Featuring You

Explore profiles of alumni in feature and Q&A formats.

2016 alumni remember their first year in the real world

May 18, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

As the class of 2017 hits the home stretch to graduation, we caught up with a few 2016 alumni to see where they wound up one year after earning their GPS degrees. Read more.

Positively competing against each other

By Anthony King | GPS News

Motivated by impactful internships of their own, GPS alumni rallied around a class fundraising competition that amassed more than $17,500 for the School’s Summer Internship Fund. Read more.

Clean-tech Czar

April 27, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | UC San Diego News

As point person for San Diego’s Cleantech Initiative, UC San Diego alumnus Jacques Chirazi has steered city’s strides in sustainability. Read more.

Working toward a purpose together at GAO

Feb. 24, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

As part of an ongoing series to spotlight GPS’s top employers, we profile why GAO hires our graduates, plus why current alumni enjoy working there. Read more.

Emboldened to make the future brighter

Feb. 8, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

In time for International Women’s Day on March 8, we spotlight five GPS alumnae and their professional achievements stemming from moments of being bold in their careers. Read more.

A pivot from physics

Feb. 6, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Steven Buchsbaum ’97 attended GPS to discover what could be the next step in his science-centric career. What he received was so much more. Read more.

Strength in numbers

Feb. 3, 2017 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Roughly 50 alumni returned to GPS for its annual Winter Connections event, meeting with and lending advice to the students soon to enter their alumni network. Read more.

GPS graduates find culture is key at Booz Allen

Nov. 16, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

As part of an ongoing series to spotlight GPS’s top employers, we profile why Booz Allen Hamilton hires our graduates, plus why current alumni enjoy working there. Read more.

Undraping a hidden gem

Nov. 1, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

How Jason Kim, MAS-IA ’12, helped to set the stage for foreign area officers to fulfill their graduate school requirements at GPS. Read more.

Drilled into entrepreneurship

 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

George Eiskamp didn’t always conceive of a career in oil and gas but, as CEO and founder of GroundMetrics, the alumnus is an industry standout due in part to lesson learned at GPS. Read more.

Alumni lend lessons learned 20 years after GPS

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Joel Rabasco and Rich Abrom impart to GPS’s incoming students their wisdom gained in 20 years since attending the School. Read more.

Alumnae sustain a friendship for the books

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

The common interest in sustainability that brought together Lauren DeMates and Rosaly Byrd at GPS now is turning profits for the duo in that of a burgeoning blog and book deal. Read more.

Salsa Saturday celebrates alumni who stay connected

June 9, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

As part of UC San Diego’s Alumni Weekend, GPS hosted its third annual Salsa Saturday on June 4. Read more.

Driving data in family care

May 25, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

While it wasn’t always her intent to end up in tech, Joyce Hodel ’08 wouldn’t have her career any other way. Read more.

Yiru Zhou embraces the past and shapes the future of GPS

May 6, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

GPS’s 2016 Outstanding Alumna details what it means to be honored by and why she is dedicated to giving back to her School. Read more.

Reconnecting with the class of 2015

April 20, 2016 | By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

As GPS’s class of 2016 gets closers to commencement, we connect with a few 2015 alumni to see where they wound up one year after earning their degrees. Read more.

A salute to our soldiers

Oct. 28, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

When Nicholas Matcheck, MPIA ’07, sees “Veterans Day” marked on a calendar, he automatically mulls over his grandfather and his father’s tenures in WWII and the Air Force, respectively. All the while, he’s dressed in a Navy uniform, one adorned with badges for a decade’s worth of service as an aviator, including deployments to the Middle East and Central America. Read more.

Motivating students beyond degrees

Oct. 23, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Look no further than Anna Jewell’s desk for a testament to how Professor Barry Naughton has motivated his students. Jewell, MPIA ’00, still can recall her first few encounters with the Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs, specifically as a student in his Chinese economy class in 1999 at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). She remembers Naughton handing out loosely stapled pages of his manuscript for “The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth.” Read more.

The value of a classmate

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

School of Global Policy and Strategy alumni return to campus, strengthening networks with current students. Read more.

A match made in GPS

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

In time for Valentine’s Day, meet a few GPS alumni who found love in the long term before, during or after attending the School. Read more.

An outlet in entrepreneurship

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Named to the ‘Forbes’ 2016 30 under 30 list, Elena Lucas founded her own software company as a sure-fire way to have a global impact on climate change. Read more.

Getting to Gap Inc.

Jan. 13, 2016 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Jennifer Gee ’91 recounts how GPS’s cross-disciplinary strengths and Pacific focus have paid off, plus how she now pays it forward. Read more.

Kevin Watt unearths savviness for sustainable farming

Nov. 9, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Peruse Kevin Watt’s resume, and one might note he isn’t the typical alum from the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS)—but he also couldn’t be happier about it. Watt, MPIA ’09,  is the founder of Early Bird Ranch in Pescadero, Calif. Read more.

