs (2009-2010) from the Diplomatic Academy of Peru (ADP) in Lima, Peru; and a masters degree in International Service (MIS) (2012-2013) from the School of International Service (SIS) at American University in Washington DC, United States.

 

Languages?

  • Spanish (native)
  • English (advanced)
  • Portuguese (advanced)
  • French (intermediate)
  • Czech (beginning lessons)

 

World issue of interest?

  • Integration processes in Latin America.
  • Foreign Economic Policy as a tool to promote growth with equality in developing countries.
  • The increasing political and economic influence of China in global affairs.

 

Professional role model?

  • Ambassador Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. A Peruvian Diplomat that held the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations between 1982 and 1991, leading the most important international organization during the end of the Cold War, a turning point in the history of international politics.

 

Favorite book?

  • "Ficciones" by Jorge Luis Borges.

 

Favorite movie?

  • "El secreto de sus ojos" (The secret in their eyes) by J. Campanella.

 

Current residence?

  • I am currently living in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

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Title: Ann Mangold, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: Alumna’s Fellowship Allows Her to Make a Difference through Federal Service
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/04/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because of its location in Washington, D.C. and the excellent reputation of its faculty as well as the School of International Service. I think close proximity to the nexus of politics and decision-making creates unmatched opportunities for students who study in D.C. I also liked the idea of having classroom interaction with fellow students who had a variety of experiences, from the private sector and government to NGOs and international development.

How I make a difference in the world:
I’m currently completing a Presidential Management Fellowship with the Department of Labor, Office of Public Affairs. The Labor Department’s mission focuses on promoting, developing and improving work opportunities for job seekers and wage earners. In addition, the department also works on preventing, mitigating and eliminating international issues such as human trafficking and forced labor. Although it sounds cliché, I really do feel like I’m contributing to making a positive difference in people’s lives, whether it’s making workplaces safer or helping to raise the minimum wage – these are things that matter, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
Through MIS, I formed a solid network of mentors, professors and friends who have offered invaluable advice and support in my professional pursuits. I feel lucky to have met such an intelligent and inspiring group of people. My time at MIS also helped me to secure my first post-grad school job, which was a great opportunity with a media company in Kabul, Afghanistan, which I learned about through a fellow MIS student.

Field of study:
The great thing about MIS is that there are very few required courses, which allows students to choose most of their electives to focus on key interest areas. It’s sort of like a “choose your own adventure” for graduate school. I chose to take courses primarily in international security and foreign policy, with a regional focus on the Middle East.

SIS activities:
Outside of class, I completed internships with the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, The Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and The New Yorker. I found these experiences to be extremely valuable because they provided practical insight into the issues I studied and helped me to explore possible post-graduation career options, as well as meet some very interesting people in the international relations field. Additionally, I spent time getting to know my classmates and professors. Not only have many of my classmates become close friends, but they also have served as an automatic professional network.

Languages:
Working knowledge of Spanish and Arabic. I also learned basic Dari (a Farsi dialect) while living in Afghanistan and found that immersion is the best way to learn a language quickly.

World issue of interest:
I don’t have a particular issue that I’m focused on, but I would say that anything related to education/literacy for women and children (particularly girls) is of interest. I am also interested in increasing foreign policy understanding and engagement amongst Americans. It seems fewer and fewer are involved or aware of what’s happening in domestic politics, let alone the rest of the world.

Professional role model:
My mom. She set a great example for my sister and me of how to balance a career with having a family/personal life. It must have been extremely difficult, but she never complained. I find this especially amazing since she taught first grade for 36 years – it can’t have been easy to manage a classroom of six-year-olds all day and then come home to run a household.

Favorite book:
That’s a tough choice. The first book that comes to mind is Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. It’s a true story that recounts the experiences of American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the Sahara. It’s a fascinating portrayal of human courage and resilience.

Favorite movie:
“The Lives of Others.” Set in the early 1980s, it follows the monitoring of East Berlin residents by the Stasi. I like films that are grounded in real-life events. I also love the movie “Working Girl” with Melanie Griffith. It’s a classic “girl power” movie.

