newsId: 73A3CCA0-A3AF-079F-18932AA47B040D9F
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.

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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 the Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall 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
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Title: Longtime Associate Dean to Retire from SIS
Author:
Subtitle: Study Abroad Fund Launched in Tribute
Abstract: After nearly three decades at the School of International Service (SIS), longtime Associate Dean Leeanne Dunsmore announced to colleagues that she will retire in early November.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/24/2014
Content:

After nearly three decades at the School of International Service (SIS), longtime Associate Dean Leeanne Dunsmore announced to colleagues that she will retire in early November. As Associate Dean for International Programs/Partnership Development and Enrollment Management, Dunsmore led the school in various roles to produce innovative programming for undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students at SIS.

At a farewell celebration in her honor on October 24, SIS Dean James Goldgeier announced the establishment of the Leeanne J. Dunsmore School of International Service Study Abroad Fund, to support SIS students from historically underrepresented groups to study abroad.

Dunsmore, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in global education from the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, plans to devote her full attention to completing her dissertation. She will remain connected to SIS, and is expected to teach a course this spring. 

A graduate of SIS, Dunsmore earned her master’s degree in international political economy in 1997. Among the highlights of her storied career at SIS, Dunsmore supported the launch of the SIS Master’s in International Relations (MAIR) online degree program with 2U—the first online international affairs degree in the nation. 

In the area of program development, Dunsmore designed the first three-year bachelor’s program, SIS Global Scholars, which remains among the most popular programs at American University. She also established the first-ever dual degree program between a university in the United States and a university in Japan twenty years ago with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, a relationship that remains active and rewarding for both institutions. She also established dual degree programs with Korea University and Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Dunsmore’s extensive efforts to expand study abroad opportunities for SIS students have been extremely successful, with fifty percent of SIS graduate students participating in study abroad programs, far above the national average.

To enhance the pipeline of incoming students, Dunsmore oversaw the school’s highly effective pre-college programs, including the online and hybrid pre-college Community of Scholars program, which she created. The pre-college programs enroll hundreds of high school students at the university each summer, many of whom subsequently apply to SIS. 

In the critical area of enrollment management, Dunsmore has helped SIS expand the number of master’s students, and has developed several rewarding partnerships with organizations in the United States and abroad to enroll sponsored students. 

Dunsmore led the establishment of the Masters International Program with the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps Fellows Program, which has drawn many returning Peace Corps volunteers to the school.

Fund Established In Tribute to Nearly Three Decades of Service SIS 

Dean James Goldgeier cited Dunsmore’s tireless efforts to recruit and enroll a diverse student body at SIS, including students from historically underrepresented groups and students originating from dozens of countries around the world. 

“Leeanne’s incredible work to recruit a diverse student body inclusive of historically underrepresented groups will remain among her greatest legacies, and one which I hope we will continue to achieve through lessons she has taught many of us here at SIS,” Goldgeier said. 

To this end, Goldgeier announced that he has established the Leeanne J. Dunsmore School of International Service Study Abroad Fund, to support SIS students from historically underrepresented groups to study abroad. “I am hopeful that the Leeanne J. Dunsmore School of International Service Study Abroad Fund will serve as a wonderful way to recognize and thank Leeanne for her countless contributions to the school—while also conveying our values of inclusiveness throughout students’ academic experiences at SIS,” Goldgeier said. 

Longtime supporters of SIS and Dean’s Council members Cynthia Borges Warshaw (SIS/BA ‘93) and Matthew Warshaw (SIS/BA ‘94), said they were delighted to support the fund in order to enable more students to travel abroad and better understand cultures different from their own. 

“We believe the ability to change one’s surroundings even if for a short time can change one’s perspective and enrich lives,” the Warshaws said. “The best part of travel is believing you are going somewhere completely different, that you are changing worlds, until you get there. Then the best part becomes realizing people are more alike than they are different. We can think of no greater gift. Dean Dunsmore has always encouraged SIS students to find those similarities in one another and the world around them. Thank you Leeanne for being you and encouraging all of us at SIS. -Cynthia Borges Warshaw ’93 and Matthew Warshaw ’94.” 

To contribute to the Leeanne J. Dunsmore School of International Service Study Abroad Fund, please visit: http://bit.ly/1nzgzl8.

