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.


Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Masoud (BAIS ’14)


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: Lauren AbuAli (BAIS ’15)

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


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.

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)

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!

Alumni Spotlight: Adanma Osakwe, MAIS ’11

Adanma Osakwe is a 2011 graduate from the Master of Arts in International Studies program. As a Nigerian-American growing up in Switzerland and attending high school at the International School of Geneva and college at the University of Massachusetts, Adanma brought a unique perspective to the classroom. Here’s a snapshot of where she’s taken her MAIS degree:

“During my time at MAIS, I completed several internships that significantly enhanced my work in the classroom. Those internships include: the San Francisco Human Rights Commission working in discrimination investigations to support fairness in housing and employment; the United States Trademark and Patent Office where I worked in the Office of the Chief Economist assembling cost-benefit analysis on copyright term extensions for the USA and Asia-Pacific; the Whitaker Group, a ThinkTank with a focus on US Foreign Investment in Africa and the impact of the African Growth and Opportunity Act; and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in Geneva where I worked on the impact of a growing Chinese presence on sustainable development and multilateral trade in Africa. My time at ICTSD supported my MAIS Dissertation project The New Scramble for Africa and Chinese engagements in the Niger Delta. Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight: Adanma Osakwe, MAIS ’11”

Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Hartz, MAIS ’10

I began my career in finance and banking before finally listening to the voice in my head imploring me to look for something more. As I was finishing a two year stint in Peace Corps Ghana I knew that a graduate degree was the next step in my career transition. One of the difficulties I faced was deciding which type of degree to seek and where. I discovered that USF was inaugurating a MAIS program and, fortunately for me, I was accepted into the first cohort.

Visiting artisan workshop in Mozambique
Dan at an artisan workshop in Mozambique.

Were it not for the individual, close relationships that MAIS faculty fostered with each of us students I’m not sure where I would be right now. As it happened, one professor introduced me to a USF graduate who founded a small investment firm that at the time was working on a unique agriculture investment in Ghana. It was a perfect fit and my internship with Golden Mean Capital Partners (GMCP) began almost immediately. The MAIS coursework helped me bring a different perspective to a GMCP team that was made up exclusively of finance professionals. In turn, the work we undertook in Ghana informed and shaped my graduate thesis: Integrating Venture & Philanthropic Capital in sub-Saharan Africa’s Agriculture Sector.

My MAIS internship, which became a full-time job after graduation, has taken me back to Ghana several times as well as Zambia, Mozambique, Mauritius and South Africa. For the past two and a half years I have been working with the Sustainable Cotton Cluster in South Africa to help provide unique financial solutions for revitalizing the country’s cotton sector. I also helped to found and grow the African Diaspora Network, a non-profit dedicated to furthering economic and social development across the continent.

Inspecting artisanal products in Mozambique
Inspecting artisanal products in Mozambique.

I think it says a lot about USF that both of the ventures I am involved in – each focused on inclusive growth and positive social impact – were founded by and include multiple team members that are graduates. I believe there is a shared sense that together we can do more. And it all began at USF.

Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Shaffer, MAIS ’12

“…the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way.”

Shortly after graduating from MAIS, I started working for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), a San Francisco based nonprofit that provides legal training and advocacy for immigrant rights. My position there required extensive writing and editing, as well as managing fundraising events. At the ILRC I quickly realized how lucky I was to have received such excellent training in writing and research from MAIS faculty. Their feedback helped to hone my writing skills, and my boss later told me that my ability to write succinctly and persuasively helped me land the job. Additionally, keeping on top of the research that led up to my final thesis helped prepare me for managing events at the ILRC, developing my competence in handling competing priorities and rigid deadlines.

Now, as a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, I am so grateful for the classes I took at USF and the continued mentorship of MAIS faculty. Dr. Kaiser was incredibly helpful in selecting and completing a final thesis project, even after my original plan imploded a few weeks into fieldwork. The research I did for my MAIS thesis on LGBTQ rights in Argentina helped lay a lot of the groundwork for my dissertation, which looks at changes in LGBTQ spaces in San Francisco. Even more importantly, the study habits I learned from MAIS faculty, the research skills I learned from seminars, the knowledge I gained from course readings, and the friendships I made with other students and staff have helped me at every step of the way. I couldn’t have known where I would end up while I was still in MAIS, but the experiences I had at USF have served me well in a wide variety of environments.

Continue reading “Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Shaffer, MAIS ’12”

Alumni Spotlight: Kate Armstrong ’14

…my BAIS thesis challenged me to consider collaborative approaches to current public health systems.

I am Kate Armstrong, a proud Alumni of the International Studies Department at the University of San Francisco! As a pre-medical student, I have been taught how to understand the tools needed to diagnose, and hopefully, cure the disease. But I want to do more than cure the disease, I want to prevent it. Based on this passion, I made the decision to not only learn what is going on inside the body, but to become globally aware of the many possibilities that may cause a person to suffer. That same decision resulted in me switching my major to International Studies, which has lead me to some incredible opportunities in post-grad life.

Kate Armstrong
Recently, I have been accepted into a fellowship program through an amazing organization, Mama Hope. Mama Hope is a nonprofit that trains impact entrepreneurs from around the world and partners them with visionary leaders in developing countries. Together, they fund and build community-identified sustainable projects using local resources that help lift communities out of poverty. The knowledge I gained from required BAIS courses lead me to seek out organizations as sustainable and considerate as Mama Hope. For instance, my BAIS thesis challenged me to consider collaborative approaches to current public health systems. This holistic perspective was why I have been given the responsibility to create a public health and sexual education curriculum for one of Mama Hope’s partners, Flying Kites School and Orphanage. I am finally getting the chance to not only cure, but prevent future suffering.

Thank you USF, and most definitely, the BAIS team! I am grateful for the knowledge I have gained while on my way to impacting real change in communities and beyond.


(Compelled by Kate’s journey? Consider supporting her work by clicking here!)