Current residence:
Washington, DC

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Title: Profile: Jesse Pruett, SIS/MIS '12
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Abstract: MIS graduate uses his skills to mentor and develop the next generation
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I chose MIS because it offered an internationally respected program with the flexibility to fit within a demanding and often unpredictable schedule.

How I make a difference in the world:
My father had a jar filled with coins he had collected from his world travels, which fueled an early fascination with all things “international”. I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved, in very small ways, with many of the significant world events of my generation. At this point it is my hope that I contribute through mentorship and development of other “internationals” whose own experiences will influence the direction of our country and the world.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
MIS provided a great window into the nexus of academic theory and the real-world experiences of a great cohort of student-colleagues representing a broad swath of perspectives. Sharing the academic adventure with them enriched not only my appreciation of studied histories and subsequent events but it also expanded my understanding of my own experiences.

Field of study:
My official area of focus was U.S Foreign Policy, with an unofficial emphasis on the interagency aspects of expeditionary efforts abroad.

Languages:
English, Spanish

World issue of interest:
I am interested in how military and civilian instruments of national power can coalesce in expeditionary circumstances, coordinate with international partners, and collaborate with local populations and leaders to deliver the most beneficial expression of American ideals into that environment.

Professional role model:
The American Generals of World War II provide a series of case studies in achievement in International Affairs. Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, Patton, Marshall (and others) each offer lessons and insight into the traits required to commit to a cause, overcome doubt and hardship, balance strength and compassion and serve as leaders in incredibly intense environments. At the more personal level, my father is my truest role model, providing a foundation of character that I strive to build upon in both my professional and personal endeavors.

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Title: Jeremy Dastrup, SIS/MIS '11
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Abstract: This MIS graduate serves and protects the United States by investigating criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats throughout Southeast Asia.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I Chose MIS:
As a mid-career government employee I needed to find a program with an extensive selection of core and elective courses which would permit me to tailor my degree to my career needs. The MIS program gave me the latitude within my degree to become intimate with the subject matter which I knew my career was going to expose me to. I knew the MIS program, and American University, was the best choice for me when I selected it, but I did not fully realize how perfect a fit it was until I completed my degree and started to apply what I had learned to my career objectives.

How I make a difference in the world:
I interact with foreign government officials on a daily basis. I strive to understand their perspectives and needs. At the same time I am able to represent the United States in a positive light, helping to break down perceived cultural barriers. I give people from different walks of life a positive impression of what America is. This in turn facilitates mission success for me and the United States government.

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
My degree has provided valuable understanding of the underlying political, cultural, economic, and security developments within Southeast Asia, which have enhanced my ability to interact and succeed throughout my career in this region of the world. The principles I learned during my MIS experience, along with the high caliber of instructors and students, are something I reflect on daily and help to shape how I work in the world.

Field of Study:
Southeast Asian Security Issues

Languages:
Spanish and Malay

World issue of interest:
Security issues dealing with Southeast Asia and more specifically the South China Sea to include territorial disputes. How the economic growth of China and other Southeast Asian countries are straining stable security relations in the region and ultimately how that subsequent strain affects the military mission of the United States.

Favorite movie:
Any romantic comedy because it allows me to laugh and spend time with my wife after a long day.

Current residence:
Singapore

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Title: Profile: Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
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Abstract: Meet Dylan Robinson, SIS/MA '12
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/28/2014
Content:

Why I chose MIS:
I moved to Washington, DC with the intention of making a career change, having worked in archaeology for over a decade. My work fell primarily on the environmental impact side of land development, and I reached a point where I wanted to broaden my career focus to include the bigger picture of global development.

I figured DC was probably the best place to pursue my expanded interests, being at the heart of policy development and our nation’s role in the world – I also have family in the area so I used these connections to facilitate my relocation. I was previously unaware of American University or SIS but quickly found out about them as I researched programs in the area. I was particularly drawn to SIS given their excellent reputation and their location within DC proper.

