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Student Profiles

Our School is internationally recognized for its excellence, and a key reason for our growing distinction is our ability to attract the best graduate students from across the globe. Here is a sampling of our student scholars. 

Dean's Fellows

We are proud to introduce the students who have been selected as Dean's Fellows. This special distinction serves to signal the professional qualities of excellence that the School cultivates and honors, to reward outstanding performance by students and to create a prestigious group of high-quality students and alumni to showcase to the world.

Selection Criteria
  • Academic Excellence: select students are at the top of their class based on first-year GPA performance
  • Leadership: demonstrated leadership at the School and campus, as well as in community affairs
  • Citizenship: involvement in activities with a public purpose such as active volunteerism
  • Regional involvement: meaningful engagement in the Pacific region encompassing Latin America and Asia such as study or work abroad, internships and activities focusing on the region and its people

Robertson Fellows

The Robertson Foundation for Government aspires to make a difference by offering annual financial support for graduate students pursuing federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and international affairs.

Established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson and named in their honor, the foundation pursues a mission that was central to the Robertson’s philanthropic activities: strengthening the U.S. government and increasing its ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world by improving the training and education of men and women for government service, with particular emphasis on international relations and foreign affairs.

Robertson Fellows at selected universities receive full scholarships and full internship stipends from the foundation. They also commit to work for the federal government for a minimum of three of their first seven years after graduation.

Note: We do not receive unsolicited applications for Robertson Fellowships. An internal committee makes recommendations based on applicants accepted to the School and meets the mission of the program.

Sylff Fellows

Created in 1987, the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) program is designed to support graduate students studying in the humanities and social sciences fields at 69 universities in 44 countries. In 1991, a $1 million dollar endowment was received to create the Sylff program at UC San Diego to support the education of outstanding students pursuing their graduate studies with high potential for global leadership. Professor Ulrike Schaede is the chair of this program at the School.

We commemorated 20 years of supporting Sylff Fellows on May 26, 2011 in conjunction with events celebrating 50 years of UC San Diego historic milestones, remarkable achievements and innovative firsts since the university’s founding in 1960. Read the story.

2016–17 Sylff Fellows

  • Rick Ferrera, MIA '17

    Rick Ferrera, MIA '17

    Career Track: International Economics

    Regional Focus: Latin America

  •  Philip Voris, MIA ’18

    Philip Voris, MIA ’18

    Career Track: International Management, International Environmental Policy

    Regional Focus: Japan

2016–17 Dean's Fellows

  • Taylor Bright, MIA ’17

    Taylor Bright, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Politics

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia

    Taylor is the former director of operations for Pura Vida Bracelets, which provides employment for local artisans in Costa Rica and proceeds toward charities. In summer 2016, Taylor interned as a House Fellow for the House Financial Services Committee in Washington, D.C. At GPS, she is president of QuIRPS and vice president of marketing and communications for GO GPS. Taylor plans to pursue a career in the federal government, applying research and analysis to issues concerning national security, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. 

  • Ashlee Ellsworth, MIA ’17

    Ashlee Ellsworth, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Management, International Politics

    Regional Focus: Japan

    Prior to attending GPS, Ashlee was an intern at Qualcomm Inc., learning international management and business strategy practices. She also worked in Tokyo for the Mitsubishi Research Institute. At the School, Ashlee is the events director for Women Going Global and co-director of events for GO GPS. After graduation, she hopes to enter into private sector consulting to help companies manage human capital and promote cooperation between Asian Pacific countries and the U.S.
  • Rick Ferrera, MIA ’17

    Rick Ferrera, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Economics

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    Rick has worked in logistics, strategic consulting, marketing and education in the U.S., Spain and Indonesia. After his undergraduate studies, he completed an AmeriCorps year of service in Minneapolis-Saint Paul and a Fulbright Fellowship in Indonesia. He has walked across the Indonesian island of Sumbawa and (almost) the state of Minnesota. His team also won the 2015 Big Durian Race, an annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored competition in Jakarta, Indonesia. At GPS, he helps lead Southeast Asia Link and Export Access Global Consulting.

  • Camila Gomes, MIA ’17

    Camila Gomes, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Development and Nonprofit Management

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    Camila previously worked for the Central Bank of Brazil, providing support to the Department of International Relations and to the Deputy Governor of International Affairs. At GPS, she serves as a research assistant and is involved in the Latin American Student Organization, the admissions office and the Development Club, of which she is vice president. In summer 2016, Camila worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. She aspires to apply her data analysis skills to the design and evaluation of development policies and programs.

  • Travis Holtby, MIA ’17

    Travis Holtby, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Environmental Policy

    Regional Focus: China

    After working at a public health nonprofit in northeastern India, Travis lived in Tibet. Later relocating to Moab, Utah, he worked for several years as a reporter for a regional newspaper. As well in Moab, he was a natural builder, designing and constructing straw houses for low-income families. At GPS, Travis is co-director of the Environmental Policy and Business Forum and the vice president of finance for the Net Impact club. Following graduation, he hopes to help firms integrate sustainable practices and corporate social responsibility.

