After only two weeks, I realized that I enjoyed flying on planes, not designing them. I told my parents I wasn’t happy and would be changing my major for the second time in six months. To what? I had no idea. They suggested international affairs. I enjoy travel, politics, and learning languages. While taking Introduction to International Relations, I realized that reading and writing about international topics was really interesting to me. Research papers seemed interesting, and I was excited to learn more about the world we live in and the decisions that led to major events.
I took a class with Dr. Rubin called Government, Politics, and Society of the Middle East during spring 2014. Prior to the class I had been interested in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), but during the class I got to explore the role of Islam in politics, jihadism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. I realized just how complicated MENA is, but also how I wanted to keep learning more. Dr. Rubin is incredibly knowledgeable, and I would often go to his office hours to learn more about a certain topic. He also gave me great advice on a paper I was writing for Empirical Methods, which is another class I enjoyed because I am a huge math nerd!
“I encourage students to get to know their professors. Every Ivan Allen professor I have met is more than willing to sit down and chat about class, research, or any other topic. They are a wealth of knowledge, and most students don’t take the time to get to know them.”
I love learning languages and have been teaching myself Arabic and Azerbaijani in my free time. Since Tech does not offer many Arabic classes, the class times have not worked for me, so I have begun teaching myself Arabic to hopefully bypass the intro classes. I want to study Arabic because I’m passionate about languages and hope to focus on Middle Eastern relations.
My interest in Azerbaijani is a bit of a different story. I have been fascinated by Azerbaijan and Azeri culture since high school, partially because it is relatively obscure. Azerbaijan is also a strong ally of the United States, so by learning Azerbaijani I hope to be an asset to the U.S. government. I am applying for a scholarship to study the language in Baku during summer 2016.
One unique thing most people don’t know about me is that I am an albino. I was born with ocular albinism meaning the irises in my eyes lack pigment, which significantly reduces my visual acuity. Although my hair is not affected, it is impossible for me to get a tan, which I attribute to the albinism. Only about one in 60,000 people are affected, and there is no known cure.
I am vice president of the Georgia Tech French Club. I fell in love with the French language during my first French class in 7th grade. In French Club we explore francophone culture and practice our conversation skills. In addition to interacting with professors outside of class, we also connect with French-speaking international students. We do fun activities such as attending French art exhibits and hosting French cooking competitions. My ability to shape these experiences for myself and the club as a whole has been very rewarding.
During the summer of 2014 I studied abroad on the Spanish Language for Business and Technology (LBAT) in Mexico and Ecuador. From the megalopolis of Mexico City, Mexico to the quaint Andean town of Cuenca, Ecuador, we were completely immersed in Spanish. I returned to Tech much more confident in my speaking, writing, and comprehension skills. After a couple weeks I stopped feeling like a tourist and felt more like an actual resident. From sampling street food like the locals to taking the metro and city buses, I embraced the local culture and lived like a Mexican or Ecuadorian.
In addition, I currently serve as one of Dr. Jenna Jordan’s undergraduate research assistants. While taking Intro to International Relations with Dr. Jordan my first semester as an INTA major, her research on terrorism fascinated me. It has been an incredible experience to perform research with an expert in the field. It feels weird to say I’m interested in terrorism, but I could definitely see myself working in counterterrorism research or analysis.
During fall 2015 I spent 14 weeks as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador where I worked in the political and economic departments researching and writing on various topics ranging from drug trafficking to human rights. Through my position, I met with NGO’s, attended Embassy events, traveled around Ecuador, and spent a long weekend in Bogota, Colombia.
That experience gave me opportunities to travel, conduct research on various topics, and learn about the glamorous (and not so glamorous) aspects of the life of a diplomat. In my future, I could see myself being a Foreign Service Officer and living overseas, but I am also interested in being an analyst with an emphasis in security and terrorism. I hope to explore this path further in the future.
For questions about featured students, photography, or to recommend a new undergraduate profile, contact Elizabeth Miller. Interview: Caroline Wesson, Jamie Kazenstein, Photography: Elizabeth Miller