Veronica Valdez on ‘rolling up your sleeves and going for it’

Nov. 3, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Veronica Valdez, MPIA ’07, is unable to see past February 2017. Once the President Barack Obama administration concludes, she along with fellow political appointees at the Pentagon will draft up resignation letters to the president and make way for the next administration to fill in. Read more.

GPS graduate returns to Mexico to propel higher education

Sept. 28, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Alfredo Martinez very much so works behind the scenes. The students he ultimately impacts may never see his face nor ever hear his name. But the curriculums they endure, particularly programs and courses preparing them for careers, are kept ahead of the curve due in part to him. Read more.

‘Have fun, and do the right thing’

Aug. 10, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Given that Scott Park heads up one of the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturers, it seems only fitting that he has a well-stocked toolbox. The president and CEO of Doosan Infracore Bobcat Holdings has been adding to it since college. Read more.

Michael DeZubiria '14 receives presidential recognition

July 9, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

May 26 began as any other Tuesday for Michael DeZubiria. He put on his suit, commuted from Arlington, Va., into downtown Washington, D.C., and settled in for his workday at the U.S. Peace Corps headquarters.  Then, shortly after lunch, he took a five-block stroll to Pennsylvania Avenue. “I walked up to the Secret Service on the sidewalk,” DeZubiria recalled. “I just said, ‘I have a meeting with the president at 3:30.’” Read more.

Molly Gavin '03 proves the power of networking, risk taking

June 23, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Molly Gavin’s career is a sequence of bold moves. The start of it all could be pinned to when, as an intern at Motorola, she sent an email to former CEO Robert “Bob” Galvin. From a speech Galvin delivered to the group of summer interns in Schaumberg, Ill., Gavin gathered she had more in common with the then-81-year-old than a similar last name. Read more.

Investing in the Future: Alumni Couple Makes Historic Gift

May 1, 2015 By Jade Griffin | UC San Diego Communications

HansonThe University of California, San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies has received the largest alumni gift in the School’s history thanks to class of 1996 alumni, Lisa and Jay Hanson.

With their recent pledge of $250,000, the couple has established the Hanson Sterner Fellowship Fund, which will benefit graduate students pursuing a Master of International Affairs (formerly the Master of Pacific International Affairs) at UC San Diego. The fellowship fund, which is endowed, will remain in perpetuity.

“We thank Lisa and Jay Hanson for their visionary gift,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Fellowships are critical for graduate students, who play a key role in UC San Diego’s research enterprise. Upon graduation, these outstanding scholars will go on to become the innovators, teachers and leaders of tomorrow.”

“We are so grateful to the Hansons for this historic gift to support our outstanding students,” said Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. “This donation is truly a groundbreaking action representing our alumni’s dedication to ensuring the long-term success of both our students and the school as a whole.”

The Hansons, who met each other while attending IR/PS as students, credit their education at UC San Diego with giving them the tools to succeed in business both in the United States and abroad.  Jay has a long history at eBay, Inc., and currently serves as vice president of European Expansion and Cross Border Trade at the Fortune 500 company.  Lisa worked in the finance industry, before focusing on raising the couple’s young children. Currently, the Hansons live in Berlin, where Jay leads a large part of eBay’s European operations.

The couple’s choice to give to the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, and specifically to graduate fellowships, is a personal one.  “Both of us benefited from financial support while we were there,” said Lisa. “The School had a big impact on our lives, so we would like to help make that opportunity possible for future students.”

Jay received the Nick Binkley Fellowship, established by the first chair of the School’s International  Advisory Board, while Lisa benefited from various scholarships to support her studies. Fellowships play a key role in helping to ensure that graduate students can focus on their studies rather than worrying about working to support themselves through school. They can also be used to attract top students—like current IR/PS student Emily Foecke—who may be offered more competitive fellowship packages from other universities.  Fellowship support played a key role in Foecke’s decision to attend UC San Diego.

“I would not have come to UC San Diego without my fellowship, as I was leaving a well-paid private sector job and received a 75 percent tuition scholarship to another institution,” said Foecke, who received a more competitive fellowship package to attend IR/PS. Prior to attending UC San Diego, Foecke worked with development organizations in Cambodia, Kenya and Sierra Leone, as well as at two Fortune 500 companies.

“My fellowship allows me to focus on my studies and prepare for my career after graduation,” she continued.  “Alleviating the stress and financial management and planning that crushing student loans can bring has been critical for me to have the time and mental energy to fully invest myself in my coursework and to take leadership roles outside of the classroom.” 

At IR/PS, Foecke is focusing her studies on the implementation and evaluation of programs designed to address global issues ranging from poverty reduction to uality of life. Eventually, Foecke hopes to build a company that works with small to medium-sized nonprofits to help them invest their resources more responsibility and effectively to achieve the maximum possible impact around the globe.