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Title: The Ebola Crisis: Social Science Insights
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Abstract: We asked SIS Professorial Lecturer Nathan Paxtonto explain how social science can contribute to an understanding of the Ebola epidemic.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/22/2014
Content:

More than 4,500 people have died in the deadly Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in the spring, mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. We asked SIS Professorial Lecturer Nathan Paxton, an expert on global public health who studies how political processes like war and democratization affect the burden of disease, to explain how social science can contribute to an understanding of the Ebola epidemic.

Q: Why has the disease been so difficult to contain and how can prevention strategies be improved in West Africa?

A: Many infectious diseases prove difficult to contain—think of “cold and flu season,” where we all seem to get the same infections, sometimes even if we take precautions. Ebola is particularly deadly, however, killing between 40 and 70 percent of those who get the virus, and it has no vaccination or cure. In the West African context, where lack of resources is particularly acute, concerted information and education campaigns may provide the best possibility for letting people know what is safe, what is not, and what is rumor. 

Q: Medical experts and politicians are grappling with the growing crisis. How can social scientists contribute to the solution? 

A: Epidemics are generally social events as much as they are biomedical events. Social scientists have two ways we can help. First, we study how people understand the world and make decisions about it. So some of us—medical anthropologists and sociologists, for example—can help physicians devise strategies to deliver care while better persuading people to access that care. Second, many of us study politics, policy, and mass society. We can help physicians and epidemiologists understand who controls which resources, as well as how to persuade decision makers to respond to health crises. 

Q: Why have international organizations like the United Nations and World Health Organization been so slow to respond? 

A: On the simplest level, because they lack the capacity! Neither possesses, nor could establish, an epidemic rapid response force. Both organizations have relatively inflexible budgets, and the WHO in particular has experienced funding and staff cuts, largely due to members failing to pay their assessed dues on time and in full. Most of what WHO can do, then, is to sound the alert, declaring the situation an epidemic. That said, WHO was overly slow in declaring this epidemic. Like armies fight the last war, however, WHO often reacts to the last epidemic, and the organization was criticized for overreacting to the flu in 2009. 

Follow Professor Paxton on Twitter @napaxton. To request an interview, please call (202) 885-5943.

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Title: Event Examines ISIS and the Fight Against It
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: In an event at the School of International Service on October 15, a discussion occurred the prospects for the American-led campaign against ISIS.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/21/2014
Content:

Two months after President Obama launched air strikes in an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group known as Islamic State or ISIS, the operation now has a name—Enduring Resolve—a reference to the difficult task of “fighting” such an amorphous organization.

In an event at the School of International Service on October 15 convened by Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence David Gregory, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed of SIS, Politico’s Susan Glasser, and The Washington Post’s David Ignatius discussed the prospects for the American-led campaign against ISIS and broader U.S. policy in the Middle East. 

Moderator David Gregory began the discussion by asking how the war on ISIS is going. “It’s going badly. Wars often start badly,” said Ignatius, who underscored the need for the United States to form a strong coalition with other Arab nations. “Basically, we would have to tell them, ‘You have to put some skin in the game if you want American help.’” 

Ignatius also suggested that training CIA-style guerilla fighters in Syria to combat ISIS might be more efficient than just the air bombing campaign. Ignatius expressed concern about “whether we are walking into a trap that locks us into the kind of warfare our adversaries want and how can we mitigate that danger.” He believes that Iraq is “as sectarian as ever. It is badly fractured and I do not see a coherent strategy in our policy to pull it together.” 

Ahmed framed ISIS in the context of tribal Islam, the subject of his recent book: “ISIS has very little to do with Islam,” he said. “Its members are tribesmen from tribes that have imploded over the last few decades. We all tend to think of this as radical Islam without considering this is tribal Islam, which espouses a code that encourages revenge for wrong-doings.” One distinction he made is that this code has become mutated. Out of the tribal trifecta of “bravery, courage, and revenge,” revenge is the only thing now left. He also noted the creation of borders that split the tribes in forced ways, fanning the flames of conflict. The conflict is not “Islam vs. the West,” he said, but periphery versus center—societies left on the fringes fighting a central government they perceive as antagonistic to their interests. 

Glasser spoke about the policy side of the issue, calling Obama an “extremely reluctant warrior.” “We are seeing a fairly public debate between the president and the generals on strategy. We have a lot of generals saying the war plan will not work, that it is based on false theory, premised on the notion of an air campaign on guys in pick-up trucks,” she said 

All three panelists noted that ISIS is an aggressive, flexible, and adapting enemy and that there is tremendous trepidation among the American public about entering into yet another quagmire of conflict in the Middle East. 

