#ElliottProud: Jenna Heavner

#ElliottProud: Jenna Heavner

Jenna Heavner headshot, Jenna Heavner, M.A. in Middle East Studies, 2023, #ElliottProud

Jenna Heavner graduated from the Elliott School in 2023 with her M.A. in Middle East Studies. She currently works at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on their Egypt and Iraq portfolios. Prior to this, Jenna worked for the Institute of Defense & Business in North Carolina. She also interned twice in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State where she contributed to their press and public diplomacy work. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Middle East Studies and Peace, War, and Defense with a minor in Arabic Language. Jenna speaks Arabic and has studied in Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, and the West Bank.

What has been your favorite experience at the Elliott School so far and why?

My favorite experience was the end of orientation when we had cookies and food on the rooftop of the Elliot School. Everyone was so excited to be back in-person after a long period of isolation and the weather couldn’t have been prettier with a beautiful view of D.C. in the background.

What courses have you found most helpful in your work or intern experiences and how have they been useful?

Dr. Diane Forbes Berthoud’s Leadership and Teamwork class benefited my professional and academic life immensely because it taught practical leadership skills with a focus on emotional and cultural intelligence.  What sticks out to me the most is her “non-debate” exercise. In this exercise you had to listen to someone’s point of view on a controversial topic. Then you had to summarize their thoughts and repeat it back to them, without arguing or fighting back. This exercise stuck with me and it helps me to actively listen to my colleagues at work and in the classroom.

Describe the pros and cons of being a full-time versus a part-time student at the Elliott School.

The biggest pro of being a full-time student is the access to funding and opportunities – my favorite is definitely the GWU U Pass!

What resources or strategies have proven to be the most valuable in helping you reach success at the Elliott School?

Career Services is the best resource this school has to offer. The staff at career services have reviewed so many of my resumes and cover letters in excruciating detail. I am certain they are to credit for my success in becoming a Presidential Management Fellow among many other opportunities they prepared me for.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are comparing a graduate program at the Elliott School with other D.C. graduate schools?

The Elliot School is ideal for students who want to gain professional experience while getting your graduate degree. Because most Elliot School classes are in the evening, students have the daylight hours to work, intern, network, and attend all kinds of think tank events and career fairs during the day. Also, Elliott School professors value work experience and often bring that into the classroom with guest speakers, industry connections, and assignments that are immediately applicable to work.

What is the last show or movie that you really enjoyed and why?

Season one of Prime Suspect because Helen Mirren plays a powerful female detective.

Want to connect with current Elliott School students and alumni? Click here to see how!

Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!

Join us for an information session, RSVP here!

Click here to apply to the Elliott School!

Twitter · Facebook · Instagram

The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.