“Financial assistance options for graduate education are paltry today, which presents a huge disincentive to graduates pursuing careers in social impact and not-for-profit ventures,” said Foecke. “Yet, these are the same ventures where young people from forward-thinking, data-driven intuitions like IR/PS are desperately needed to find solutions to the world’s biggest problems.”

The Hansons, like many alumni, couldn’t agree more. “We believe that the School will play a key role in creating the kinds of leaders that can help the world tackle the issues and opportunities we know are coming as a result of technological advancement, globalization, climate change and more,” said Jay. “We look at our gift as, not only an investment in the School, but also an investment in the future.”

Making a Global Impact Around the World in a Day

April 29, 2015 By Amy Robinson | GPS News

On April 18, more than 175 veterans, alumni, students and their families from San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Tokyo organized community service projects in support of the inaugural Around the World in a Day. Led by the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) and UC San Diego's International Studies Program (ISP), this collective group made a deep impact by giving their time, talent or treasure to a project of their choice.

UC San Diego has a strong tradition of cultivating volunteer opportunities. One such program is UCSD Alumni’s San Diego Promise. It is a commitment to the local educational community and features a variety of ongoing service opportunities throughout the year.

“Building on the momentum of San Diego Promise’s February 15 community revitalization project at Ross Elementary School, we launched ‘Phase II’ to support the ongoing goals of this high-achieving Clairemont neighborhood school,” said Mary Jo Ball, director of alumni affairs at IR/PS.

This effort also began a wonderful partnership with the UCSD Veterans Association, which recruited 30 veterans to join more than 100 alumni, staff, family and friends who spent the day giving back their time. The volunteers built and filled planter boxes, stenciled motivational phrases from Steven Covey's book "7 Habits" on campus and helped paint bricks.

A Global Impact

Leveraging our global community, alumni clubs, groups, individuals and friends were invited to volunteer in their own communities, for any amount of time. And, it had an impact. 

Ten Bay Area alumni partnered with the San Francisco Food Bank to prepare food delivery to local nonprofits. And, Tokyo alum Gary Bremermann ’91 organized for the club to volunteer at Second Harvest Japan, the country's "pioneer" food bank. They prepared and packed lunch boxes for over two hours.

“We had a great time volunteering at Second Harvest Japan. Helping out the community is always a worthy cause, but doing this as part of the new Around the World in a Day project made it even more meaningful,” said Tokyo club leader Jonathan Shalfi ’14.

The Seattle alumni club joined the King Conservation District, Longfellow Creek Legacy Council and the Duwamish Alive Coalition. Led by club leaders Andrew Curry ’06 and Melissa Nitsch '06, volunteers spent the day helping to restore the Duwamish watershed. Now in its tenth year, the DuwamishAlive! restoration event includes hundred of volunteers working together in more than a dozen watershed sites to preserve and enhance habitat for people and wildlife towards improving the health of the Puget Sound.

Along this theme, the Washington, D.C. club teamed up with the Rock Creek Conservancy the week prior. Alumni Ryan Pope ‘12 led the charge, timing it with the group's seventh annual Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup. Their goal is stream cleanup of the creek and its tributaries, and organizes trash cleanups at over 75 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek

"The D.C. alumni club participated in the annual Rock Creek Park cleanup organized by the Rock Creek Conservancy. IRPSers helped preserve the beauty of Washington, D.C.'s largest city park by removing trash and recyclables and clearing hiking trails," said Ryan Pope ’12.

Ways to give back

Whatever your passion, however you get involved, volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact on the world. It can be a great way to develop skills, learn more about career options, make friends and garner new professional contacts. And at UC San Diego, Chancellor Khosla challenges us all to perform 50 hours or more of community service. Learn about opportunities and ways to get involved at Volunteer50.

“Alumni and students not only made a big difference helping their communities for our inaugural Around the World in a Day event, but they had a great time doing it too,” said Mary Jo Ball.

Read the story produced by UCSD Alumni Triton Magazine and view the photo gallery from the day.

Additional sponsors for the Ross Elementary projects included the Education Corps at UCSD, UCSD Veterans Association, San Diego Credit Union and UC San Diego's Volunteer50.

8th annual Career Services & alumni trip a success

Feb. 26, 2015 By Nurit Mandel with Anthony King | GPS News

For eight consecutive years, the Career Services department at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) has reached out to potential employers to plan a series of informational site visits, taking students on an official “field trip” stretched over the course of two intensive days.

The Feb. 18 – 19 trip concluded with over 85 alumni, students and staff at the School’s annual Bay Area Alumni Reception listening to professor Jennifer Burney give an overview of her research. Burney is an environmental scientist whose research focuses on simultaneously achieving global food security and mitigating climate change. Much of her current work focuses on the developing world.

But before the reception, one group of students met with technology giants Google, Facebook, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Sony Entertainment Network and PayPal in Silicon Valley while another descended on San Francisco. They visited nonprofit, public sector and energy-focused organizations including The Asia Foundation, U.S. Federal Reserve and Government Accountability Office, Opinion Dynamics, E.ON Climate & Renewables, and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Global business leaders were also on hand, with students meeting representatives from Matthews International Capital, IW Group and Tetra Tech DPK consulting. In addition to meeting alumni, the goal of the trip is to offer current students networking opportunities that often lead to post-graduation employment.