How I make a difference in the world:
I am still making my way, but am very excited about a new business that I am forming that seeks to combine for-profit and non-profit. I learned about this hybrid model through a Social Enterprise course that I took in my final semester, and it really opened my eyes to new possibilities. I hope to combine something I love – all-natural homemade lotions and balms – with a cause I care about – environmental sustainability and combating exploitation in developing nations – as most of these product ingredients come from developing and environmentally threatened areas. The nuts and bolts are still in formation, so stay tuned…

In the meantime I currently hold a few different jobs, acting as Executive Administrative Assistant for a small local business that manages investment portfolios, doing freelance editing work, and running a small greeting card business online, not to mention my most prized position – new mother!

How MIS has made a difference in my world:
Well, the full impacts are still unfolding, but I really cherished the experience of the program. The program was full of great courses and I really enjoyed meeting and collaborating with fellow professionals. The MIS program is unique in the level of experience and wealth of expertise held by the students themselves and I hope to always maintain the relationships I cultivated during my time there.

While I have found the job market to be extremely challenging in the time since my graduation and am still developing my new career path, I feel armed with a great new battery of knowledge and skills as I carve my way.

Field of study:
I chose classes from a fairly broad spectrum of fields within SIS, including US Foreign Policy, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Global Environmental Policy, Comparative Regional Studies and Social Enterprise. So much of the field of International Relations was really new to me, so I wanted exposure to as many elements as possible. However, I focused my research whenever possible on environmental issues and tried to keep my interests in mind while considering the emphasis of the curriculum at hand.

SIS activities:
I tried to get involved in as many activities as possible to take full advantage of my time at SIS. I was elected as the MIS Representative on the Graduate Student Council (GSC)  and also sat on the Networking and Foreign Affairs Committees for the GSC. As the representative to MIS, I organized events to help students in the program network and stay connected with one another.

I also participated in negotiation practices with AU’s Negotiation Program (AUNP) , a really spectacular and unique student-run program, and attended weekend problem-solving workshops operated in partnership with other universities in the area. I spent a term in a Dialogue Development Group , another great AU program, which was very personally enlightening and challenging, and participated in a German language study group.

Finally, I took advantage of the Summer Abroad Program opportunities and spent a summer in Brussels learning about the inner workings of the EU, as well as living with a local family, and conducted a related independent study research project. After returning, I was selected to present at the SIS Summer Abroad Student Research Symposium that fall. (And yes, I did still study and sleep during all this!)

Languages:
English (native), German, currently studying French.

World issue of interest:
Environmental sustainability; development and exploitation

Professional role model:
That’s a tough question. There are so many remarkable professionals I have been lucky to work with over the years and many people who have influenced different elements of my life. I’ve also been very blessed with amazing friends and family and an extremely supportive husband.

On a very personal level, my Sensei (my martial arts instructor of over 15 years) has had an immense impact on my life. As a woman in a tough arena, she helped me learn how to be strong and comfortable being in charge yet gentle at the same time, and how to always have compassion for others even when faced with aggression. She helped me develop a personal confidence that carries over to all other aspects of my life.

My stepfather, as well, has had a large impact on my professional development. He inspires me in the way that he continuously works to improve himself professionally, and never shies away from making a leap to something new. He has managed to work his way up into a really impressive career while always keeping up great relationships and treating others with respect, not to mention being a really supportive and loving family member.

Current residence:
Jupiter, Florida

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Title: SIS Alumna Writes to Showcase Modern Challenges in U.S. Identity
Author: Karli Kloss
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Abstract: Carla Seaquist, SIS / BA ’67 strives to give space to many of the complicated, and at times, ephemeral social and political issues facing our country.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/08/2014
Content:

As a writer and playwright, Carla Seaquist, SIS/BA ’67, strives to give space to the complicated political, cultural, and ethical-moral issues facing our country. She began her career in civil rights activism, helping to organize the women’s caucus at the Brookings Institution from 1972 to 1976.

