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Building My Network in the Heart of Europe

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Natalie Smith
MAIR '21

Natalie was encouraged to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS to advance her career working in the anti-human trafficking field. She believed the school would provide her with important insights on the driving factors behind human trafficking and how they can be addressed in a data-informed way, as the lack of comprehensive, actionable data has been a common criticism in the field.
After spending her first year studying at SAIS Europe in Italy, Natalie was scheduled to spend her final year of study in Washington DC. However, the school’s main campus suspended in-person classes for the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she opted to continue her studies in Bologna. Natalie was grateful for the opportunity to take in-person classes  at SAIS Europe as well as online classes through the Washington DC campus. You can read more about her experience through a recent article that was published in The Washington Post, where our Johns Hopkins SAIS students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to study at SAIS Europe and attend in-person classes during COVID-19.  
Outside of class, Natalie is the president of the European chapter of the Johns Hopkins SAIS’ International Law Society; serves as an Assistant Editor for the SAIS Review; and works in research and strategy for an international anti-trafficking NGO. She is also the recipient of the Dean’s Merit Scholarship and a multi-year recipient of the Taco Bell Foundation's "Live Más" scholarship, which she received for her passion to contribute to data-driven solutions aimed at resolving the crisis of modern-day slavery.  
One of Natalie’s favorite memories during her studies in Bologna was attending the Vienna Ball of Sciences in January 2020. It was really special to spend a storybook evening with almost her entire cohort outside of her normal academic environment. The SAIS Europe campus is generally known for its strong community and camaraderie, and the Ball really exemplified that. 
She also really enjoyed participating in the UN Career Trek to Geneva in November 2019, where she had the opportunity to learn from and network with the school’s alumni working in various UN agencies. As an International Law and Organizations concentrator, this was an invaluable opportunity for Natalie to connect what she had learned in the classroom with the insights and experiences of current practitioners. 
In terms of what Natalie hopes to do after completing her degree - being at Johns Hopkins SAIS has led her to discover how many subfields of international development can be incorporated into the fight against human trafficking, and she has developed a growing interest in working in labor market integration, migration policy, and other relevant development areas. Ultimately, she hopes to use her degree to support inclusive, sustainable development and (directly or indirectly) advocate for victims of labor, sexual, and other forms of exploitation around the globe. 

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