We are incredibly proud of our 2017 MA award-winning graduates and would like to spotlight their successes and accomplishments during their time at Mason. Read more about their stories below.
Coming from a small town better known for horse-and-buggy traffic than diversity, I never thought that in four years I would hike the Sierra Nevada in Spain, spend a semester on Capitol Hill, host a round table discussion with the Dalai Lama, and graduate with not one, but two degrees. My time at Mason has been immensely rewarding and I owe that, in large part, to the Global Affairs program. I was lucky to find my passion in Global Affairs early on, but at the beginning I could not have guessed what Global Affairs truly encompasses. I have had the unique privilege of learning about global governance, planning national security strategy, and interacting with an array of exciting cultures. I have made countless memories at Mason, from playing on the club soccer team to participating in the stressful but rewarding Global Politics Fellows program to studying abroad with fantastic people in Cuba and Spain. I would like to thank the professors and advisors that supported me along the way and constantly reminded me that I’m actually pretty good at this! And of course I want to thank my parents for helping me to reach my goals, and most importantly my mom for being my personal editor on all those papers I wrote. I’m going to miss Mason, but I’m excited for the adventures ahead.
Mirela Catuneanu has lived, worked, and studied on two continents and four different countries (Romania, the UK, Canada and the US). She has studied philology, linguistics, business, international trade and global affairs and she has worked as a translator and interpreter, as a teacher, as administrative staff and as an operations analyst, both in the public and in the private sector. Her Master’s in Global Affairs builds on her previous experience and will help her be a better global citizen able to acknowledge and hopefully to identify solutions to the unique challenges of an interdependent world in which socioeconomic transformation and changing cultural paradigms have become the norm. Here, at George Mason University, she has learnt how to understand global affairs through interdisciplinary academic training and experiences. She sees no better approach to understanding the complex and ever evolving world around us than an interdisciplinary one. She chose GMU’s MA in Global Affairs precisely for this purpose and she was not disappointed. She has met amazing instructors and she benefitted from their knowledge and passion for teaching and for helping students strive in all possible ways. And she has met bright peers devoted to advancing their studies and careers, focused and ambitious. GMU has been an extraordinarily nurturing environment where she was able to better herself. She is very grateful to each and every of her instructors: Dr. Breglia, Dr. Ashley, Dr. Hultin, Dr. Razzano, Dr. de Caroli, Dr. Ericson and Dr. Seligmann, all highly accomplished professionals and amazing human beings. After graduation, Mirela will continue her work in development as a World Bank staff member and will contribute to achieving the mission of this international organization.
Alina was born and grew up in Transylvania, Romania. But, no, she is not a vampire! Shortly after moving to the U.S. she started working for Bank of America and later for AON, where she experienced globalization first hand as many of her coworkers were located in India. She quickly realized that she wanted to do more, to have a more fulfilling and meaningful career so she decided to work for the US government. She worked for the Department of Transportation for a few months and then found employment at Peace Corps. Wanting to stay loyal to her homestate of Virginia, and after hearing great things about Mason, she decided to apply to the Global Affairs program. She is forever grateful for being admitted into the program (thank you Lisa) where she met amazing students and professors. One of her favorites moments in the program was her GLOA 710 seminar abroad in Sweden. She remembers fondly the amazing professors she met at the Stockholm and Uppsala Universities, but her daily FIKA breaks in Stockholm surrounded by her peers while enjoying the unusually great weather for May in Stockholm will be unforgettable. As far as her career goes she will continue working for Peace Corps until her five-year term ends. She is sure that her degree from George Mason will bring new amazing opportunities.
When I first joined the GLOA program I had no idea where I wanted to go professionally or academically. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of working with incredible professors such as Dr. Breglia, Dr. Hultin, Dr. Son and Dr. Razzano, who helped me find a destination, and provided me with the tools and knowledge to get to there. I truly enjoyed my experience here at Mason, from the seminar abroad where I officially started the program, to the GLOA720-senior seminar at the Fairfax campus where I crossed that finish line. I want to wish you all good luck and hope that you will continue to push the Global Affairs program in the right direction.
Coming back to my home of over 20 years to complete a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs was far from what I originally had in mind after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree less than a year before. However, the program helped me to intellectually and physically reach places I never imagined I could go. From the intellectual rigors of risk analysis with Dr. Block, complex systems with Dr. Root, and economic development with Dr. Singh, to the excitement of learning in Havana, Cuba with Dr. Breglia, the experiences I have had in the program have helped me grow in more ways than I realized upon entering the program. I would like to extend special thanks Dr. Breglia for welcoming me into the program, for engaging me in sometimes heated but always constructive intellectual discussion in GLOA 600, and for running a memorable GLOA 710 seminar abroad in Havana. I am grateful to have had these experiences during my time at Mason, and would like to thank every one of my GLOA professors for contributing to my intellectual enrichment. The greater aptitude that I have developed for creative problem solving in governance, public policy, and economic issues that I gained here has motivated me to apply for Ph.D programs, to matriculate in 2018. Finally, I would like to thank my family, and especially my mother and father, for giving me the support that has helped to make my past and future successes possible. There is nobody that I am prouder to have on my side than you all, and I cannot wait to share in whatever my future holds with you. You all inspire me to reach new heights, and I will not be stopping anytime soon. Thank you for everything, and for sharing this moment with me.
Cecilia is originally from Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. She came to George Mason University from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. She is a lifetime member of two academic honor societies, Delta Epsilon Iota and Phi Beta Delta.
Applying and subsequently enrolling in the global affairs studies program proved to be a great academic opportunity because it has trained her in understanding the interconnectedness of the world as well as analyzing current global issues. Her favorite GLOA class was for sure the seminar abroad in Sweden last summer (2016), a trip to remember, with its share of great, and not so great, memories! At the end of this amazing academic journey, she would like to pursue a career in economic development or public health. When she is not working on homework and other school-related activities, she enjoys reading, singing, and learning Spanish.
She would like to thank God for blessing her with so many great opportunities and without whom she would have not been here today. She would also like to thank her parents, Sylvester and Nadine, for their endless sacrifices and efforts toward her education and well-being. Finally, she would like to thank her brother Patrick as well as everyone else (friends, teachers) who has contributed to her major milestones; you know who you are.
I came to the US with a degree in Romance Languages Studies from the University of Dakar and a dream of a better tomorrow. But after a few years, I felt immobilized and realized that I needed to do more for myself. So, after using up all of the “what ifs” of a lifetime, I decided to return to college. The first days were not easy. I was working full time and I had a child to take care. But, I had grown up witnessing the difficult living conditions of women in southern Senegal and I always wanted to do something about it. Plus, my Dad’s passion for education and his words of wisdom, it is never too late to learn, made me much more secure (even if a little bit terrified) about the prospects of going to college in the US.
One step at a time, I earned two associates degrees: one in Business Management and one in International Business. Then I transferred to Mason and went on for an undergraduate degree in Global Affairs focusing on International Development and my MA focusing on Global Health. Now I have the credential to back fourteen years’ experience in projects support and to transition into global health and development field.
My most memorable experience was the trip of a lifetime to Cuba. Indeed, standing on the monumental steps at the University of Havana in front of Alma Mater status was a moment to remember forever!
I would like to express my appreciation to those with whom I have been able to exchange views and who have assisted me. My sincere thanks to all my professors, especially, program director Lisa Breglia for her valuable help and for the time she has devoted to me as well as professors Jennifer Ashley and Niklas Hultin for their words, advice and time devoted to discussions on various subjects. I also warmly thank my colleagues at work. And lastly but not least, I thank my husband and daughter for their never‐ending support throughout, and shared dedication in helping me achieve my goals.
May 09, 2017