Academics: Majors and Programs

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World Changers (continued)

Spelman international studies majors are always on the move, or planning one. Alicia Sheares,  a 2012 graduate, has traveled the world as an international studies major. During her tenure as a Spelman student, the Model U.N. team captain debated in The Hague, Netherlands, and in Taiwan. Plus, she interned at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and Rome, Italy.

Following her May graduation, Sheares was enrolled in the Summer Mentorship in Engaged Social Sciences where she spent  four weeks in South Africa and four weeks on the campus of UCLA writing a paper on migration and social justice issues in South Africa. “I am looking forward to my Fulbright fellowship to Brazil in the fall [2012], where I will work as an English teaching assistant to college students. It will allow me to research the idea of racial democracy, and I plan to obtain my Ph.D. in sociology and social policy,” she said.

Going Global

This embracing approach is typical of students in Spelman’s International Studies program. Since Spelman’s International Affairs Center was founded in 1989, it has hosted more than 250 international visitors and diplomats. The program’s alumnae have become Foreign Service officers, corporate executives, and international development consultants.

Class of 1964 alumna Jeanne T. Meadows, Ph.D., director of the International Affairs Center, also teaches international relations courses.

The center she directs has six main goals. To educate students to understand cultural differences, to gain perspective on how technology affects traditions and demographic change in non-Western societies, to apply an interdisciplinary approach to studies in a multilayered world, to show  the power of strong communication skills, to pursue fluency in a foreign language, and to recognize public, private and nonprofit career opportunities.

Scholarships and Fellowships

There are several scholarships and fellowships international affairs majors can apply for annually.  Two sponsor students interested in the Foreign Service, and awardees must fulfill a service obligation. The Thomas Pickering Fellowship offers tuition, room, board and fees during the junior and senior years, and funds a master’s degree in international studies. The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program at Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, run in cooperation with the State Department, provides money for tuition, room, and board and funding for graduate school in international studies. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides grants for U.S. undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. There are several other funding opportunities for students who are interested international studies.

Learning the Language of Diplomacy

Malikat Rufai, 20, plans to be fluent in two languages: French and diplomacy. A native of Chicago, the 2011 graduate has spent a semester studying in Rabat, Morocco, and was selected as a Pickering Fellow. Also, she will soon learn which graduate school of international relations she will attend. Rufai, who interned at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Council of Islamic Organization, is also studying for the U.S. Foreign Service exam. 

Also, Spelman graduates have lofty ambitions. Miata-Sunda Jones, 25, is a contract worker at the World Bank assisting the staff with the procurement process for goods and services. But she says, “my long-range plans are to go to graduate school. I want to get my master’s in public policy and maybe an MBA in international business.”

Sounds like another international plan.