  • Alan Jimenez-Cervantes, BA/MIA ’17

    Alan Jimenez-Cervantes, BA/MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Economics, International Politics

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    A U.S. Army veteran, Alan completed overseas assignments in the Republic of Korea, the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq. During his seven years in service, he saw firsthand the relationship between economic forces and the migration of labor, which developed his interest in international economics and trade. His career goal is to work for the federal government, assisting in the development of U.S. foreign policy.

  • Seulki Kang, MIA ’17

    Seulki Kang, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Management

    Regional Focus: Korea

    Seulki has upheld a longtime interest in working on the human rights crisis in North Korea, particularly regarding women and children. As an undergraduate student at University of Florida, she founded the organization Liberty in North Korea and her senior thesis examined behaviors of human trafficking in China. She is the internal vice president for GO GPS and, outside of the School, is an economic research intern at the San Diego Association of Governments.
  • Youngsun Kwon, MIA ’17

    Youngsun Kwon, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Politics

    Regional Focus: Korea

    A former squad leader and outpost operator for the Republic of Korea Army, Youngsun was stationed along the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea while active duty—an experience that piqued his interested in security strategy of East Asia and the Korean Peninsula. At GPS, he is the president of GO GPS and vice president of finance for the Mannam. After graduation, he aspires to continue his work in security policy in East Asia.
  • Matthew Matsuyama, MIA ’18

    Matthew Matsuyama, MIA ’18

    Career Track: International Politics

    Regional Focus: Japan

    Matthew, as a Boren Fellow, is spending the 2016-17 school year studying in Japan, where he also interned in Tokyo at the Mitsubishi Research Institute in summer 2016. A research assistant at the School’s Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, Matthew worked as an English teacher in Gifu, Japan, for 18 months before joining the School. After graduation, he hopes to work for the U.S. Department of State as a policy analyst.
  • Thomas Murphey, MIA ’17

    Thomas Murphey, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Management, International Economics

    Regional Focus: China

    Thomas honed his interest in Chinese and East Asian affairs during his four-year tenure as a lecturer at Shanghai University. At GPS, he works as a staff writer for the China Focus Blog, where he has written on topics such as entrepreneurship in China and North Korean relations. He aspires to develop innovative private and public sector strategies in the East Asia region.

  • Daniela Pardo-Yepez, MIA ’17

    Daniela Pardo-Yepez, MIA ’17

    Career Track: Public Policy, International Development

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    Prior to GPS, Daniela served as an independent consultant for corporate social responsibility and sustainability projects in Ecuador. At the School, she is president of the Development Club and a board member of the Latin American Student Organization, as well as a representative for UC San Diego’s Graduate Student Association. Her career goal is to liaise between nonprofits, multilaterals organization and governments through impact evaluation projects that influence social policies in Latin America.
  • David Price, MIA ’17

    David Price, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Economics, International Development and Nonprofit Management

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    At Price Philanthropies Foundation in San Diego, David held roles as a grants officer and as assistant supervisor to the Bidayat Early Childhood Education Program. In addition to serving on committees with The San Diego Foundation, The Jewish Community Foundation and The WILDCATS Foundation, he has worked as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska and Baja California, Mexico. At GPS, he is the president of the Latin American Student Organization. After graduation, he hopes to grow his family’s multinational business, PriceSmart Inc.
  • Anton Prokopyev, MIA ’17

    Anton Prokopyev, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Management

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    Anton has worked in public relations and communications roles in both internationally acclaimed startups and Fortune 500 technology companies. He speaks fluent English, Spanish and Russian, plus is conversational in Chuvash. At GPS, he is a vice president of the Latin America Student Organization and a graduate researcher at UC San Diego’s Machine Learning for Social Sciences Lab. Anton’s career goal is to transform data-driven econometric research into actionable business and public policy insights.
  • Adriel Taslim, MIA ’18

    Adriel Taslim, MIA ’18

    Career Track: Public Policy

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia and China

    As part of a Boren Fellowship, Adriel is spending the 2016-17 school year in Thailand. A seasoned concert violinists and performer, he is versed in French, German and Mandarin and has completed two teaching stints in Southeast Asia—in 2012 as an English teacher in rural Taiwan and in 2014 in Lamphun with the Teach Thailand Corps. Adriel aspires to work in a cultural affairs or a policy role to continue learning and promoting cultural understanding between Western nations and Southeast Asia.
  • Giang Thai, MIA ’17

    Giang Thai, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Development and Nonprofit Management

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia

    Giang has completed various internships in Washington, D.C., on public-private partnership and women empowerment. Prior to GPS, she spent a year in her hometown Hanoi, Vietnam, working in business development and grant writing at Plan International. At GPS, she is involved in the Baja Project, Strategic Community Consulting and is vice president of events for the Development Club. Her career goal is to bring data-driven impact evaluation in development intervention design and policymaking processes. 

