My primary line of effort is conducting research for Dr. Jenna Jordan. She is interested in the question of whether targeting leaders of terrorist groups is an effective policy for combating terrorism. This is a fascinating question, and a pertinent one as well, since targeting terrorist leaders has been a cornerstone of US counterterrorism policy. We are currently in the process of updating and expanding Dr. Jordan’s original dataset in order to observe the effects on a group after it’s leader has been arrested or killed.
Over the summer, I was an intern at the Institute for the Study of War, working on a team with two other interns tracking events in Afghanistan. We produced a paper on the death of Mullah Omar, the founder and leader of the Taliban movement, and the potential effects that his death may have. We were fortunate enough that the organization published the paper with our names on it, which was a huge accomplishment for me.
On my first day in graduate school, I thought I was in over my head. The professor gave my class a surprise assignment to write a one-page brief on the current conflict in Ukraine that was due at the end of the class period. Knowing next to nothing about the situation, I had to make a blitz effort to get up to speed and then produce a document containing the key information. During the subsequent class period, all of the students read each others’ briefs and voted to determine the best ones, and somehow the class chose my brief as the best.
Although the experience caused me a lot of stress at the time, it was a valuable exercise and one that I will almost certainly repeat. The excercise is indicative of the manner in which the faculty in the Nunn School truly push the students to achieve, starting on day one.
There are several reasons why I chose the Nunn School for my graduate coursework. First, there are several faculty in the school whose work I admire and appreciate, and I sought to work with one or more of them. Second, I knew that the program was small, meaning that I would not simply be a name on a roster. I knew the school would do a good job of meeting my individual needs. Third, the program gave me the best funding of any program to which I had applied, which is a significant factor given the cost of graduate schools.
Finally, I attended UGA for my undergraduate degree, so I figured I would be welcomed at Tech with open arms.
“The faculty truly push students to achieve, starting on day one.”
For one of my classes, I wrote a research paper on the issue of “brain drain” from Iran, and whether it is as big of a problem as the media would have us believe. It is true that many intelligent people have left Iran over the last several decades, and this human capital migration has exacted many costs on the country. However, there are also substantial benefits that scholars and journalists often overlook. This project was interesting to me because it did not directly relate to security studies, which is my primary focus. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn something totally new.
First, I have the ability to bridge the gap between the technical and non-technical. This is a direct consequence of the fact that the International Affairs program at Georgia Tech incorporates many technology-based experiences into the classroom. This skill is important in the policy world, where decision-makers need someone who understands the fine details of a complex problem, but who can also communicate them in a clear, simple, and compelling way. I also have intermediate French and Persian language skills, which are particularly sought-after. Finally, the Sam Nunn School has afforded me many leadership opportunities, which has translated to heightened communication and management skills.
Outside of school, I have a number of esoteric hobbies. For example, I roast coffee because I am an absolute coffee addict. I also brew kombucha, which is a pro-biotic, fermented tea drink. Currently, one of my favorite physical activities is playing squash at the CRC. I also enjoy slightly more normal activities such as swimming, running, fixing up bicycles, appreciating all the great street art Atlanta has to offer, and reading.
Do not limit yourself to just the Ivan Allen College. There are so many enriching opportunities on campus that are beyond the IAC. Seize these opportunities by getting involved in anything and everything that interests you.