Alumni Spotlight: Morten Tastum (BAIS ´14)

We thought it was time to catch up with one of our BAIS alumni. This week we caught up with Morten Tastum (BAIS ´14), who is currently a program coordinator and visiting fellow at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. 

MortenTastumSince graduating from USF with a Bachelor in International Studies, I have completed a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) with a focus on Global Politics and Security from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. 

A few months after graduating, I accepted a position as the program coordinator and visiting fellow for a completely new think tank under Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) called Nordic Ways. Nordic Ways is focused on bringing forth Nordic ideas and approaches to a wide array of issues covering business, industry, politics, and much more with a focus on practical application. I will assist in setting up the project for a future Nordic Program at SAIS, as well as coordinate between the Nordic country entities and the relevant US Congress caucuses.

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Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Tristan Burger(MAIS´17)

Tristan:

The Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship awarded me the opportunity to travel to The Hague this fall to attend a child protection conference. The 15th Annual International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) European Regional Conference brought together researchers, academics, practitioners, and experts in the field of child rights from around the globe to discuss the most pressing issues facing children today.

My capstone topic is centered on innovative approaches to preventing the recruitment of child soldiers in conflict zones. The subjects covered in this conference touched on all aspects of child rights from access to health and education, domestic abuse, and sexual and gender-based violence. The talks I attended illuminated the growing concern young people face in an increasingly digitalized and globalized world where gaining access to vulnerable groups of children is easier than ever. I was particularly interested in the role that technology plays in child abuse as my research focuses on harnessing technology to protect children. Several of the discussants remarked on the paradoxical nature of technology as it relates to child protection and proffered solutions for effective applications.

Not only did this conference allow me to view my research from new perspectives, it afforded me the opportunity to network with other leaders in this field. I received valuable insight and advice from social workers and human rights activists about my applied project. They brought up interested and insightful points that I would not have otherwise considered.

It was also a pleasure to explore The Hague, a city home to the International Criminal Court, the Peace Palace, and dozens of other human rights institutions. It was inspiring to walk around the streets and see buildings that I had learned about in my international law class last year. I highly encourage MAIS students to travel abroad to better understand the real-world application of the theories that are taught in the classroom.

It was an honor to represent USF and MAIS on this trip and I am so grateful for the experiences that this fellowship afforded!

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Alumni Spotlight: Francesca Mateo (MAIS’ 16)

We caught up with recent MAIS graduate, Francesca Mateo (MAIS ‘16) about her work with Project PEARLS, an NGO in the Philippines that aims to alleviate children from slum communities out of poverty through education and health. Here is an excerpt from a story she wrote documenting her experience and a new initiative to create a week-long dance summit as part of an immersion trip for Filipino-American choreographers. Be sure to read the full story here.

Francesca:

While in the MAIS program, my classmates and I were given several case studies in which we had to access numerous ways to problem-solve. For instance, how do we increase the nutrition in this particular community? Or, how do we approach a human rights issue in a community while remaining culturally sensitive? Because MAIS taught me how to take the time to understand an issue from several different angles, I am more prepared to create my own program.

While creating Art of Us, not only did I ask what the problem was but what were the factors that played a role in it. Creating Art of Us also required a great amount of teamwork considering I worked with three organizations to create it. The MAIS program helped with this as well. On top of papers and readings, MAIS requires its students to collaborate and debate and build together. MAIS helped build my professionalism, cooperative skills, as well as leadership.

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Masoud (BAIS ’14)

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Currently, I am working at the International Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s a refugee resettlement agency that also offers many free services to immigrants and asylees in the county. I am an Employment Specialist and focus on helping immigrants and refugees locate employment. Additionally, I am working on expanding a new program called Career Pathways, which is an additional service that guides any foreign-born individual towards achieving their professional career and educational goals. This program helps people that were professionals in their home country to practice in their field in the U.S.

On another note, I am involved with 1951 Coffee Company. On the weekends, I am working as a barista at a local cafe to gain experience. In the future, I hope to help the current team secure funding for a second location and open a branch in St. Louis.

Alumni Spotlight: Ariel Stenek (BAIS ’12)

arielSince graduating, I haven’t had a linear career path.  My only goal has been to travel and experience as much as I can of the world.

In my last semester at USF, I took Professor Juluri’s Davies Seminar on the book publishing industry, and this inspired me to move to New York City to take up an internship as the Publicity Assistant at powerHouse Books, a fine art and photography book publisher.  I did that for 8 months before I found out about available teaching positions in China.

Through Marshall University, I was placed in an international school in Shanghai as a 4th grade Language Arts, Science, Geography, and Art teacher.  On my weekends and holidays, I traveled Asia extensively, and by the end of the year, I had seen Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, The Philippines, Korea, and Malaysia.  Between school years I spent a month living in Istanbul.  Afterward, I took a job as a Language Arts/ESL tutor in Taipei. My time in Taipei allowed me to add Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau to my travels.

