#WeAreElliott: Puja Basnet

#WeAreElliott: Puja Basnet

Puja Basnet smiles. She is in a scenic waterfront location. surrounded by plants with several boats and a mountain in the background. Puja Basnet, M.A. International Affairs, 2023.

Puja Basnet is a second-year master’s student in the M.A. in International Affairs program with a Global Gender Policy concentration. She is also a Program Analyst at USDA and balances a full-time work and school schedule. Puja was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and speaks Nepalese. In 2021, Puja graduated from Sewanee with a B.A. in International and Global Studies and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is a Posse scholar and received a full-tuition leadership scholarship. During her final year of undergrad, Puja was a digital diplomacy intern for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and co-director of Sewanee’s women’s center. She hopes to use her Global Gender Policy concentration to work on rural development and women’s rights in South Asia.

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

I chose to pursue my graduate studies at the Elliott School because I wanted to join a program that would allow me to work and study full-time. At the Elliot School, I am able to balance everything by having flexible evening classes and events. There are also lots of opportunities to network and grow inside and outside of the classroom.

Higher education is also very important to me as it has not always been accessible or affordable for people in my community, especially women. My parents came to the U.S. so my siblings and I could have a higher education and access essential resources to excel in our chosen career paths. My mom really wanted to go to college and always stressed the importance of pursuing your education and so I value the opportunity even more.

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

I am currently a Program Analyst in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  I am passionate about developing effective programming that is inclusive and intersectional. I want to direct my own development initiatives and projects in South Asia that specifically focus on women’s rights, persons with disabilities, and rural communities.

What tools have proven most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School

GW Academic Advising has been a very helpful tool for me to stay on track with my program. Huge shoutout to my advisor Sarah Denes– I’ve bothered her so many times!

What advice do you have for students for staying motivated at work or in class?

My advice is to choose subjects you really care about and to have an end goal in mind. When the motivation fluctuates, having a strong “why” can help ground you and keep you going. When something isn’t working, reevaluate and try a different approach. Make sure you stay organized and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you take care of yourself and have days where you recharge.

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

One of my most memorable experiences while studying at the Elliott School was being invited to a student luncheon with Jenna Segal. I got to learn about her work as a producer and founder of Segal NYC, and she really inspired me to step up in my own career. I also appreciate the conversations with professors outside of the classroom and role models that have mentored me. As a first-generation master’s student, having opportunities to build my network and learn from professionals in my career field is very important to me.

What is one book you think everyone should read and why?

One book everyone should read is Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde because her story and her words are very powerful and relevant to the divisions we see in our world today.

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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.