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Our New MA IR Students Arrive in Time to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

Maxwell’s 2017 entering class of MA IR students in Orientation

Yesterday while many American’s celebrated the Solar Eclipse. At the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, we also celebrated the arrival of our new MA International Relations (MA IR) students. Seventy-one new students from 15 different countries moved to Syracuse to begin their MA IR studies.  Yesterday, among many welcomes, the students engaged in discussions with our faculty, alumni and each other on the many issues they will explore over their time of study.  Josh Kennedy our Student Services Director put together a number of sessions focusing on Professional Skills for the IR Professional. These allowed our new students to hear from faculty and alumni about the skills we focus on at Maxwell and how they play out in the real world of moving international policy forward.

These sessions – which continue today – focus on Developing Foreign Policy Recommendations, Briefing Senior Decision Makers, Advocating for Change, Monitoring and Evaluating Programs, and Moving Closer to the Ground: Incorporating Local Perspectives.  Over the week they will hear from faculty members: Renee deNevers, Sean O’Keefe, Robert Murrett, John McPeak, Gladys McCormick, Devashish Mitra, Brian Taylor and Rebecca Peters.

Many alumni also joined us on campus, or via skype, including our own Director of Executive Education, Steve Lux. Siobhan Shields (former Director for Central America and the Caribbean, US National Security Council and now with the US Department of State), Simone Young (Director, Policy and Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago), Uwe Gneiting (Research and Evaluation Advisor, Oxfam American), Meghan Boesch (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Near East Foundation), and Carmel Rabin (Monitoring and Evaluation Associate, PYXERA Global).

James Steinberg, former Dean of the Maxwell School engaged in an hour long conversation

Jim Steinberg talks with our new students

with the group on The Evolving World Order.  He offered much insight into how to view the current and emerging landscape of international affairs along with very practical career advice including a wonderful discussion of Isaiah Berlin’s essay:  The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History  , relating this evocative piece to the students’ own focus as they move forward academically and professionally.

The students are a very diverse group and were thoroughly engaged throughout the day. There was a break at 2:30 for viewing the eclipse, something even our own Abraham Lincoln could not resist!

Lincoln don’s his eclipse glasses with the help of current student and Robertson Fellow, Libby Kokemoor.

And even with the sun going dark yesterday, the sun would not set on this class, as they come from 15 different countries including (Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Germany, India, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Syria, Uzbekistan and the US.  Of the US citizens, they represent 28 different states, with nearly a third identifying as persons of color.

Collectively, they have worked or volunteered in nearly 50 different countries (not including study abroad!), and speak over 16 languages fluently. While they represent 24 different academic majors, International Relations/Global Studies is the most common.  Followed by Political Science, Communications/Journalism/Public Relations, History and Economics.  One entering student studied Aerospace Engineering and in 2015 was named as one of the top 30 to go to Space! They have served in Government, NGOs and non-profits both abroad and throughout the US. We are pleased to welcome several with current or past military service, including a recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. They are an interesting group, who include several writers, a couple film makers (documentary and short-film), news reporters, a former hockey coach who worked with Hockey w/out Borders in Serbia, a dentist and a student who composed music for video games.

As disparate as all this sounds, they share a commonality – they ALL want to make the world a better place, they care about our global future, and we are immensely pleased they selected the Maxwell School of Syracuse University as the next step on this journey. Welcome to our new MA IR students!

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