I moved back home to Honolulu last August to help my parents move their business.  I’ve been working in retail for the last year, and with Hawaii’s strong Asian tourist economy, my travels have allowed me to connect with many different clients.

In addition gaining a place in Queen Mary University of London’s postgraduate International Relations program, taught at the University of London Institute in Paris (big thanks to Professor McBride and Professor Corvaisier for their recommendations!), I also received a Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholarship to fund my studies.  Over the next year, I plan on focusing on security/peace studies and working with NGOs in Paris to help refugees and immigrants assimilate to their new communities.

Alumni Spotlight: Lauren AbuAli (BAIS ’15)

This week’s undergraduate alumni spotlight features Lauren AbuAli, who graduated in 2015.

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In September 2015, I started interning in the multimedia department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank in D.C., and I was hired on full-time in March 2016.

However, I actually left the organization in August 2016 to pursue a year-long fellowship in Germany called the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. The program is a public diplomacy initiative sponsored by the State Department and sends 75 Americans to Germany and 75 Germans to the U.S. We spent the first two months in language training. From there, we’re spending four months in university taking courses in our professional fields, and then we’ll spend five months doing an internship in a German-speaking work environment. It’s AWESOME – I love learning German!

Lauren is also one of our BAIS Alumni mentors. Contact the Department Office for more information about this program.

BAIS Alumni Spotlight: Shereen Kajouee (’13)

Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Fein (MAIS ’15)

On the day Jonathan Fein graduated from the MAIS program last December, he received a job offer from the International Rescue Committee to be a Citizenship and Financial Literacy specialist. In his position, he coordinates, manages and instructs future US citizens in preparation for their naturalization interview. Jonathan had interned with IRC last summer for the MAIS internship requirement, and they were eager to hire him back. While working for IRC, Jonathan has met and attended discussions with the Mayor of LA, Mayor of Glendale, and other leaders on topics of immigration and refugee resettlement in Southern California. Jonathan has recently been promoted to be the Citizenship and Financial Capability Coordinator, and he attributes his success at IRC-LA to the knowledge that he acquired while in the MAIS program, both in the classroom and working as a research assistant.

Over the last 7 months, Jonathan has participated in various refugee events and met SG Ban Ki Moon! He has also participated in the Los Angeles Asylum Collaborative as well as attend the LA Refugee Forum. Being one of two Spanish speakers in the office, Jonathan has been helping with the CAM-AOR program (Central American Minors Affidavit of Relationship program), working to resettle children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, who are fleeing the violence in the region and whose parents are here in the US.

Keep up the great work, Jonathan!

Alumni Spotlight: Erika Myszynski (BAIS ’12)

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Erika Myszynski (’12) at work

Working with Woods Bagot Architects has been an incredible experience. I crafted my own position as the Design Intelligence Coordinator to support our Global Design Director. My international studies education and experiences abroad have been paramount within a global firm, where I am expected to catch a pulse on our globally significant projects on any given day. Having an international knowledge-base has empowered me to drive a global firm forward and apply uncompromising design on an international scale. Each day I work with architects and design leads that contribute to cutting-edge development in five regions and that is stimulating!

MAIS ’15 Alum: Building Bridges on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Under the white-hot glare of the U.S.-Mexico border debate, Charlie Cutler MAIS ’15 is launching a new tennis and tutoring program for underserved kids in the cross-border town of Nogales, which straddles Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora.

Source: Building Bridges on the U.S.-Mexico Border

This program, the Border Youth Tennis Exchange (BYTE), is a non-profit that “provides athletic training and a specialized National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) educational curriculum to youth on both sides of the US/Mexico border.” Through this experience, BYTE works to “strengthen border communities and bridge social, economic, and political gaps” between the two countries. The organization, started by Charlie Cutler, is a glowing example of how students take the experiences from MAIS, both in and out of the classroom, and bring them into the world to make it a better place.

 

As written in a recent USF News article spotlighting BYTE, “USF’s international studies program offered interesting classes and the freedom to study issues such as Central American economic history, refugees, and U.S. asylum policy. Cutler also benefitted from the program’s numerous San Francisco connections that allowed him to meet leaders of organizations operating in countries around the world, see how nonprofits worked from the inside, and intern for a number of them — including coordinating an inmate tennis program and teaching college prep writing at San Quentin State Prison.”

We are proud to call Charlie Cutler a MAIS alum and encourage you to check out the following links to learn more about BYTE and how you can support this organization.

BYTE Website | USTA Article | USF article | BYTE Video