#WeAreElliott: Celina Pouchet

#WeAreElliott: Celina Pouchet

Celina Pouchet, M.A. Security POlicy Studies, 2023, #WeAreElliott
Celina Pouchet is a second-year Master’s candidate in the Security Policy Studies program at the Elliott School, concentrating in U.S. National Security and transnational non-state actors. Prior to graduate school, Celina worked in local politics and the timeshare industry during her undergraduate studies in Orlando, Florida. She received her B.A. in Political Science concentrating in American politics and policy, with a minor in terrorism and national security studies from the University of Central Florida (UCF). She was a scholar in the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (ICCAE) while attending UCF. Celina just completed the Joseph S. Nye. Jr. National Security Internship at the Center for a New American Security in their Military, Veterans, and Society Program where she delved into research on personnel policy issues within the military and veteran community. She looks forward to expanding her professional and research experience as she continues her graduate studies at the Elliott School.

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

I graduated in Spring 2019 and had decided to take a break before researching which graduate program to apply to. I knew I wanted to attend a school in DC, so I ended up applying to a few M.A. programs, one of which was at the Elliott School. I ultimately chose the Elliott School over attending the other programs because I felt I fit in more with the community culture and I really valued the more holistic approach to national security than what my research told me of the other programs. The Elliott School M.A. programs provides a lot of variation for students to make their courses what they want. I especially liked the concerted effort to provide aid to students outside the DC beltway to bring in students with different backgrounds and experiences. I have met brilliant and passionate instructors at the Elliott School that I hope to stay in touch with long after I have graduated!

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

This is a hard question because I have a few! As I have just wrapped up my first year as a grad student, if I had the pick one, I would say the course I took concerning International Relations in Africa, taught by Janette Yarwood. I loved this course because of how Professor Yarwood approached the subject matter. She covered material as assigned but would pull from her professional and academic experiences to provide more comprehensive information to past and current African affairs. It was an enlightening course, made all the more enlightening by the Instructor and my fellow classmates who would bring their own knowledge and insights to discussions.

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

I am currently finishing an internship with the Center for a New American Security in their Military, Veterans, and Society Program. I applied for the internship to gain research and professional experience in the think tank world, but more importantly, I took the internship to broaden my understanding of subject matter I was not previously familiar with. My career goals have ebbed and flowed, which I think is not discussed enough in the foreign affairs field. I think it is important for current and future foreign affairs professionals to understand that variety and specialty are both equally valuable over the course of a career. The senior leadership I have become acquainted with at CNAS have had largely eclectic professional and academic experiences that have led them to where they are now. The most important things are to be open to change and adaptation to your environment and take something with you from one position to another.

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

I would advise to myself that working full-time and going to grad school full-time can absolutely be done; however, the stress, anxiety, and fatigue have nothing to do with your capability or intelligence. It is just the nature of it, and you must weigh what you believe to be worth your time and energy to invest in for your career goals. There is no wrong answer, despite what you may hear from the people around you. It is your path, and you alone determine what you can and cannot afford to do.

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

Take advantage of being at an institution with world class experts on almost everything. Do not be afraid to reach out to a professional, regardless of if they are related to your program of choice or not. Most everyone is willing to give time to curious students on their subject area.

What three albums should everybody listen to and why?

I’m a huge music lover so I love this question! Three albums I’ve been re-listening to a lot lately are as follows:

  1. Tv on the Radio – Seeds | For Sad and Uplifting
  2. Run the Jewel – 4th album | Social Commentary
  3. Soundgarden – Superunknown | Portal to the 90s Grunge Era

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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.