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An Incoming Graduate Gives Invaluable Advice to Prospective Students

Rohail Profile Image

Rohail Khan
Master of Arts in International Relations

What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 
Since my youth, I’ve always wanted to pursue a calling that promoted the betterment of humanity. As such, I knew that I needed to pursue higher education, particularly in international development, to better understand the world. This prompted me to begin researching graduate schools in a field that pertained to both my career aspirations and personal interests.

SAIS seemed like the perfect fit for several reasons. First, it provided the opportunity to explore the rich professional network of Washington DC. Secondly, the school offered a diverse range of classes and the right balance of both quantitative and qualitative courses to enrich my understanding of various areas such as international economics and international relations. Third, I wanted to maximize who I could become in the future, and I believed I could achieve this as a student at SAIS.

After my initial search, I reached out to a few of the school’s alumni for guidance regarding how I could shape my future professional character at SAIS. Those conversations were helpful and instilled great confidence and desire within me to aim for new heights. Thus, I applied for SAIS and the rest was history.

What were you doing before attending the school? 
I was studying my undergraduate degree at Lehigh university, where I majored in Economics and Political Science, along with a minor in Spanish. In addition, I also spent time working in diverse fields to strengthen my professional experience, such as marketing, research, and activism. Overall, my love for learning pushed me to pursue further education immediately after graduation.

What program are you in and what do you hope to gain from it?
My program was International Development (IDEV) with a concentration in Social Policy. I chose this program because I wanted to understand the challenges developing nations face in their quest to catch up with developed nations. As such, this program appealed to me since it provided different perspectives to understanding the economics, history, and politics that define growth and development.

Moreover, I hoped to learn about the best policies that if implemented, could give the maximum benefit to the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the developing world. As such, I hoped to gain skills that could help me become a policymaker that respects the agency of those in need. Likewise, some of my favorite classes were in the areas of humanitarian aid and public health. Lastly, I also chose this program since it offered a chance to apply these skills through its capstone practicum project.

Tell us about your favorite memory at the school. 
My favorite memory at SAIS is my trip to Costa Rica. The trip’s purpose was to conduct field research for my IDEV practicum capstone project, which examined ways to reduce illegal, underreported, and unregulated fishing in Latin America. This research was meaningful because my client was the U.S. State Department, hence it was like serving my country. Likewise, it was meaningful to know that my research helped inform current policy and address challenges in developing nations.

In addition, I enjoyed meeting with top experts in the field. Those discussions provided me with a better understanding of how policy is determined in real-time. Moreover, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with fantastic nature, scenery, and wildlife. In my free time, I enjoyed hiking in their jungles, riding horses, and ziplining over great heights. Finally, I also enjoyed using my Spanish-language skills to speak to new people and learn about new cultures. It was certainly the highlight of my time at SAIS.
Tell us about your work with the Communications Department.
I am proud to have worked at the Marketing/Communications department for my whole duration at SAIS. I was involved in a range of activities, including write-ups for high-level events, as well as strategizing ways to increase student engagement in the digital sphere. I also contributed to producing multimedia assignments such as the school’s Year-in-Review, marketing-related videos, interactive posts, and research aimed at growing the school’s social media channels.

However, the most enjoyable activity I participated in were these student stories! Through these stories I was able to better learn about the wonderful and complex humans that attend this university. From every continent, every background, and every kind of academic discipline, I was able to interact with, learn about, and make lasting friendships through the student stories project.

What advice would you give to prospective students? 
I would advise prospective students to go outside your comfort zone to take classes in different areas. This will help give you not only a richer understanding of how our world works, but also help you grow and develop as a person. In tandem, I recommend taking advantage of SAIS’ large and diverse alumni network, student body, and professional personnel. Ask questions and connect with people, everyone at the school is looking to help you succeed. Finally, I would remind students that this degree is but one part of your own story and journey, be sure to take the time to explore Washington D.C., make lasting friendships, and focus on making yourself a kinder, more tolerant, and more holistic individual.

What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate?
I hope to work in a field that helps drive policy to improve the well-being of nations or vulnerable populations. Likewise, I may continue my experiences to work with more international development agencies. However, I am flexible and therefore will go wherever the wind takes me. What’s more important, is that I know I have the skills to survive thanks to my experiences at SAIS.

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