#WeAreElliott: Daria Howard

#WeAreElliott: Daria Howard

Daria Howard smiles, wearing a green short sleeve blouse with white pattern, in front of a background consisting of grass, trees, and soil.

Daria Howard is a second year Masters candidate in the Global Communication program at the Elliott School, concentrating on Public Diplomacy. She received her bachelor’s degree in international service, concentrating on Peace, Security, and Conflict Resolution, from American University in 2019. She then worked at the United Nations in the Department of Global Communication as Public Information Assistant until she began her graduate studies. This experience ignited a passion for her in international public affairs, communication, and media. She is currently the Program Coordinator for the Project for Media and National Security. For the 2022-2023 academic year, she is also the Editor-in-Chief for the International Affairs Review (Web Edition), the Elliott School’s graduate student-run international affairs publication. She is a current Presidential Management Fellows Finalist and looks forward to her career in public service. Daria enjoys art, history, and traveling.

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

I love learning, so applying to graduate school was always in my plans. However, what led me specifically to the Global Communication degree and the Elliott School is my work experience after graduating from my undergraduate program. I worked at the United Nations in the Department of Global Communication for two years and learned how critical issues are conveyed and received is critical to our ability to deal with those issues. Most importantly, I discovered the passion I had for this subject area. I learned about the Global Communication program at the Elliott School by doing research online. I was amazed by how much it aligned with what I was looking for in my graduate school education. The classes I have taken are a perfect combination of international affairs and media/communication. In addition to the class selection being exactly what I was looking for, I was also drawn to the Elliott School because I saw the many opportunities outside the classroom, such as student organizations and events. In addition, most classes are in the evening, which gives you plenty of time to engage in activities that will enhance your learning.

What has been your most challenging academic experience at the Elliott School and how did you overcome it?

Before starting my program, I had knowledge and experience in international affairs but only a little about media/communication from an academic perspective. Therefore, it has been a constant learning process to understand how the media and communications spheres work and understand new terms and theories in this subject area. My knowledge of Global Communication has significantly increased in these almost two years. I am amazed by how much I have learned about media and communications in my program. And what has made it all the more valuable is learning from Professors who are active and influential in this field. Sensing their passion has made the embarkation into this field all the more significant and exciting. Overall, I cannot say that it has been that challenging because I have loved every moment of this experience. I have also loved the opportunities to make connections between international affairs and media/communications.

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

I currently work as the Program Coordinator at the Project for Media and National Security, which is housed in the School of Media and Public Affairs. The Project convenes conversations with policymakers, journalists, researchers, and students, focusing on military, cyber, and other national security issues. This experience has been incredibly valuable to my learning and career goals because I have learned about the journalistic profession and the operation of the media sphere. I also get to be in the “thick” of current events because I know what is being said about some of the most pressing issues of our time directly from policymakers and actors who influence these issues. Additionally, it has given me significant experience in event organization and management. Lastly, I also work with the Project’s Director, Thom Shanker, who has been the ultimate source of support, knowledge, and mentorship. All this would not be possible if it were not for all the events, institutes, and activities that GW offers. All these skills I have gained align directly with my career goals of working in public affairs, communications, and international affairs.

Now that you’re a graduate student, what do you wish you knew during the graduate application process?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the complete picture of what the university has to offer, whether that be classes, faculty, partnerships, etc. I would emphasize course availability specifically because what you learn in the classroom will be the foundation of your graduate school experience. So, as you are filling out your application, take the time to browse through what classes are offered and required as part of your program. You do not have to set in stone which courses you will take, but it is beneficial to start thinking about what your academic journey may look like, even during the application process. In some cases, you may even view the syllabus for the class and decide if a class is a good fit for you or not. Once you have seriously thought about what classes are appealing to you, consider how you can supplement your classroom learning with opportunities outside of the classroom, whether volunteering or attending lectures at think tanks or non-profit organizations.

What has been your most valuable experience while studying at the Elliott School?

My most valuable experience has been interacting and learning with my fellow students. Sometimes we forget that in graduate school, we can learn not only from our professors but from other students as well. The Elliott School has impressive students with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. I have been so amazed and inspired by even just short conversations with other students. The interactions can also help you to find out about new interests, whether that be personal, academic, or career. They can help you to challenge your thoughts and opinions. They can help you to show you more efficient ways to study and do your work. Most importantly, they can lend you a hand when you need help or a shoulder for support. This has been especially true in my experience in my capstone class. My fellow group mates have been sources of laughs, inspiration, and support, which is crucial when taking on such a big and important project.

What is your favorite place to visit in D.C. and why?

My favorite place to visit in D.C. is the National Cathedral. I love history and architecture, and the

Cathedral brings both together. They have a beautiful, peaceful garden, a café where you can grab a

coffee or pastry, and of course, an observation deck where you can get stunning panoramic views of

D.C. The National Cathedral is so unique. Where else can you see a stained-glass window with a moon

rock in it or a Darth Vader grotesque? I never get tired of going to the National Cathedral.

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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.