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.

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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”

Current MAIS Student Jose Zacarias Blogs During his Immersion Trip to Puebla

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F15 MAIS student Jose Zacarias is spending his spring break on an immersion trip to Puebla, Mexico. Follow his adventures and insights on his blog – https://nwlsite.wordpress.com. Here is an excerpt:

Preparing for Puebla

While reading and studying the global economy produces fascinating discoveries nothing can compare to being immersed in a Country’s culture and economy. Saturday I will be traveling to Puebla, Mexico, and while I’m excited for the hopes of visiting Cholula, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Mexico, and feasting on Mole Pueblano on my first visit ever, the majority of my excitement comes from visiting a place that is today known as a transit site for Central American migrants making their treacherous way to the U.S. – Mexico border. Interestingly enough, Puebla is also rapidly becoming a hot spot for multinational corporations, like Audi (Coincidence?).

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UPDATE: Click here to listen to an interview conducted on Ibero Radio station about his experience in Puebla.

Student Spotlight: Meron Semedar, MAIS

…I know already my education at MAIS is playing a crucial role in growing and impacting more lives.

Meron Semedar speaking on country condition at the 11th United Nations Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Meron at the 11th United Nations Youth Assembly in New York – United Nations Headquarters.

My experience as a Master of Arts in International Studies student at the University of San Francisco by Meron Semedar

Having done significant advocacy work in a number of areas including human rights, refugee, migration, and youth empowerment, among others, I was actively seeking to find a program that would broaden my knowledge in these areas and expand my knowledge around world issues. After searching, I came across the Masters of Art in International Studies (MAIS) program at the University of San Francisco. An interdisciplinary program that was the closest to perfection that I could find. What I also appreciated about the program was that they are not just fixated on GPA but they take a holistic approach by also considering a lot of other criteria such as your involvement with organizations, articles you published, awards, speeches you gave, traveling experiences, places you lived among other societies, and even your outside interests (mine was running marathons for a cause). This made me even appreciate the program more because we all know students are more than merely an academic GPA. This also allows for an entering class that is comprised of students from a broad range of different backgrounds.

Continue reading “Student Spotlight: Meron Semedar, MAIS”

A Degree in International Studies from USF Provides the Skills Employers Want

by Dana Zartner, Chair, International Studies Department

“[L]iberal arts training – with its emphasis on creativity and critical thinking – is vital to … success ….” –Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company

A degree in international studies, whether through our Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS) major for undergraduates or our Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program for graduate students, provides engaged world citizens with a new way of approaching global issues. Rather than through the lens of a single discipline like politics, sociology, anthropology, history, or economics, our interdisciplinary International Studies programs encourage students to explore their interests through the lenses of all these fields. Students learn to consider a variety of different theories, methodologies, and ideas that break down traditional disciplinary barriers. The interdisciplinary nature of our programs, coupled with the grounding in a liberal arts education, provides our students with critical thinking and analysis skills as well as extensive intercultural communication experience. Combined, these factors provide a bigger “toolbox” for students when it comes to life after graduation and is desirable for employers ranging from NGOs and advocacy groups, to government agencies and private corporations.

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There has been a great deal of discussion in the past few years about the benefit of a liberal arts education like that you can receive in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in International Studies at USF. Consistently, however, employers across a wide range of fields have come out in favor of the knowledge and skills students develop through the kind of critical, global, interdisciplinary programs we offer through our department. Even in fields like high tech, which is prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, CEOs consistently support liberal arts education (in fact one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees!). A 2013 survey of over 300 employers by the American Association of Colleges and University found the following:

  • 93% of all employers surveyed cited a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems with both short- and long- term approaches as the most important abilities they look for in new hires.
  • 95% of employers surveyed say that it is important that their new hires possess ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • Collaborative problem-solving skills, internships, and community engagement were also strongly preferred by employers surveyed.

Each one of these skills and opportunities mentioned is something that we support and fully integrate into our Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. For our Master’s students, an internship requirement and a mixed-methods research class provide experience and tools that employers value. In the undergraduate program, study abroad programs (over 100 of which have internships included), our problem-centered research methods class, and opportunities such as serving as a Peer Advisor or working on the International Affairs Review offer opportunities to hone skills and integrate them with academic knowledge. The Department also offers numerous opportunities for all of our students to develop the breadth of their knowledge and the depth of their marketable skills, including workshops on resumes, applying to graduate school, vicarious trauma, developing expertise, and (coming soon!) grant writing and advocacy development.

Upon graduation, our students are desirable in a wide variety of fields. We currently have undergraduate and graduate alumni working in a diverse array of locations, including: Amnesty International, Apple, U.S. Department of State, Twitter, UNICEF, Youtube, United Nations Mine Action Service, NASA, International Rescue Committee, Special Olympics, Mama Hope, Spanish Ministry of Education, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fair Trade USA, Bulgarian Fulbright Commission, Morgan Stanley, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. We also have alumni all over the world, creating a network of ISatUSF alumni who remain committed to our programs and our students. Get started on your future with us!