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Student Spotlight – Stephanie Prochaska, MA IR student

Stephanie Prochaska is also earning an MA in Spanish alongside her MA International Relations

Stephanie Prochaska

Master of Arts in International Relations (Maxwell School)
Master of Arts in Spanish (College of Arts and Sciences)

Background
I am originally from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville with a double major in Spanish and International Studies and with a minor in Latin American Studies.  I came to Syracuse University directly from undergrad.

What is your concentration or focus at the Maxwell School?
For the MAIR program, I plan to focus on the Governance, Diplomacy and International Organizations track.  I am focusing on Latin America in my Master of Arts in Spanish program and hope to bridge the conceptual focus from my IR program and regional focus from my Spanish program.

Why are you interested in International Relations?
I want to work for the greater good for the world at large.  I felt that studying international relations was the path for me because I am interested in traveling, and learning about other people, places and cultures.  I also have a deep interest in politics.  Studying International Relations is an opportunity for me to combine all of those interests.  The MAIR program at Syracuse is also a nice fit with my interest in learning Spanish and other romance languages (I am also auditing a French course).

Why Latin America?
Latin America has often been forgotten about or glossed over on the international stage.  However, Latin America is increasingly becoming a region that people are paying attention to.  Take Chinese FDI (foreign direct investment), for example.  Latin America and other “forgotten about” areas like Sub-Saharan Africa are becoming hotly contested areas for international trade.

Latin America is an interesting region that has plenty of success stories and is a region that is deserving of attention as a topic of study on its own.

What classes are you taking now?
I am in my first year for both the MAIR and MA in Spanish programs.  I expect that completing both programs will take 3 years.

I am currently taking two core courses for the MAIR program – International Actors and Issues and Statistics.  So far, I feel that these courses are helping me to prepare for and develop a foundation for moving forward in the IR program and pursuing a career.

Tell me about a project or assignment that you have worked on that particularly stands out to you.
I recently had an assignment that required me to write an Op-Ed on an international issue.  I had never written an Op-Ed before and found this to be a great opportunity to practice.  I chose to write about the Brazilian presidential elections.  This assignment was particularly interesting because I was writing my Op-Ed on the very day that the second round of elections was taking place.  By the time I finished my Op-Ed approximately 98% of the votes had been reported.

What do you hope to do with your Maxwell degree?
I hope to pursue a career in diplomacy.  I am interested in working in any diplomatic capacity concerning relations between the United States and Spanish or French speaking countries.

Where do you plan to study abroad as part of your MAIR program?
I don’t actually plan to study abroad in Latin America as part of the MAIR program.  I’ve been to Chile before and I spent an undergrad semester in Argentina.  I have Latin American experience; I’ve been to 5 different countries in that region.  Instead, I plan to participate in two summer programs through SU Abroad – the French for Diplomacy program in Strasbourg, France and the Survey of Current Issues in African Migration program in Ghana.  I feel that the program in Ghana can be especially beneficial to my interest in working on relations between the Latin America and the United States because of its focus on migration studies.  I hope to be able to study African migration issues and apply what I’ve learned to the Latin American situation. 

What has been the most challenging part of your program so far?
Balance.  The most challenging part of graduate school so far has been striking the right balance between school, my job, and life outside of school, and also finding the balance between my two masters programs.

What advice do you have for students who are considering coming to the Maxwell School?
Be confident to put yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to communicate with people.  There is so much that you can gain from connecting with people – your fellow students and faculty and staff – at the Maxwell School.

How have you gotten involved on campus?
I joined the “Gear Committee” on the Public Administration and International Relations (student) Association (PAIRA).  This committee designs and coordinates orders for t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other things for students in the Public Administration and International Affairs (PAIA) Department.

I also have a job that keeps me closely connected to campus.  I am the House director for a sorority here on campus.

What do you like to do in Syracuse and the surrounding area?
I try to get out into the community as much as I can.  For example, I recently visited the Landmark Theater and saw Fiddler on the Roof.  I’ve also been exploring different diners in the area.

Student Spotlights are written by Michael Fandrich.
Michael is a current MPA student and serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Director of Admission.

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