She then moved to San Diego where she served as the city’s equal opportunity officer from 1977 to 1983, successfully moving women and minorities into nontraditional jobs. For this work she was awarded NOW’s Susan B. Anthony award “for courage and hard work on behalf of women and minorities.”

The shift from civil rights to writing was a logical progression, Seaquist says. She began working as a freelance writer until she moved on to playwriting.

During the siege of Sarajevo, Seaquist reached out to the manager of a Bosnian radio station. They built a unique relationship over the phone. She turned their conversations into a play, Who Cares?: The Washington-Sarajevo Talks, a universal drama about the saving power of human connection in chaos. This play has had three productions, including at Washington’s Studio Theatre. Seaquist has written three other plays.

The shift from playwriting to more direct commentary happened on September 11, when she witnessed the Pentagon on fire. As a result, Seaquist became a contributing writer for The Christian Science Monitor and, now, The Huffington Post.

Seaquist published her first book of commentary, Manufacturing Hope: Post-9/11 Notes on Politics, Culture, Torture, and the American Character, in 2009. Her forthcoming book is titled Can America Save Itself from Decline?: Politics, Culture, Morality. She also published Two Plays of Life and Death.

“I have found the SIS take-away tool–the need to develop a conceptual framework–very useful,” Seaquist states. “International relations made me a world citizen, providing me with an outlook that’s global, not parochial, and a keen interest in history and other cultures–all very helpful in writing commentary.”

Seaquist lives in Washington state with her husband Larry, a state legislator, and is working on a play titled Prodigal.

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Title: Joe Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, Inspires Sense of Giving among AU Community
Author: Ann Royse
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Abstract: Chaplain and alumnus Joe Eldridge explains why he supports AU while also encouraging others to give.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

As chaplain of American University, Joseph Eldridge, SIS/MA ’81, can often be found on campus talking to colleagues, listening to students, and lending his support to countless university events. 

Joe’s journey at American University began during a chance meeting in Brazil with former faculty member, Dr. Brady Tyson, where the two developed a friendship and mutual admiration for each other’s work in human rights. Dr. Tyson, now the namesake of AU’s Brady Tyson Award for Excellence in Work Related to Human Rights, recommended that Joe apply to the master’s degree program in international relations at the School of International Service. Fortunately for AU, Joe followed his friend’s advice, thus beginning a long, successful, and fulfilling career at the university where his passion and work now meaningfully intersect.

Although his current job concentrates on theology, it is widely known that Joe has a long and illustrious career in the international human rights and humanitarian field, focusing specifically on Latin America. While at AU, Joe was introduced to the concept of peace and conflict resolution from the well-renowned professor and scholar of peace and conflict studies, Abdul Aziz Said. Said also introduced the idea of civil resistance and peacemaking as drivers of sustained change, and this truly resonated with Joe’s passion for civil society and international transformation.

As university chaplain, Joe now uses many of his skills and experience to mentor students as they transition through some of the most transformative years of their lives. He enjoys watching students from when they first step onto campus through their days of graduation and the beginnings of various career paths. Joe is continuously enthusiastic about partaking in this vital era in the students’ lives and it is the reason he remains an integral part to the AU community. 

However, guiding students is only one of the many ways Joe shows his support to American University. He also gives back through the university’s annual fund and is passionate about encouraging other alumni, faculty, staff, and parents to do the same. When discussing AU, he says, “AU is a place of utter transformation and it offers so many ways to find participation…a sense of community is in the air.”

So, as the 2013-14 school year comes to a close and AU presents its newest graduates to the world with all of the tradition, pomp, and circumstance they deserve, consider giving back to the community where many students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends began their journey.

In fact, there are countless places to offer your support, whether it is to a school’s specific Dean’s Fund, the AU Fund for Excellence, or the new UFUND, where the university’s own clubs and organizations fundraise for specific programmatic needs. The university relies on the support and dedication of alumni, faculty, and staff members like Joe, who truly inspire the rest of the AU community to give back to any area that signifies and commemorates your own AU experience.

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