Liz Batty, a current Master of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) candidate, said she was glad she went on the trip, and even connected with several key people.

“Some of the visits allowed for small group sessions with employers, really giving me an advantage,” she said. “One hiring manager offered to interview me for a future position.”

Batty’s experience is not uncommon, as alumnus Alan Elliott, MPIA ’12, can attest. Three years ago, Elliott participated in the same outreach trip, connecting with representatives at Opinion Dynamics. While they did not have any specific openings at the time, Elliott said he kept in touch with the company and was offered an opportunity to join their team several months later.

The trips take a lot of coordination and would not be possible without the support of alumni like Elliott and Mike Vergara, MPIA ’93. Vergara is the current vice president of consumer risk management at PayPal and spent over an hour with 24 students. A self-proclaimed “proud IR/PS graduate,” Vergara gave insight into his field on a global scale, as well as the overall culture at PayPal.

“Fit is important,” he said. “Having great employees is the best thing we can do. That’s why we’re successful.”

Elliott and Vergara’s enthusiasm for helping current students is a strong trait among graduates. Setting up these site visits perpetuates the career success of current students and often, as in Vergara’s case, it means alumni can “pay it forward” for future generations of students.

Vergara ended by encouraging students to pursue their passions by trying as many different opportunities as possible until they uncover that best fit. “Find the thing you love,” he said. “Life is too short to get up each morning and do something you don’t like.”

Alumni return for Winter Connections 2015

Feb. 2, 2015 By Anthony King | GPS News

Over a dozen School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) alumni returned to campus for Winter Connections, the popular, daylong event bringing current and former students together to offer career advice, employment hints and — reiterated throughout the day — networking opportunities.

“Networking is probably one of the most important things you can do while at IR/PS,” alumnus Dominique Navarro ’12 said in her presentation, Business Development in the Non-Profit Sector. Navarro is the development coordinator at the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives.

“Do whatever you can to start building those relationships right now. That’s what’s going to help you in the long run,” she said.

Navarro represented just one industry students are interested in working in after graduation. In all, 13 alumni from the public, private, non-profit and research sectors held small, informal sessions, ranging from careers in sustainability and international health research to organization-specific tips in gaining employment with the United States government and Qualcomm, Inc.

Steven Buchsbaum ’97, a current IR/PS alumni board member, is a deputy director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle and offered an inside view to getting hired and working at the international nonprofit, which he called “first and foremost” a family foundation.

“We look at the things we aspire to help with and ask a basic question: are there things that we could do today that are being underutilized?” he said. “Our job [at the foundation] is to be creative and attempt to deliver on those things.”

After a brief overview of the foundation, Buchsbaum showed a short video of the program he heads, Discovery & Translational Sciences. He then discussed the inside politics and procedures of how they staff, and students were eager to learn how they could prepare for potential work at the Gates Foundation while focusing on their personal and academic goals.

Internships were also a focus of discussion in the sessions, with many current students asking what skills are important for them to bring to potential organizations. While there was no one answer — “it’s more about how you approach solving problems,” Whitney Caruso ’13 said — the importance of internships was reiterated several times.

“The best thing I did [while at IR/PS] was take on an internship while taking classes,” Navarro said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but well worth it.”

Caruso and Sithu Thein Swe ’10 work for separate nonprofit and foundation consulting firms, and presented together on their post-graduation experience. While both work for the private sector, the alumni were most interested in nonprofit work. They said the mid-sized businesses they work for now, with networking opportunities that reach deep into the non-profit sector, were virtually unknown to them before.

“I wish I would have known this industry even existed,” Caruso said. “There’s just so much out there that I didn’t know. A lot of learning is meeting people you want to work with on a daily basis.”

Swe was able to speak on a difficult, but not-often discussed issue for many IR/PS graduate students: securing a U.S. work Visa after graduation. Roughly 50 percent of each IR/PS graduating class is foreign born, and many would like to pursue careers in the U.S.

“Do your homework on what is involved with the Visa process,” Swe, who is from Myanmar, said. “Small companies probably won’t know, so you just need to reassure them with confidence, do your homework and be diligent. Really take ownership in what is involved with the process.”

Following the individual afternoon sessions, visiting alumni participated in a larger panel session in the Robinson Auditorium. The networking — which underscored one of the most important lessons from Winter Connections — continued into the evening’s dinner reception.