  • Melia Ungson, MIA ’17

    Melia Ungson, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Environmental Policy

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia

    Upon completing an internship in the Political/Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, Melia’s interest in Southeast Asia was forever sparked. She returned to Laos as a Fulbright Scholar, conducting research related to solid waste management in urban areas, and extended her stay to work on a climate change vulnerability assessment with the Centre for Development and Environment in Vientiane. At GPS, Melia is vice president of academic affairs for GO GPS and is involved with Southeast Asia Link, QuIRPS and Net Impact. After graduation, she hopes to incorporate diplomacy and statistical analysis in a public service career.
  • Johannes Veerkamp, MIA ’17

    Johannes Veerkamp, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Politics, Economics

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    As a member of the Youth Advisory Board to the U.S. Embassy in Amsterdam, Johannes was involved in the design of several outreach projects to engage the consulate with the local community. Also before attending GPS, he founded a translating service that served as a platform to connect international and multilingual students with globally orientated startups from Amsterdam. After graduation, Johannes hopes to engage in conflict mediation and social entrepreneurship.
  • Weiran Wu, MIA ’17

    Weiran Wu, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Economics, International Management

    Regional Focus: China

    Weiran has held internships in both government departments and private sectors, focusing on financial and economic affairs. Prior to GPS, she worked in Ernst & Young’s Shanghai office, Taiwan Affairs Office of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government and Department of Foreign Affairs in Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce. In summer 2016, she worked as research intern in Prague at J&T Banka. Weiran serves as vice president of publicity for China Focus at GPS. After graduation, she aspires to foster business and economic relationships between the U.S. and China.

2016–17 Robertson Fellows

  • Richard Hill, MIA ’18

    Richard Hill, MIA ’18

    Career Track: International Economics

    Regional Focus: Latin America

    Amid serving as a full-time student, Richard also is an Air Force Reservist. His military career began at his undergraduate alma mater, UC Berkeley, where he was commissioned as an Air Force Intelligence Officer through Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 085. He has since completed assignments in Germany and Qatar as well as two deployments to sub-Saharan Africa and another to Afghanistan. His final active duty assignment was at the U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters in Omaha. After graduation, Richard hopes to pursue a civilian career in economic and trade policy.

  • Samuel Huang, MIA ’18

    Samuel Huang, MIA ’18

    Career Track: International Politics, International Economics

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia and Japan

    Prior to GPS, Samuel worked in the education sector as a strategic planning assistant in Grinnell College’s Office of the President, as an English teacher in Nagasaki, Japan, and a Chinese teacher at an after-school program in San Diego. He has studied abroad in Wonju, Korea, completed a yearlong International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University and held internships at Doosan Corp. Electro-Materials in Seoul and at Nicobar Group in Shanghai. Samuel aspires to enter the foreign service and facilitate diplomatic solutions for collective action problems.

  • Michael Schwab-Holler, MIA ’18

    Michael Schwab-Holler, MIA ’18

    Career Track: International Economics

    Regional Focus: China

    A former financial controller for Premium AEROTEC in Augsburg, Germany, Michael also was a Boren Fellow as an undergraduate student, traveling to Beijing to study Mandarin. He also received a grant from the Office of National Intelligence and University of South Florida’s National & Competitive Intelligence Program to attend a summer seminar on Russian foreign policy in Estonia and Finland. Michael hopes to pursue a career in the U.S. government. Michael’s summer 2016 internship will be with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency in Washington, D.C.

  • Adriel Taslim, MIA ’18

    Adriel Taslim, MIA ’18

    Career Track: Public Policy

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia and China

    Adriel, a seasoned concert violinists and performer, learned French, German and Mandarin in his undergraduate studies. He also has completed two teaching stints in Thailand—in 2012 as an English teacher in rural Taiwan and in 2014 in Lamphun with the Teach Thailand Corps. He aspires to work in a cultural affairs or a policy role to continue learning and promoting cultural understanding between Western nations and Southeast Asia. His summer 2016 internship is with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Atlanta, GA. Following his internship, Adriel will be spending the 2016-17 academic year on a Boren Fellowship in Thailand.

  • Melia Ungson, MIA ’17

    Melia Ungson, MIA ’17

    Career Track: International Environmental Policy

    Regional Focus: Southeast Asia

    As an intern in the Political/Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, Melia developed a staunch interest in Southeast Asia and Laos, specifically. She later returned to the country as a Fulbright Scholar to conduct research related to solid waste management in urban areas and ultimately extended her stay to work on a climate change vulnerability assessment for Laos with the Centre for Development and Environment in Vientiane. Melia’s career goal is to work in the U.S. Department of State. Melia’s summer 2016 internship will be with the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C.