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Alumni Edition: Four Recent SAIS Grads Share Their Experience

Students taking a group photo in front of the capital.

Four recent grads share their insight and fondest memories from their time at SAIS.

Avi KirpekarName: Avi Kirpekar
Degree: Master of Arts in International Relations
Current Role: Global Intelligence Analyst, The World Bank

What led you to SAIS?

First, the opportunity to study abroad in Bologna at SAIS Europe was extremely enticing. It is very important for students of IR [international relations] to have international experience, so SAIS Europe was an incredible asset.

Second, the SAIS alumni network is one of, if not the, largest in D.C. and around the world — in almost every sector or field you can think of. The SAIS mafia, as the alumni network is endearingly called, is really willing to speak to current students. This is invaluable, both as a student and job-seeker.

Third, the diversity and depth of professors’ expertise drew me to SAIS. Having exposure to issues outside of my focus areas allowed me to have a more holistic perspective, which I found to be incredibly beneficial.

At SAIS, I learned to love the richness, complexity, and diversity of the human experience.

Michael MoatesName: Michael Moates
Degree: Master of Arts in International Relations
Current Role: Producer and Director of Documentaries and Branded Content, Early Light Media

What was one of the things you learned during your time at SAIS that transformed your way of thinking?

How unresolved or how up-for-debate so many of the big questions about the way the world works are. I constantly bounced between feeling like, “Oh, I get it, this is easy, this is how we solve this” and, “Wow there are an infinite number of considerations here. I don't know how any of us are going to solve this.” At SAIS, I learned to love the richness, complexity, and diversity of the human experience. 

What was your favorite SAIS experience?

Academically, it was all the classes I had with practitioners. SAIS has an amazing balance of purely academic professors and working professionals. Their styles are different and offer a really well-rounded education.

Socially, I wish I could capture how interesting and diverse everyone is. I was at a party once talking to a group of people with such a range and wealth of experiences that it was surreal. I’m generalizing, but there was one person who was 30-year-old veteran of Afghanistan discussing the region’s complexities, another was fluent in four languages and worked for the Peace Corps in Morocco, and another was a former engineer who spent years building healthcare facilities all over Latin America.

Marlen Avelar GomezName: Marlen Avelar Gomez
Degree: Master of Arts in International Relations
Current Role: Special Assistant, USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance

Why did you choose SAIS?

I was impressed with the program's flexibility, community, and the curriculum’s reputation. As I connected with SAIS alumni to talk about their experience, I noticed two common themes among everyone’s experience: (1) The SAIS community’s values supporting the next group of rising leaders; and (2) SAIS’ commitment to each student’s success.

What was your favorite SAIS experience?

Having the opportunity to attend so many events on campus with international practitioners and leading foreign policy experts. This enriches the student experience exponentially. Where else could you engage so directly with global leaders every day of the week?

Miloš MilivojevićName: Miloš Milivojević
Degree: Master of Arts in International Relations
Current Role: Consultant, The World Bank

Why did you choose SAIS?

SAIS is one of the best international relations programs in the world. The focus on practical work paired, the strong economics curriculum, and the ability to study on two continents made SAIS stand out to the point that I didn’t even apply to other schools.

What was your favorite SAIS experience?

It is tough to pick only one experience, as these two years were incredibly enriching! Above all, the people I've had the privilege to meet and become friends have been the highlight. Being surrounded by such bright, motivated individuals not only made studying enjoyable but also pushed me to grow. I've gained insights about the world and international relations from them as much as from my coursework.

Additionally, studying international relations in Washington, D.C. is second to none. The access to people that you have here is unprecedented, so during the academic year I found myself interacting with diplomats, having dinner with a former Congressman, and discussing the global economy and finance with the senior executives of financial institutions that came to one of my classes. This was an incredible experience overall.
If you are looking to learn more about what it's like to be a current student at Johns Hopkins SAIS, we encourage you to schedule a virtual appointment with one of our Admissions Fellows.

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