Winter Connections 2015

AlumniKim Almeida ’09, program manager, Levi Strauss & Co.
Marjon Barrigan ’12, civil investigator, International Organized Crime and Intelligence Operations Center
Steven Buchsbaum ’97, deputy director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Whitney Caruso ’13, strategy director, Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies
Dominique Navarro ’12, development coordinator, Center on Policy Initiatives
Heather Rock ’06, threat analyst, Chevron Global Security
Amit Sharma ’13, transfer pricing staff, Ernst and Young
Matt Siordia ’12, trade specialist, U.S. International Trade Administration
Katie Sproule ’11, senior research assistant, International Food Policy Research Institute
Sithu Thein Swe ’10, senior associate, Blue Garnet
Adam Whinston ’06, supply chain assessments director, SGS
Erica Whinston ’06, senior manager, Qualcomm, Inc.
Yiru Xue ’12, planning analyst, Amazon Web Services

Q&A: Carlued Leon ’09

Alumna addresses violence against women in Micronesia
May 27, 2015 By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

Leon_GuatemalaCarlued Leon spent almost half of last year in Micronesia. Before then, she didn’t even know where it was—let alone the statistics that beset the strand of islands and, more importantly, women on them. Now, she not only can pinpoint Micronesia on a map, but she knows the figures to shed light on violence against females there.

As the global research manager of Los Angeles-based MANAUS Consulting, Leon is the face for most all research consultancies relating to international development and corporate social responsibility.

The firm, founded by fellow alumna Tamar Benzaken Koosed ’09, landed the Micronesia consultancy through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Micronesia department of health implemented it on the ground from February to June 2014.

“The women were very touched by the project,” Leon recollected.

For some perspective, the study provided 42 percent of women in Micronesia experience both physical and sexual violence. On top of that, 89 percent of those women never sought help from formal services.

Still, the heavy conversations that ensued those findings don’t outweigh Leon’s positive memories of the trip.

The word “Micronesia” reminds her of the blue ocean, heat and rain, she recalled. Plus, she now laughs about her minor rabies scare from a dog bite, specifically when the women comforted her in that, per Micronesian customs, “When a dog bites you, you’re entitled to eat it.” (She didn’t.)

We tracked down the alumna to learn more about her role in the project and how the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, now the School of Global Policy and Strategy, prepared her for it.

Can you give us a quick overview of the Micronesia project?

CL: It was a mixed-method study that combined a quantitative component (household survey) with qualitative research elements (focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders). We worked closely with the department of health, the national gender coordinator, the statistics office, community-level health centers and women’s groups. Our enumerators were mostly nurses and women’s group members.

We also worked closely with UNFPA technical staff in Fiji, with statistical analysis consultants based in the U.S. and Tanzania and with a technical review committee (TRC). That committee consisted of subject-matter experts that reviewed the study to ensure it met international research standards. One of the members of that TRC was Mary Ellsberg, Ph.D., who is part of the team of experts that designed the World Health Organization survey on violence against women, which we used as basis for our household survey. Another TRC member was Lianne Urada, an assistant professor at UC San Diego in the division of Global Public Health.

What were the most startling and predictable facets of your findings?

CL: The most predictable was the high prevalence of women who experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime at the hands of an intimate partner (33 percent nationwide and as high as 60 percent by state). Similar studies had been conducted in other Pacific islands, such as Kiribati and Vanuatu. We also expected to see a strong association between having experienced partner violence in childhood and experiencing it in adulthood, as violence in general is a learned behavior. Women who reported their partner’s mother was hit by a partner when the partner was a child were three times more likely to experience partner violence.

We also asked questions around circumstances in which it is acceptable for a husband to hit his wife. While older women did show high agreement with this statement (around 40 percent), an unexpected, larger proportion of younger women (particularly in the ages of 15-24) also agreed that a husband is justified to hit his wife if, for example, she disobeyed her husband (47 percent). We believe this responds to cultural norms.

Has violence against women always been of interest to you? What about the Micronesia region?

CL: I’ve always had an interest in understanding how specific socioeconomic issues and challenges affect women differently. For example, I worked in projects aimed at increasing women’s access to financial tools, women’s social and political empowerment, educational advancement and so on. In doing so, I naturally got involved in projects that touched on violence. In 2011, I got involved in a project on trafficking in women and girls in Nepal. The following year, I got involved in a gender-based violence project in El Salvador. In pursuing gender-centered projects, I also started accumulating experience not only in Latin America, where I am from, but also in Asia.

In what ways did GPS prepare you for this project and others throughout your career thus far?

CL: It gave me the technical skills. That is, thinking what your program or policy aims to accomplish, how to measure it, how to design instruments so that you collect the type of data and conduct the type of analysis you need in order to answer whether it works, how and how much. It also gave me access to resources and a network of people who work in the same field and have influenced what I do today.

Commencement is right around the corner. Any parting advice for GPS graduates?

CL: I would recommend two things.

First, look for jobs and organizations whose values and work is aligned with your interests, even if it’s a small organization. These are the organizations where you can build relevant work experience that is meaningful to you and that you will be able to talk about to future employers.

