#WeAreElliott: Betsy Goldemen

#WeAreElliott: Betsy Goldemen

Betsy Goldemen, M.A. International Affairs, 2022, #WeAreElliott

Betsy Goldemen is pursuing a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a concentration in Technology and International Affairs. She is pursuing her graduate studies as a Wolcott Foundation fellow and will graduate in August 2022. Betsy graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary in 2014 with a B.A. in Government and Chinese Language and Literature. She studied as a U.S. Department of State Boren and Critical Language Scholar in China. Betsy’s professional experience includes work as a communications and management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton for federal clients including the National Science Foundation, Defense Health Agency, and Department of Commerce, and as a research assistant at an international development finance research institute called AidData. She is currently an International Program Specialist in NASA’s Office of International and Interagency Relations, in which capacity she leads agency policy and engagement with Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China and supports the international work of the Heliophysics Division. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese.

What path led you to apply to graduate school? Why did you pick the Elliott School?

I applied to graduate school because, after gaining several years of work experience, I wanted to gain additional professional skills to benefit my growth potential. The Elliott School was my top choice program for a number of reasons. I liked the fact that the Elliott School curriculum incorporated a focus on professional skills that I could apply right away to my career in International Affairs. I also appreciated that the curriculum would allow me to broaden as well as deepen my knowledge in the intersection of technology and international affairs. I also thought that it would be beneficial to have the opportunity to take classes with a mixture of practitioners and academics. As a student who planned to work full-time throughout my studies, it was vital for the program to take place in the evening. The Elliott School met all of my criteria in terms of its name recognition throughout the city, the composition and quality of the program, and providing the opportunity to increase job-related skills and knowledge without pausing my career.

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

My favorite course at the Elliot School has been the skills course in Negotiation because it changed my perspective in a way that was immediately beneficial to me and it was also a lot of fun. The content of the course was fascinating to me because of its interdisciplinary nature, incorporating elements of psychology, business, and communications. It was also extremely interactive and hands-on because the curriculum was based on case studies; this aligned well with my learning style because I learn best by doing. The final project for the class involved a simulated negotiation over a real issue in international affairs. I applied the skills I learned from the class immediately both to my job and my personal life. The interest-based negotiation style I was taught in the course helped me develop partnerships more effectively at work and reach better outcomes in negotiations.

Where do you currently work and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I currently work in the Office of International and Interagency Relations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Working at NASA fits in with my career goals because I am driven by the desire to make a positive impact in the world, and NASA has a mission that I believe in. NASA’s work fits in with my values because I feel I support a mission that uses science and technology to benefit society. I get a chance to work with a large variety of international partners at NASA, which supports my career and personal goal to broaden my global perspective. I also get to focus specifically on partnerships and policy in Asia, which is a region of particular interest to me because it contains relationships that I feel are of great impact to the U.S. In my future career, I hope to continue to support the development of cutting-edge science and technology, the use of open data to benefit society, and to work in issues of global impact.

Think of where you were (in life, school, career) when you applied to the Elliott School. What advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now, as a student?

Although I knew that pursuing a degree while continuing to work full-time would be a heavy lift, I was confident that it would help me round out knowledge and competencies I wanted to gain or solidify to advance in my future career. Ultimately, I am glad that I did not delay the decision to go back to school because as soon as I set foot in a classroom I remembered how fun it is to be a student: it allowed me to focus on my own development and pursue my own interests with a freedom that the workplace does not necessarily emphasize. The advice I would give myself knowing what I know now as a student is to soak in every opportunity to learn from your peers and to keep an open mind to discovering new interests. For example, for a Data Analytics for International Affairs Professionals class, although my area of regional expertise is in Asia, I ended up taking a chance by following my interest to join a group project that focused primarily on development in Africa. In doing so, I had the opportunity to work with three classmates from Africa who had knowledge and perspective that benefitted me greatly. Having the chance to gain exposure to a topic with which I was not deeply familiar and to classmates coming from areas of the world that I had never visited or studied with great depth became one of the highlights of my Elliott School experience.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far at the Elliott School?

The most valuable thing I have learned so far at the Elliott School is leadership skills like delegation, giving and receiving feedback, and team management through the Global Capstone project. Working with my Capstone project group to define a research topic, make decisions about how to collect research, agree on our thesis and policy recommendations, divide work responsibilities, and meet deadlines all while splitting our time with work commitments led to a great deal of personal growth.

What is your favorite place in DC to enjoy reading a book?

As a runner and rower, my favorite place in the DC area is the Anacostia River and the trails alongside it. The proximity of water makes DC a very livable place from my perspective because I crave both the convenience of cities as well as the ability to explore nature in my daily life. I also appreciate the green spaces throughout the city, for example Providence Park, which is close to my apartment, as well as the public spaces outside the Library of Congress to read a book on a nice day.

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The #WeAreElliott 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.