From June 1 – 5, 2020, APSIA welcomed 47 advisors from across the United States for the fourth annual Diversity Forum Advisor Workshop. This year’s events moved online to offer a look at engaging diverse students in the field of international affairs.

Advisors represented Asian American-Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Native American-serving Non-tribal Institutions, Predominantly White Institutions, and Tribal Colleges.

Monday, June 1 kicked the week off with a look at the many career opportunities within international affairs. Shamila Chaudry, President of the American Pakistan Foundation, hosted a conversation between alumni Santiago Bunce, Vice President of Evaluation and Learning at Catalyst Miami, and Danica Starks, Policy Team Director for the Office of Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration.

Each speaker had taken a very different path into the field. One initially thought they would head to law school, but saw how international affairs instead combined all of their interests. For another, it was the fulfillment of dream from high school. For another, it was an ambition initially diverted and then achieved. Despite the different ways in, panelists agreed on how much they enjoy their work and see its impact.

For a successful career in international affairs, all of the panelists recommended students develop writing skills, briefing and public speaking skills, cross-cultural adaptability, foreign language competencies, and the ability to effectively build partnerships.

They hoped advisors would challenge students to take the initiative and forge their own path.


On Tuesday, June 2, Frances Colón, CEO/President, Jasperi Consulting and former Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, and Harriet Elam-Thomas, Director of the Diplomacy Program at the University of Central Florida, talked about their experiences in public service and why more diverse voices are needed in international affairs.

“Front line communities are the most impacted by global issues – COVID, climate change, and more. This is why we need to be in global conversations – as a way to look out for our communities,” Dr. Colón said.

Ambassador Elam-Thomas agreed. She added “our challenges are not unique to us – underrepresented communities in other countries face the same things.” Amb. Elam Thomas felt she could be a more effective diplomat by reflecting her community and its experiences.


On Wednesday, Ariel Matos, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Kathryn Meyer, Director of Admissions and Recruitment for the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, and Michal Sela, Deputy Head of Student Services at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, shared their insights to help advisors best counsel their students about graduate school. Moderated by Kai Lockhart, APSIA’s Diversity and Inclusion Fellow and Assistant Academic Advisor at the University of Texas at Austin, the session offered questions advisors can pose to help students discern between programs. It walked through the application process and gave tips on crafting key elements like personal statements. Panelists also discussed the many ways students can pay for graduate school.


Thursday, June 4’s conversation between LaNitra Berger, Director of Fellowships for the George Mason University Honors College and Lily Lopez McGee, Director of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program focused on ways to make graduate school and critical experiences accessible and affordable. Moderated by Christine Parra, Academic Advisor at the Florida International Univ. Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, Dr. Berger and Dr. Lopez-McGee offered both practical tips for gathering information and emotional support to advisors as they seek to guide students toward important experiences.


The week concluded with a look at what APSIA is and how it can assist advisors. Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, APSIA’s Executive Director, and Briana Suarez, APSIA’s International Admissions and Operations Manager, shared APSIA’s events, resources, and many ways they help advisors bring international affairs content to their campuses.


Recordings of the week’s sessions can be found on APSIA’s YouTube page.


The 2020 Diversity Forum was made possible by












University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy