IA Alumni Panel

IA Alumni Panel

Professional Development

4 November 2020

Four former IA Scholars joined us virtually for a panel discussion on the evening of November the 4th. Panelists included Sam Harris (class of 2019), Alex Northrop (class of 2018), Brandon Hofacker (class of 2017), and Courtney Johnson (class of 2019). These four alumni, while having shared interests and some shared experiences, went on to pursue a diverse array of professional opportunities.

Sam Harris spoke on her experience as a Harvard Law student and the law school application process. Alex Northrop reflected on his time in IA, and how his experiences at OSU prepared him for applying to and attending Columbia Medical School. Brandon Hofacker works for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in Washington DC. He began his position virtually, and spoke on the challenges of starting a career remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, Courtney Johnson, a communications specialist at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC, explained how her position as a Boren Scholar lead her to work in public service.

While hearing from all of the panelists was helpful, I especially appreciated Brandon’s insight on navigating his career during this pandemic. I found his remarks on beginning his new job  relatable to my experience of beginning college in a mostly virtual format. He emphasized the importance of community building virtually, which I’ve been able to do in some of my classes.

The panelists were especially appreciative of their experiences in IA Scholars and connected the program to many aspects of their professions. Working in the Department of Homeland Security, Courtney works in international affairs daily. Alex spoke more generally on the importance of being familiar with what’s going on global affairs. All of the panelists agreed being well-informed on global events and politics is important.

Pumpkin Painting

Pumpkin Painting with Social Chair, Amber Morera


31 October 2020

Social Chair, Amber Morera, hosted a pumpkin painting event on the morning of October 31st. 10 first-year IA scholars met outside, under the Park-Stradley tent and had the opportunity to paint decorative pumpkins. This was my first in-person IA event. While I had met a few other first-years in the dorm, I enjoyed the chance to meet new people in the IA community.

As a first year at OSU, I’m impressed with the university’s ability to adapt to virtual events, especially within IA Scholars. I’ve benefited tremendously from the academic and professional development events. However, like many others, I find myself lacking human connection during this pandemic. Attending this in-person event allowed me to have a small dose of in-person socializing, while also following social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions. Amber not only picked a spaced-out, open-air location, she also offered all of the participants their own supplies and hand sanitizer.

I’m not much of an artist, but I found pumpkin painting to be very calming. While next semester plans are uncertain at the moment, I’m hopeful to attend another IA painting event sometime in the future when it is safe to do so.

Current Events Catch-Up

Current Events Catch-Up


25 October 2020

Academic Chair, Samantha Zimmerman, hosted a current events night, where she reviewed recent global news in an engaging and informative way. The event began with a Kahoot game. Participants answered questions about six major current events. Following the Kahoot game, Samantha went into greater detail discussing these six events, and opened the floor up for group discussion following each explanation.

The first event we discussed was the beheading of a French man and the events leading up to this act of violence. The second was about the student-lead protests in Thailand against the government. We had discussed these pro-democracy protests in IA seminar, making the connection to student-lead protests in the U.S. The third event was about the #ENDSARS movement in Nigeria. Samantha provided an in-depth explanation of abuses of power committed by SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad). Similar to the U.S., protests against police brutality have spread throughout Nigeria, and in another tragic parallel, have been met with unwarranted violence from the police units in power.

Following these three heavy topics, Samantha offered some more hopeful news. She shared that a clutch of Loa frogs rescued from a Chilean desert had produced 200 new offspring since being rescued. Since the Loa frogs are critically endangered, this is a win for their species and protecting Chile’s natural biodiversity. This reminded me of how because of the less beach traffic due to COVID-19, the sea turtle population is flourishing. In other good news, puppeteers in the middle east have produced an episode of socially distant Sesame Street. The creators aimed to ease children’s’ fears about COVID-19 and help them understand the importance of social distancing. Finally, Samantha closed with some economic news. She explained how, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market is doing well. Overall, this event was very informative, and I definitely plan to attend again next month!

PhD Info Night With Sam Stelnicki

Applying to a PhD Program With IA + OSU Alum Sam Stelnicki

Academic & Professional Development

12 October 2020

Sam Stelnicki, an IA and OSU Alum, gave an insightful presentation on applying to a PhD program. Sam explained the process of taking the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE),  seeking out research, and writing a personal statement. She also broke down the workload of her coursework and responsibilities within her experimental economics program.

Being in economics, Sam touched on a few research opportunities that may be relevant to my intended EEDS major specialization, environmental economics and policy analysis. I was intrigued by Sam’s specialization in experimental economics which she described as “A way of testing the theories that economics is built on in real life.” Sam also demystified the process of seeking out research in undergrad, which I found both helpful and encouraging.

Sam emphasized the collaborative nature of her PhD program. She mentioned that many of her peers were working internationally. This international collaboration is a hallmark of IA. When asked about the impact of IA Scholars on her new path, Sam mentioned how when she interacts with groups of people, she feels confident in her understanding of current events and her ability to discuss what’s going on in the world. I think this skill is important across disciplines, as demonstrated by Sam, who works in economics and academia.


Climate Change: Insights from History

Climate Change: Insights from History


24 September 2020

Climate Change: Insights from History was a panel discussion with three Department of History faculty members. Professor, Jennifer Eaglin moderated the event, and Professors, John Brooke and Samuel White answered questions regarding modern climate change and historical knowledge of climate change.

The panelists discussed climate history and and climate politicization. Currently in my Environment and Society class for my EEDS major, we are tackling wicked problems in groups. Wicked problems are characterized by their complexity, multi-scale, and relentless nature. My group’s wicked problem is political polarization and how it impacts the environment. Many of the points made by the panelists resonated with me and I plan on bringing them up in my next group discussion.

The importance of global agreements on tackling the climate crisis was heavily emphasized during the panel discussion. Climate change relates to international affairs because it is occurring all around the world, not just in specific communities. During my last IA seminar, we talked about what it means to be a global citizen. An example given in class of reaching beyond our borders for the greater good was the Paris Climate Agreement. The panelists emphasized the importance of such agreements, and how the best way to mitigate climate change is for countries to work together to fight the rising CO2 emissions.

Networking 101 with Ryan Wilhelm

Networking 101 with Ryan Wilhelm, Assistant Director and Career Counselor at Career Counseling and Support Services.

Professional Development

15 September 2020

The Networking 101 event covered effective networking practices for students as well as services provided by Career Counseling and Support Services (CCSS). Ryan Wilhelm, Assistant Director and Career Counselor at CCSS, explained traditional approaches to career planning and how those have changed over time. Before Mr. Wilhelm’s presentation, I had considered networking to be intimidating and inauthentic. He helped me understand the value of networking and ways to overcome intimidating feelings like imposter syndrome.

Some key takeaways for me were career planning and networking resources that Mr. Wilhelm walked everyone through. He discussed the value of career fairs and informational interviewing. Before this event, I hadn’t realized informational interviewing was a possibility. It made career exploration seem less daunting. I plan to utilize this resource as I pursue my professional goals. I also benefited from information about LinkedIn and Handshake. I have recently created a Handshake account, and plan to make a LinkedIn account also.

Networking 101 related to International Affairs in multiple ways. On a micro level, our scholars program is an opportunity for networking. The connections we build with our peers in IA may be long-lasting and even reach into the professional world. On a macro level, Mr. Wilhelm emphasized the importance of building and maintaining connections. As our world becomes more globalized, we are able to build and foster connections on an international level. Mr. Wilhelm showed everyone how we can use LinkedIn to find OSU alumni who have gone on to work in other countries. This resource can help us make connections around the world.