From May 23-27, 2022, APSIA welcomed more than 40 advisors to the sixth annual 2022 Diversity Forum Spring Training Workshop for Advisors.

Monday, May 23 kicked the week off with Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, APSIA’s Executive Director (AU SIS Alumna), presenting a look at the many career opportunities in international affairs.

Later that day, Josh Diosomito, Senior Diversity Business Partner at the Capital Group (Syracuse Maxwell Alum) hosted a conversation between Elana Aquino, US Executive Director at Peace Direct (JHU SAIS Alumna), Mary Parrish, Foreign Agriculture Service Officer at the US Department of Agriculture (Georgetown SFS Alumna), and Halston Sleets, Senior DE&I Program Manager for YouTube (UMN HHH Alumna).

Each panelist described their calling to international affairs. Diosomito noted a common thread in the panelists’ pathways was a desire to serve others. One panelist attributed their background as a first-generation American to their inherent interest in foreign affairs. Another discussed how their undergraduate experience encouraged them to better understand representation in policy-making structures. Our last panelist described how the need to eat – and food – brings communities together. Panelists discussed how paying “attention to your intention” is significant to thinking about career paths. They shared that there are many ways to move ahead once some experience is gained, stressing that the most important question students should ask themselves when thinking about their path and purpose is “is this fulfilling to me?”

On Tuesday, May 24, advisors joined us for a moderated panel discussion on Challenging the Narrative of What ‘Counts’ and Empowering Students to Tell their Story. Moderated by Alice Yoohyun Kim, Career Services Director at the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, Kenny Rios, Campus Recruitment Team Lead at National  Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Patrick Freeman, Global Manager at Open Society Foundations (Pitt GSPIA Alum), focused on helping students describe transferable skills they may have gained. They stressed the importance of knowing how to translate students’ existing experience to overcome apprehension around not ticking all the boxes on an application. Speakers encouraged those with little formal work experience to talk about their student experience or experience outside of the classroom, stressing that the value in all experience lies in how it demonstrates ability, drive, and resilience. When asked what sort of skills they look for in candidates, panelists emphasized adaptability and collaborative problem solving as top of mind, sharing that experience gained in the service industry or as a caregiver exemplifies these coveted skills.

On Wednesday, May 25, Briana Suarez, International Admissions and Operations Manager at APSIA (GWU Elliott Alumna), offered best practices in selecting, applying to, and paying for graduate school. She also reflected on her graduate experiences and shared her pathway to international affairs.

Later on Wednesday, APSIA also hosted a panel of either admissions directors for a deeper dive on application components.

Jesús Hidalgo, Graduate Programs Advisor at the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and Beth Soboleski, Director of Recruiting and Admissions for the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, discussed Essays and Recommendations. Kathryn Meyer, Director of Admissions at Texas A&M University Bush School of Government & Public Service, and Daniel Birdsall, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Tufts University Fletcher School, discussed Financial Aid and Paying for School. Marina Bruce, Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of California, San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy, and Steven Petric, Director of Graduate Admissions at the  Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs, discussed the GRE, GPA, and Other Numbers. Melissa McGinnis, Assistant Director of Admission at  Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and Allyson Hill, Associate Dean of Admissions for the USC Annenberg Master of Public Diplomacy Program, discussed Discerning Between Post-Undergraduate Degree Programs.

Thursday, May 26’s open discussion was moderated by Tonija Hope Navas, Director at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center. This open conversation allowed Advisors to share examples of how they connect their students locally with international opportunities. Attendees shared examples such as service opportunities that allow students to support their local refugee center or local NGOs on social justice and sustainability. The conversation yielded insights into how engaging with local communities from international backgrounds and celebrating international students on campus are valuable –and local– ways to engage students in cultural exchange, build relationships, and gain the experiences that are often the most sought after in a study abroad program: those that occur outside of the classroom.

The second Thursday conversation between Bunmi Akinnusotu, Deputy Director of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program (Columbia SIPA Alumna), and Baltazar Hernández, Analyst at the US Government Accountability Office (Ford School Alumnus), focused on Helping Students Access Critical Experiences. Moderated by Sharon Swabb, Director of Career Services at the Robertson Foundation for Government (UCSD GPS Alumna), panelists talked about the challenges and rewards of leaving their comfort zone to pursue opportunities that opened their perspective to new career and educational prospects. Panelists also shared about their experiences navigating complex application processes and overcoming financial hurdles, suggesting resources that helped them to access experiential learning opportunities like study abroad and internships. Emphasizing the power of having a community of supporters and the value of mentorship, panelists also shared advice for how to leverage school resources and foster understanding and engagement in students’ families to make accessing critical experiences possible.

APSIA concluded the week with a look at what APSIA is and how the Diversity Forum assists advisors. Carmen Iezzi Mezzera and Briana Suarez shared APSIA’s events, resources, and many ways they help advisors bring public and international service-related content to their campuses.

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