Watch the event video here.

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Title: Ready to Launch
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: American University is a place for budding entrepreneurs.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/15/2014
Content:

The Kogod School of Business recently launched a new Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. It’s a way to cultivate entrepreneurial minds and ventures dedicated to economic, environmental, and social progress. A key component of this initiative is the new Entrepreneurship Incubator in Mary Graydon Center. To celebrate the Incubator’s official launch, there was a ribbon cutting in late September with AU President Neil Kerwin, Provost Scott Bass, Kogod Dean Erran Carmel, and AU alum Mark Bucher, a restaurateur who helped finance the remodeling of the Incubator space.

American University has a variety of great programs for budding entrepreneurs, and this new initiative reflects a campus-wide commitment to innovation.

Kogod and the New Initiative

In an interview, Kogod Professor Stevan Holmberg details the evolution of entrepreneurship education at AU. The business school had its first entrepreneurship course in 1987, with many more courses added in the decades since. By 2012, the School of Communication and Kogod forged a partnership with a master’s program in media entrepreneurship. In 2013, AU schools (Kogod, SIS, and SOC) announced a strategic partnership with 1776, a startup hub in downtown D.C. Kogod offers an entrepreneurship MBA concentration, and it recently added a minor in entrepreneurship for non-business majors.

AU’s curriculum on entrepreneurship is already experiential, with students practicing business pitches. But there was room to do more through this new initiative.

Holmberg_Ribbon_Cutting_NOID

“We were looking to expand the student learning experience by moving even further down the road towards having students actually live entrepreneurship and create new ventures,” says Holmberg, director of the Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. He also says that AU students—typically passionate, with the desire to enact change—gravitate towards entrepreneurship. “It can be a business venture, or it can be entrepreneurship in terms of a nonprofit or social venture,” he explains.

Kogod’s Tommy White and Bill Bellows are co-directors of the nascent Incubator. Student teams trying to devise their own startups submit applications for an initial review, and White and Bellows will provide feedback for all applicants. Teams with more fully developed startup proposals will then present to a larger panel. Selected teams would have access to working space, a faculty coach, an outside mentor, and legal assistance. Through an entrepreneurship fund, AU faculty and business advisers will help students explore opportunities for seed capital and other sources of revenue.

“It’s great that we are getting a mix of applications from all the different schools, since the purpose is to make the Incubator an American University initiative,” says White.

AU is an ideal setting for cross-unit collaboration on a multifaceted subject like entrepreneurship. “It allows you to tap into multiple skill sets around the university,” Holmberg says. “So if we have a team doing a technology app, they could go to somebody in computer science for help with coding. Or they could go to somebody in film who might be doing video clips or documentaries.”

AU Pipeline

Young student entrepreneurs have received crucial guidance from professors in the past. While earning his MBA here, Tommy White took an entrepreneurship course on managing small and growing businesses taught by Kogod Professor Barbara Bird. “I just loved it, and it was exactly what I needed. I was in the middle of my startup, called the Institute for Public-Private Partnerships,” he says. The business succeeded and was sold to the infrastructure services firm Tetra Tech in 2008. Now he’s a full-time AU faculty member in Kogod’s Management Department.

Media Entrepreneurship

At the School of Communication, Amy Eisman discusses her role as director of the MA program in media entrepreneurship. “It is the intersection of media and business,” she says. “This is media defined broadly—it can be entertainment, sports; it can be an app.”

American University School of Communication Professor Amy Eisman

Since media companies are struggling mightily to navigate the current economic landscape, the startup culture in Washington, D.C. has exploded, she says. This makes the program attractive to mid-career professionals, who take classes in both SOC and Kogod.

“What we learned is that a lot of entrepreneurs are actually serial entrepreneurs. So they really like the game. They like to try new things,” she says. The projects in this program have run the gamut, with one student establishing an Indonesian cooking website and another student creating DeafTV.com.

Eisman explains the philosophy faculty members convey to students. “Let’s try, rather than think it’s not going to work. And let’s be able to change up if something is not working,” she says. “We’re perfectly fine if somebody discards an idea. That means the student has learned something.”

Social Enterprise

Robert Tomasko heads the social enterprise MA program at the School of International Service. Started in 2011, the program merges management with the study of social change and innovation. He says about half the students in the program have business backgrounds, while the other half are liberal arts-oriented. “Each of them comes to the program wanting to know what the other side knows. And there’s a lot of sharing.”

At the beginning of the SIS program, student pairs take a “plunge” by getting assigned to help a D.C.-based nonprofit or social enterprise. They’re tasked with helping this organization solve a pressing problem. Some organizations keep coming back each year to work with SIS students, he says.

Social enterprise is now an emerging sector of the economy. Tomasko says frustration with both the public and private sectors led to greater interest in the nonprofit world. “But there are issues with nonprofits, too. Many people flee to that sector because they don’t want anything to do with money. But if you talk to people who work at nonprofits, they spend all their time raising money,” he says. “With those three areas of discontent, I think social enterprise is offering students a way to pick some of the best from each of the sectors to try to remedy the problems.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

If you’ve plowed through the Steve Jobs biography or watched re-runs of Shark Tank, you might get an itch to start a business. But what makes somebody go the extra mile to actually do it?

Barbara Bird has studied entrepreneurial behavior, and she identifies certain attributes most entrepreneurs possess. “You can’t start a business if you don’t have high energy level, and if you don’t have a certain tolerance for risk. And it really isn’t even necessarily just tolerance of risk, it’s tolerance of ambiguity.”

Barbara Bird ID

Thomas Kohn argues that while the risk is undeniable, it’s a personal investment worth making. “I’ve mentioned to students that, in my opinion, there’s not as much risk associated with startups as some of them think there is. Right out of school, you can make almost as much in salary as you can with a big company,” says Kohn, an executive-in-residence in the Management Department. “Once you are an owner of a company—even if it’s just stock options—you feel totally different. You have a lot more incentive to work hard and to care.”

White adds that while entrepreneurship may not be innate to some students, it can certainly be taught. “Someone may really be a good idea person. But you might need someone to help shape that, manage that, and execute that,” he says.

And the goal of making money is within reach. “I do believe that entrepreneurship is one of the most likely pathways to wealth,” Bird says. “True ability to rise above the social and economic status you were born into is likely to come from starting a business.”

Brave New World

Advances in technology have made becoming an entrepreneur much easier. You don’t need to make huge capital investments and, say, open up a factory. You can run a profitable company with one laptop.

“I wish I had these tools 25 years ago when I was starting my company. It was expensive to start companies then,” White says. Now, he says, you have many different modes of communication, analytics, and social media tools to understand the marketplace and identify potential customers.

But as several professors warn, lower barriers to entry equals a lot more competition. “There are a lot of companies that won’t make it,” Kohn says. “But fortunately in this country having a failure—or two or three—under your belt is almost a badge of honor. It’s not a negative. And you learn a lot.”

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newsId: 9D278F99-EA78-5FEE-244EDCD69B1320C3
Title: "How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel"
Author:
Subtitle: All-Day Conference, Tuesday, October 28, in SIS Founders Room
Abstract: Center for Israel Studies hosts international conference, October 28.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/14/2014
Content:

Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish state, a fact that is not only stated in its Declaration of Independence, but one that has also been confirmed by every single government since its founding.

According to the former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak, "A Jewish state is a state whose history is bound up with the history of the Jewish people, whose principal language is Hebrew, and whose main holidays reflect its national mission." Yet, Barak insists that "the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish State cannot be identified with Jewish Law." Many Orthodox Israelis disagree. What is the meaning of a Jewish state and what place do Judaism and other religions play in such a state? Is there separation of state and religion in Israel?

To explore these questions and more, on Tuesday, October 28, American University's Center for Israel Studies (CIS) and Jewish Studies Program will host an all-day academic conference "How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel."

Religion and Society in Israel

With panelists invited from Israel, Europe, and the United States, the conference explores the separation of state and religion in Israel, and looks at the treatment and the internal structure of Israel's other religious and ethnic groups, as well as the question of religious pluralism in the Jewish state.

The conference culminates with an evening keynote address by the distinguished philosopher and scholar Moshe Halbertal, the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Jerusalem's Hebrew University and New York University's Gruss Professor of Law. Professor Halbertal will speak on "Israel: At the Crossroads of Democracy, Nationalism, and Religion." Professor Halbertal "is one of the leading public intellectuals of Israel and one of the key scholars when it comes to defining the place of religion in public life," says Michael Brenner, director of AU's Center for Israel Studies.

Legal Treatment of Religion

History Department Chair Pamela Nadell will moderate the conference's opening session. Panelists will address "New Frontiers in the Struggle between Religion and State," "Religion and State: Law in the Books versus Law in Action," and "Orthodox Monopolies: A Trojan Horse?"

