I got my undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in 2015 studying Political Science with a focus in National Security. I then became one of the first students to attend the University of Kent in Brussels under Virginia Tech’s new Two Capitals, Two Master’s program. I returned from Belgium, completing my first degree with the submission of my Dissertation on International Democracy Promotion. I am now completing the second part of the Two Capitals Program, attending Virginia Tech in Alexandria and planning to finish my MPIA in May of 2017. My research interests include the Security Studies and the Middle East as well as more practical concepts such as human rights and refugee law, refugee resettlement and asylum procedures and humanitarian action.
I received my Bachelor of Law degree from the Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil, and practiced at an international arbitration and contracts law firm. I received my LL.M from Georgetown University Law Center in 2016, focusing on international environmental law. I worked as an intern at the Georgetown Climate Center, The Nature Conservancy and the Humane Society of the United States. My research interests are on climate change policy and international development, especially within small island developing states.
For me, the MPIA program was a win-win-win. I completed the program at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria location. The program provided highly relevant content that offered both a foundation in theory and marketable skills in my field. The high caliber of both the faculty and my fellow students ensured relevant and real-world learning — and those relationships continue to have an important and lasting impact on my life. Career-wise, since the completion of the VT MPIA program, both my title and compensation have doubled.
I appreciate the breadth and currency that the MPIA program offered in areas ranging from governance and global security to geopolitics and political economy. As someone who took on a new career opportunity in homeland security while completing the program, having previously worked in public diplomacy, I can say that the knowledge I gained has been extremely applicable to both fields. I enjoyed studying alongside other government, military, and industry professionals, as well as the added benefits of Metro-accessible evening classes and in-state tuition.
My desire was to attend a graduate program filled with students who have real-world experience in public policy, international affairs, and conflict resolution. The Virginia Tech MPIA program in the National Capital Region provided me with this opportunity. During my time in the program, I participated in thoughtful and enlightening discussions in a classroom setting with my professors, members of the military, mid and senior-level federal and state employees, and members of private industry. Through this interaction, I was able to apply real-life lessons to theoretical topics assigned by the MPIA faculty. As a result, I have been able to build a toolkit of successful examples to utilize in my professional life that augment critical thinking and writing skills honed through coursework.
The MPIA program at Virginia Tech in Alexandria provided me with the critical, analytical, and communication skills necessary to excel as a government public affairs professional at various locations in the United States and around the world. In addition to the hard-earned benefits of the program’s academic rigor, I will always be grateful for the outstanding networking opportunities and real-world perspectives shared by the professors and students from diverse backgrounds in academia, the military, government, and civil society.
Mike graduated with an MPIA in 2015 with a focus in Governance and Global Security. Mike has works as a Major, Intelligence Offier and Foreign Area Officer specializing in the Middle East for the United States Marine Corps. In the past he worked as a Government Civilian at the Department of Defense. About his Experience Mike says: “My SPIA education made me increasingly competitive for more senior Department of Defense positions within both the military and civilian sectors, and complemented my current trajectory within the foreign policy/defense/international affairs realm. Furthermore, the degree and expertise garnered through the program enabled eligibility for the Marine Corps Foreign Area Officer program. Throughout my tenure at VT, I was consistently impressed by the caliber of instruction offered through this program which is a testament to the professionalism and quality of the university staff. This program substantially enhanced my critical thinking skills and broadened my aperture beyond exclusive security themes, incorporating economic, political, and international governance tenets. In light of my immensely positive experience in this program, I hope to continue my studies at VT in pursuit of a PhD.”
The Virginia Tech Master’s in Public and International Affairs (MPIA) program in Old Town Alexandria provided the flexibility I needed to complete my advanced degree. As a busy professional, this program had the capacity to absorb the demands of my schedule. There were moments when I struggled with the program, but they were short-lived, thanks to the willingness of my professors to accommodate one on one discussions, which furthered my understanding of the subject matter and alleviated my concerns. The program enhanced my critical analysis skills and increased my capacity to apply viable research methods to problem solving, which are invaluable assets in any profession. I would recommend this program to anyone, seeking to balance family and work responsibilities while furthering his or her education.
Katharine is the International Accounts Specialist at ThinkFun, working to empower minds through play across the globe! Previously, she served as a Senior Program Coordinator at the Federal Judicial Center, an independent agency in the judicial branch, developing educational and training programs for the federal judiciary. Katharine served two appointments at the Supreme Court of the United States, including Aide to Chambers for Justice Elena Kagan. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a Master of Arts in Public and International Affairs and William & Mary in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Psychology.