Second, use the GPS network. Reach out to alumni or faculty. Ask for guidance. We are always happy to help out the same way our alumni helped us when we just graduated. Even today, we constantly reach out to the network to create project partnerships, get introduced to someone at the organization where they work or to get referrals for consultants we may need for our projects.

2014 Outstanding Award Winner Jorge Blandon ‘01 and Kahori Matsui ‘99

Awards are made for outstanding achievement in any of the following areas: professional achievement, volunteer work, humanitarianism, a single exceptional achievement and service to the School.

The 2014 Outstanding Award Winners are Jorge Blandon ‘01 and Kahori Matsui ‘99.

blandonJorge Blandon, MPIA ‘01
Blandon currently works for the Family Independence Initiative (FII) where he leads the data collection and analysis efforts. With data he is challenging stereotypes and showcasing the initiatives and progress working — poor families make on behalf of themselves and their communities. He takes those real insights and transforms them into resources that are tailored to the unique demands of families that are part of FII. Prior to joining FII, Blandon worked for seven years in the financial securitization sector, focusing on essential infrastructure projects in the U.S. and abroad as well as underwriting U.S. municipal bonds. 

matsuiKahori Matsui, MPIA ‘99
Matsui joined SoftBank in 2010 after 10+ years of management consulting and new business development experiences at Accenture and Recruit. She has managed its strategic transactions including its acquisition of Sprint in 2012 – 2013, the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm. She recently moved to San Francisco and is the vice president of strategy and business development of SoftBank Product Group to lead various projects involving SoftBank major assets in the U.S. market.

Past Winners
(2013) Emily Murase, MPIA '90
(2012) David An, MPIA '07
(2011) Richard Boly, MPIA '92 and Mark Spalding, MPIA '92
(2010) Gary Bremermann, MPIA '91
(2009) Brooke Partridge, MPIA '91
(2008) Gigo Alampay, MPIA '96, Dr. Jodi Finkel, MPIA '92, and Kevin Trepa, MPIA '05
(2007) Kama Dean, MPIA '01 and Chris Pesenti, MPIA '01
(2006) Paul Lamb, MPIA '95, was also honored as the Distinguished Alumni of the Year by the UC San Diego Alumni Association

Q&A: Elizabeth Phu ‘00

Nov. 5, 2014 By Anthony King | GPS News

elizabeth phuWhat was your initial reason for choosing the School?
Elizabeth Phu: I wanted a school that one, required me to study a language and two, I wanted a school that was strong on Southeast Asia. The language was particularly important to me because I had been advised that your credibility when working in any international arena really depended on whether or not you could speak the language of your region of expertise. There were only a handful of schools that fit both.
If you could name one or two lessons you took away, what would they be?
EP: The teamwork that we were forced to do has been invaluable.
Do you have any fun memories from your time at the School?
EP: I have lots and lots of wonderful memories of my time there, from the Halloween parties at the ‘school’ house to the QM video showing (my team's video won that year!). But, one of my favorites was the auction of the men on PIASO. I was treasurer at that time, and I convinced the men on PIASO to auction themselves off to raise funds for the group. It was fantastic!
Are there any professors who stood out for you? Who and how?
EP: Andrew McIntyre [1994 – 2002] was one of my favorites, which helped since Southeast Asia was my region of focus and he was one of a hand full of professors who specialized in that region. Years after graduation, I was in South Korea and heard a voice in a hotel restaurant that I immediately recognized; it was Stephan Haggard, who was amazing at guiding me through one particular research paper.
Finally, Richard Feinberg stands out as one who taught me skills I still use today. I was one of his research assistants, but I also took one of his classes for which he always added assignments and demanded incredibly complex position papers that could only be two pages long. I thought that was crazy, but that is exactly how we write in government. It felt impossible keeping his papers to two pages, and sometimes I feel that way now. But, whether it has been for the secretary of defense, the national security advisor or the president, professor Feinberg's lessons in clear but brief arguments have been key.
How did the School prepare you for your work after graduation and your current position?
EP: The teamwork and the critical thinking (and fast writing) are exactly what have gotten me through every position in government since I graduated.
What are some important projects you are working on now in your career?
EP: In a couple of short weeks, I'll be traveling with President Obama. That preparation is all consuming now.
Do you have suggestions or tips that you would give our students in order for them to enjoy and maximize their time at the School?
EP: Enjoy every minute of school while you’re still in it, and do as much with your classmates outside of the classroom as possible. Whether that’s PIASO or D.C. internships, those opportunities will be gone once you join the workforce, so take advantage of them now.

Jenn Shin '12: At the Forefront of National Preparedness

Nov. 6, 2014 By Jade Griffin | UC San Diego Communications

The next time you hear a news report of an impending hurricane or security threat, you can consider it a point of pride knowing that School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) alumna Jenn Shin had a hand in ensuring that those who respond to the emergency will be as prepared as possible to help those in need.