Nadell reflects: "Since 1947, when David Ben Gurion, the founding prime minister of Israel, ceded to the Orthodox that Shabbat would be the nation's day of rest and that rabbinical courts would retain jurisdiction over Jewish marriage and divorce, there has been an ongoing struggle between religion and the state. Our panelists consider the ramifications of this policy on the contemporary scene." The panel includes Haifa University Law Professor Eli Salzberger, the founder of the Center for Crime, Law and Society and a former dean of Haifa University's School of Law; Yedidia Stern, the vice-president of research at the Israel Democracy Institute and a law professor at Bar Ilan University; and Kimmy Caplan, one of the world's leading specialists on Orthodox Judaism.

Non-Jews in Israel

Sociologist Calvin Goldscheider, scholar in residence at the Center for Israel Studies, chairs the afternoon panel on non-Jews in Israel. Speakers include Hebrew University Professor Ahmad Natour ("Islam and Muslims in the State of the Jews") and Amal el-Sana Alh'jooj, an award-winning Bedouin woman scholar and activist, who has advanced the cause of Shared Society between Jews and Arabs as well as promoting community development amongst Bedouin women. Professor Natour served as a kadi (judge) from1985-2013 and then President of Israel's Sharia Court of Appeals (1994-2013). In this capacity he made a significant contribution to the development of Sharia law in Israel and to its liberalization, especially in relation to the protection of the rights of women.

Jewish Pluralism

This last panel examines the viability of the extremely broad spectrum of religious attitudes among Israeli Jews, ranging from the ultra-Orthodox and the settler movement to the Reform movement and secular Jewish identities. What are their attitudes towards Israeli statehood and towards the separation of state and religion?

Panelists include AU Professor Gershon Greenberg, an expert on the Israeli ultra-Orthodox (haredim); the leading historian of Reform Judaism, Michael A. Meyer; Oxford University's Sara Hirschhorn, an expert on the settler movement; and one of the most powerful voices in the Israeli discourse on Jewish culture, religion, and secular identity, historian and writer Fania Oz-Salzberger.

For Registration and More Information

The conference is supported by the Knapp Family Foundation. For a full program description and to RSVP for any of the conference sessions, see http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp/rsvp2.cfm

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newsId: 9831BBC2-C2CE-737A-FDFA4B31F5FFCDCB
Title: Intercultural Management Institute Hosts Fulbright Orientation
Author: Sabrina Garba
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) at American University’s School of International Service recently hosted the 2014 Fulbright Global Gateway Orientation for seventy incoming Fulbright students from forty-seven different countries.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 10/09/2014
Content:

The Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) at American University’s School of International Service recently hosted the 2014 Fulbright Global Gateway Orientation for seventy incoming Fulbright students from forty-seven different countries. 

The five-day workshop took place in Washington, DC, from August 18 to 22, and was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

The orientation prepared the Fulbrighters for cultural adjustment to life and academic study in the United States and introduced them to skills needed for a successful academic and professional experience in the United States.

The orientation included sessions that engaged participants in networking and leadership activities and educated them on American culture – including academic culture, intercultural understanding, and interpersonal relationships. 

Additionally, the Fulbrighters participated in cultural visits to four Smithsonian Museums as well as a local nursing and rehabilitation center to engage with members of the community and learn about American history and culture around Washington, DC. 

According to participant Silvio Canihuante, this orientation helped him to prepare for living in a foreign country and provided him with a network of friends. When asked about his experience at the Global Gateway Orientation he said: “The Gateway is unique, and I recommend it to every scholar. It was my first experience as a Fulbrighter outside [of] my original country. All the lectures and activities are extremely well planned and, depending on your previous experience in the U.S., they can reveal how our new home works. Foremost, I got to meet other Fulbrighters from all over the world. Now, I have friends from countries that I have only heard on Risk! games before. And, most important, when I arrived to the city of my program (NYC), I had friends. I don't see them every day because of school requirements, but the sensation to have a network of not only contacts, but friends as well, it helps a lot when you are arriving to an unknown city.” 

After completing their orientation, the international Fulbright students traveled to colleges and universities in all fifty states to begin their Fulbright programs as masters and doctoral students. 

Learn more about the Intercultural Management Institute.

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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:
Subtitle:
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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newsId: 17586CF3-9100-C85A-DFAC23808CB4475F
Title: Julio Antonio Ubillús Ramírez, SIS/MIS '13
Author:
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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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