Global Affairs Master's Program Graduates First Class

by Rashad Mulla

George Mason University's global affairs program is recognized for its innovative curriculum. This winter, it reaches an academic landmark.

On Monday, December 20, 2010, the global affairs master of arts program, which began in the fall of 2009, will graduate its first two students. Eid Al Darmaki and Milan Jocic, two students with vastly different experiences before the program, will take part in a reception for winter graduates in Dewberry Hall between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Jocic said he had no reservations about signing up for the new program, and that being part of the first generation of its graduates is an honor. Working for the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, he was already well-versed in international relations through practical experience. As an undergraduate global affairs major at Mason, he developed an excellent rapport with his professors, in the classroom and beyond.

"Taking into consideration the benefits Mason provides, I welcomed the opportunity to be a trailblazer when the global affairs advanced degree was initiated," Jocic said. "Working closely with program director Mills Kelly confirmed that being a part of this groundbreaking course of study will be very beneficial to me and my future career endeavors."

Al Darmaki came to the global affairs program as a full-time government employee. He wanted to increase his understanding of the international community to help him succeed in his current job and any similar employment he seeks in the future.

"I wanted a program that would help me better understand global, political, economic and human systems," Al Darmaki said. "This program has given me an excellent foundation and knowledge that will be very useful for my current government job, and hopefully for future opportunities in foreign service."

Both graduates had feedback regarding the master of arts program's unique course structure.

Jocic said the course work itself was different from other master’s programs at Mason. The class discussions, he said, were intertwined with current issues.

But Jocic found the study abroad requirement to be the program's hallmark.

"Having conversations and debates with European Union officials is a vital step in professional work environments through a shadowing experience," Jocic said, having traveled to Brussels, Belgium. "Being a part of classroom discussions is important. However, working and studying abroad enhances our skills and knowledge."

Al Darmaki said the program was beneficial to him, and can benefit students seeking to broaden their global horizons.

"It is a good program for students who plan to work with governments or organizations in different places in the world," Al Darmaki said. "The program will help students who will visit other countries gain a well-rounded perspective."

The program's first two graduates plan to apply their degrees almost immediately. Al Darmaki would like to look for a job in his native United Arab Emirates. Jocic, who works for the State Department, awaits his next assignment, to Ljubljana, Slovenia.