Shin, who graduated from IR/PS in 2012 with her MPIA, is a senior analyst at Obsidian Analysis, a Washington, D.C.-based professional services firm that provides analytical and policy consulting for homeland security, national security and intelligence decision makers. The company serves clients including Amtrak and FEMA, for which Obsidian now provides regular training, following the federal agency’s widely-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina.

Shin has helped create curricula and simulations to train first responders to better handle national incidents ranging from hurricanes and earthquakes to terrorist attacks.  Before joining Obsidian, Shin worked for several years at defense giant, SAIC, as a nuclear policy analyst.

Shin credits her IR/PS education — the unique pairing of policy analysis with strategy in the international community — for giving her the tools to make an impact in the growing national preparedness industry. A Triton through and through, Shin also earned her bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego in international relations and political science. She then worked at the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC), which is housed at IR/PS, before enrolling in the school as a graduate student.

Though Shin now resides on the East Coast, she has kept her connection to UC San Diego strong by volunteering her time and insight as a member of the IR/PS Alumni board’s development subcommittee. She also returned to campus in April to interview IR/PS students as part of a Career Connections event.

“When you look at my resume, UC San Diego is everywhere,” said Shin. “UCSD gave so much to me. I feel I owe it to the campus to give back. It is the best way that I can maintain my impact from so far away.”

Since graduation, Shin has given regularly to IR/PS Annual Fund, which supports the graduate school’s most urgent needs. She likens her giving to building a retirement fund. “It might not seem like a lot now, but it will go a long way over time. Young alums might think their gift needs to be large, but gifts of all sizes make an impact.”

As Shin looks to the future of IR/PS, she is dedicated to helping the school continue to advance its global reputation for research, teaching and impact in a wide range of fields. “The value of IR/PS doesn’t end at graduation,” said Shin. “It is the start of a process where alumni can help steer the dialogue and future of the school. IR/PS is at the forefront of international policy, research and assessment. Based on what it has given us, we should all want to be a part of its bright future.”

Q&A: Sungjun Oh ‘14

July 29, 2014 By Anthony King | GPS News
Sungjun OhIn early May, we published a story about the School of International Relations’ (IR/PS) role in educating the world’s diplomats, featuring 1992 graduate and Korean Ambassador Hangu Oh and his son, Sungjun Oh.
A junior diplomat for Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Sungjun Oh went on to graduate with a Master of Advanced Studies in International Affairs this June.
While the original story focused on Ambassador Oh’s campus return, Sungjun Oh took time to answer a few questions as follow up to his father’s visit. Printed here, the new graduate discusses his own return to IR/PS — he was 8 years old when his father was studying in San Diego — his time at the School and the importance of diversity for students.
What prompted you to attend IR/PS for your degree as a junior diplomat?
SO: I believe experience counts for much more than a single degree to further one's career in the future. With everyone getting higher degrees these days, getting a degree from the ‘outside’ counts even more. You get to be away from it all.
So in contrary to many of my friends, I looked for a place away from the [Korean] capital where I wouldn't be locked in from the policy-making environment. Then, I re-found IR/PS. It was what I was looking for: diverse, with analysis from the 'outside' environment. Besides, I really missed the SoCal weather and social atmosphere.
As I said, it is the school environment that counts much more in terms of career. The academic course itself is useful in making you ask questions and provide pathways to new perspectives. UC San Diego, and especially IR/PS, is a good blend of the two.
Your father mentioned your undergraduate work in political science and said that was in part because of your early exposure to politics when you were a child. How have you found your time at the School?
SO: I also majored in economics in undergrad. Majoring in both was due in part because of exposure to what's going on, and that it is always a blend of the two that makes a better approach to looking at things. It was good to introduce myself to the new approaches that are going on in the fields at IR/PS, especially the political science field.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my physical time at IR/PS and UC San Diego very much, but the heavy workload! I knew that approaching politics and policy away from Washington, D.C. would mean much more additional work, so I don't regret it. I also hope I get to reach out to IR/PS throughout my career, as I do with the poli sci professors at Seoul National University, and exchange views on what's going on.
The opportunity to study with other Asian students, from China and Japan for example, is an important part of being at IR/PS. How has this been for you in your experience? Why is it valuable to study with other international students?
SO: The chance to interact with so many students from diverse backgrounds is always valuable, because you get a real-life chance to escape certain biases that pervade throughout the capitals anywhere. It also makes you see a single event from various backgrounds all at once, while hanging out with your friends. I always had this chance while growing up, and I still enjoy it.
I hope this continues in IR/PS well into the future. IR/PS is one of, or maybe the only, renowned public university with an international relations program. And because my friends from the MoFA are spread out in other schools, we get to compare the programs when we get together.
UC San Diego campus and IR/PS is the only school that has real diversity, if only because diversity is the norm here and no one considers it as a goal.

