#IncomingElliott: Hajrah Jalil

#IncomingElliott: Hajrah Jalil

Hajrah Jalil smiles, wearing a blue floral dress and stands in front of the student center at Loyola University Maryland. Hajrah Jalil, M.A. in International Development Studies, 2025, #IncomingElliott

Hajrah Jalil is a first-year master’s student in the International Development Studies program at the Elliott School, concentrating on humanitarian action and natural resources and the environment. She is also interested in climate change and sustainable development. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at Loyola University Maryland in 2023. During spring of 2022, she received the Gilman Scholarship and the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarships to study abroad in Dubai to learn about sustainable development. She is interested in amplifying the voices and concerns of communities in the Global South, especially Pakistan, that are displaced and impacted by climate change. She has interned with Environment America advancing the Clean Water: No Toxics on Tap Campaign. In this role, she advocated for the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to protect drinking water from toxic PFAS contamination. Hajrah enjoys traveling, exploring different cultures around the world, and learning languages.

What made you interested in your graduate program of choice?  

Since I just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, I was searching for a graduate program that was more concentrated in areas I was interested in. I was interested in the International Development Studies program because of the option to focus on the regions of Asia and the Middle East. I also liked the concentration options of humanitarian action and the environment and climate change. Since I am passionate about advocating for climate change policies, especially those relating to regions that are most affected by it, I found this program to be the best to support me in gaining experience and guidance in this field.

I also liked the support the graduate program provides through academic advisors, program directors, career coaches, and a program coordinator. Even though I still do not know exactly where I want to work, I feel like the internships and the capstone during this graduate program will allow me to gain experience in the field of international affairs.

What skills do you hope to pick up or further develop at the Elliott School? 

A skill I hope to further develop at the Elliott School is public speaking. I hope to be able to speak clearly and deliver my points concisely in an organized way. At the Elliott School, I also hope to further develop my leadership, teamwork, and management skills. I plan to take courses that will teach me how to problem solve and effectively make decisions with my teammates to develop my skills to address global challenges like climate change.

I also plan to pick up the skills of analyzing U.S. foreign assistance and U.S. foreign policy. The Elliott School’s specialized professional skills courses will teach me the role of Congress in determining U.S. foreign policy and the role of the U.S. Department of State in providing foreign assistance to other countries. This will be useful knowledge for me because I will use this knowledge and these skills to work at the U.S. Department of State to manage projects that aid communities affected by climate change.

If you could have anyone in the international affairs field serve as your personal mentor through grad school, who would you pick and why? 

I would love to have António Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, serve as my mentor through grad school. I would choose him because I can learn a lot from his experience in the United Nations managing a wide variety of issues and responding to global challenges. I would love his mentorship on what skills I should develop and what courses I should take to promote sustainable development, and to manage projects that address humanitarian crises around the world. I would also love his guidance on how to start my career in international affairs and in the United Nations to address the challenges climate change poses for vulnerable communities around the world. I could also use his mentorship to learn how to develop effective proposals and implement them. It would be insightful to have his mentorship putting foreign policy into practice and learning how the UN is impacted by the foreign policies of other countries.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program? 

I chose to commit to the Elliott School for my graduate program because of its prime location at the heart of Washington D.C. I think that the Elliott School being close to the State Department and other international organizations allows me to network and find ample internship opportunities. Through these connections and internships, I hope to start my career in international affairs.

Another reason I committed to the Elliott School is because the degree I am pursuing is very flexible to my interests and goals. Through the concentrations of the International Development Studies program, I can specialize in humanitarian assistance This specialization will allow me to learn more about the steps I can take to contribute to the work of addressing global challenges.

I also committed to the Elliott School because of the connections I will make with international organizations and government agencies through the capstone. I will learn a lot from contributing to the work of leading international and national organizations. I will gain hands on experience that will be beneficial as I find employment opportunities during and after grad school.

What is one book that everyone should read and why? 

One book I would recommend everyone read is The Intersectional Environmentalist by Leah Thomas. An issue of international importance I wish to address in my professional career is climate change. The countries in the Global South are being hard hit by the natural disasters that are exasperated by climate change leading to displacement. I feel this book does an amazing job highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis and how it disproportionately displaces people in the Global South. Leah Thomas highlights the intersection of environmental justice, privilege, and racism. She highlights the point that people of color and indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices. She calls on us to amplify the voices and concerns of communities around the world that are normally overlooked. I connect with this book because I also want to amplify the voices of communities in Pakistan and the Middle East that are dealing with environmental injustices.

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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective 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.