Q&A: Paul Lamb ‘95

May 7, 2014 By Anthony King | GPS News
Paul LambWhat was your initial reason for choosing the School?
Paul Lamb: I was interested in pursuing my passion for U.S.-China relations but in a more balanced way, and IR/PS was one of the few schools which offered a holistic curriculum and professional degree including studies in business, international development and international relations.
If you could name one or two lessons you took away, what would they be?
PL: IR/PS taught me to think more keenly about international relations and business, and to integrate the academic and the hands-on, which has become my M.O. moving forward. Another lessons was to do my best to surround myself with culturally diverse individuals who can provide multiple perspectives on issues.

Do you have any fun memories from your time at the School?
PL: I remember the first ever IR/PS Olympics, which we launched back in 1995. If I recall correctly, much to our dismay one of the professor-stacked basketball teams actually beat us students in one game. Despite the loss, it was great to see that our professors could ‘bring it,’ both inside and outside of the classroom.
Fortunately, I think the students ultimately saved face by beating them for the gold.
How did the School prepare you for your work after graduation and your current position?
PL: Beyond help with Chinese and providing a more in-depth understanding of China, IR/PS helped me to hone my business skills. As a consultant, I work with a broad range of nonprofit and private-sector clients, and simple things like the ability to read and develop financial spreadsheets has proven to be extremely important in my work. Even though I am not a numbers person, I actually teach financials to social entrepreneurs on occasion. IR/PS made this possible.
Are there any professors who stood out for you? Who and how?
PL: Barry Naughton and Susan Shirk were wonderful instructors and are just great people. Not only were they brilliant in peeling away the layers of the onion in Chinese economics and politics, but they were also very supportive and helpful in advancing my career. Susan Shirk was directly responsible for helping me to land a position with the U.S. China Business Council right out of IR/PS.
What are some important projects you are working on now in your career?
PL: Right now I have the pleasure of helping to launch a new nonprofit which, if its programs take off, could change the game on how giving is done in the U.S. I also am lucky enough to be working with a large foundation on a series of technology innovation projects.
Do you have suggestions or tips that you would give our students in order for them to enjoy and maximize their time at the School?
PL: One of the best aspects of IR/PS was the people, particularly my fellow students. They are some the smartest, gifted and genuinely good people I have ever met. A decade and a half after leaving IR/PS, many of us still stay in touch and find opportunities to play together, not to mention helping each other to find work opportunities.

We Are Tritons: Richard Boly, MPIA '92

Oct. 21, 2013 By UC San Diego Alumni News (read original story here)

Richard BolyRichard Boly is a career U.S. diplomat and currently the director of the Office of eDiplomacy, an applied technology think tank for the U.S. Department of State. Previously, he was a National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he launched the Global Entrepreneurship Program. He recently served in the U.S. Embassy in Rome, where he developed and ran a program to promote entrepreneurship in Italy. Richard is a graduate of Stanford University and received his MPIA in 1992.
Q: What was your favorite subject outside of your major at UC San Diego?
A: Filmmaking. I enjoyed the collaborative team creativity. I wish I had a copy of our team’s film, El Cigaron!
Q: What course or faculty made the biggest impression on you?
A: Professor Wayne Cornelius was inspirational and tremendously supportive of my field research on migrant remittance. I brought that passion to my first diplomatic posting in the Dominican Republic, where I designed and completed a definitive study of the money sent back to the Dominican Republic by expat Dominicans. This side project resulted in a change in Dominican Central Bank methodology.
Q: What was your favorite place to hang out?
A: The cove. I miss open water swimming.
Q: What book did you last read (or are currently reading) and who is your favorite author?
A: Sebastian Rotella’s Triple Crossing. I loved that it took place in San Diego and the tri-border region of South America, which I visited often while working at our Embassy in Paraguay. My favorite author is the Peruvian Nobel prize-winner, Mario Vargas Llosa. I’ve read most of his books in Spanish and was lucky enough to have dinner with him in Milan while working at our Embassy in Rome.
Q: What is your “X Factor“ – the key trait or quality that has helped you succeed in your career and/or life?
A: Being an innovator in risk-averse environments. Even traditional organizations need to innovate and doing so is especially challenging. I like to think that all innovators embrace constraints. If you are in a tech startup, you might wish that you had another awesome coder or more time before launching ahead of the competition, but you need to work within existing constraints. A big company may wish it could be as nimble as a startup.  Well, in government, the constraints include slow decision and budget cycles, but given those constraints, I would match our team in eDiplomacy against any other.
Q: What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
A: Follow your bliss and never just settle for something that you are not passionate about. Even in a tough job environment, do what you love. You will find a way to pay the bills and by following your passion, you will find fewer days when you need to drag yourself out of bed to do a job that doesn’t thrill you.

Q: Do you give back to UC San Diego? If so, how and why (time, talent or treasure)?
A: Yes, yes and yes! I am where I am in a large part due to the life pivot that my time at UC San Diego made possible. I mentor current students, evangelize and contribute to the University. I strongly believe that UC graduates should be giving back even more than alumni from Ivy League universities. We are building a tradition every bit as strong and influential and owe it to ourselves and those who follow us to support every way we can.