Alumna Reflects on Int’l Adventures, Past and Present

For Aamina Awan ’07, life seemed to have come full circle on Friday, October 4th when she stood in front of an International Economics course to talk about her transition from life as an International Studies major into the real world. She returned to the Fairfield campus to share her experiences with students during class visits and over lunch as she reminisced about her exciting time as a graduating senior in International Studies and the subsequent adventures following graduation.

Aamina Awan '07 enjoying lunch with IL students, Oct 4. 2013.

Aamina Awan ’07 (middle) with IL students.

When Aamina graduated in 2007, she already knew her immediate plans. Aamina was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to research women’s role in entrepreneurship and economic development in Bahrain. After a successful year in Bahrain, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Gender and International Development from the London School of Economics. While completing her studies, she was a research contributor for The Economist Group. After graduating in 2009, Aamina decided to serve the US Embassy to Spain, located in Madrid, as a Public Affairs Fellow.

By 2010, It had been nearly three years abroad when Aamina decided it was time to return to the US and find ways to make a difference at home. She took an investment banking recruiter position with Credit Suisse, which exposed her to an array of higher education institutions. Then, came the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to work for US President William Jefferson Clinton.

After serving Credit Suisse for more than two years, Aamina’s diverse experiences and dynamic personality landed her a role with the Clinton Global Initiative University. As a program manager, Aamina helps to lead programs that bring together students, youth organizations, experts, and celebrities to develop unique ideas to address complex global issues. During the lunch in the International Studies office, which was packed with excited students and faculty, she promoted the upcoming CGI U conference scheduled for March 21-23, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. She also shared some invaluable advice with currents students: be informed and take initiative to engage with people in fields where they hope to work in the future. She also encouraged students to boldly venture out into the world and explore different options.

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The Power of Internships

Sometimes all you need is a foot in door. Often times an internship will serve as that buffer between the angst of college life and the uncertain, but fascinating world of a professional career. It can be a great way to figure out where you might be a “good fit,” a common phrase used to describe one’s sense of belonging with an organization or community. With the right support, internships can be an effective way to discover one’s gifts and passions.

Jason Chmura, Manager of New Business Development at Save the Children, discusses internship opportunities with students on Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

Jason Chmura, Manager of New Business Development at Save the Children, discusses internship opportunities with IL students on Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

A few years ago, I had a student named Weronika who was interested in pursuing an internship with Save the Children for academic credit. She was one of five interns with “Save” that semester who participated in our IL 298 internship course. Each student developed an e-Portfolio to track their goals and accomplishments throughout the semester. Following the semester-long experience, Weronika discerned that Save the Children was a great fit for her and was fortunate to be retained full time by the global non-governmental organization. Two years later, she returned to our office with colleagues from Save the Children to recruit more IL students for internship opportunities.

Let’s be clear, internships do not always guarantee outcomes like Weronika’s. What internships offer is the rare opportunity of time to learn and explore a potential career path. Once hired, the objectives of your employer and the responsibilities of your role will drive your priorities. Take advantage of the opportunity to apprentice while you can. As an International Studies or International Business major, you should use these precious moments to figure out where and how your academic study can serve as a bridge to your professional aspirations.

For information about internship opportunities with International Studies visit our internship Web page or contact me at

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Optimal Time for International Studies

As the summer comes to a close, the thought of returning to campus or coming to campus for the first time is probably keeping some of you up at night. I hope you were able to find some time to follow along with current events in recent months. This is a fascinating time in human history. As students of interdisciplinary study, you are emerging at a time when the world’s complexities are arguably more transparent than ever before.

Politics and ideology contribute to ongoing tensions in different parts of the world including the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and hsee-the-worldere in the US. With globalization, past adversaries from the Cold War are now engaged in complicated economic and military partnerships. Regardless of differences in ideology or perspectives on human rights, the US will continue tricky, but important relationships with countries like China and Russia. That is the way our world works.

This is a slither of the kinds of discussions that you can explore today in International and Area Studies. Whether it is questions related to global migration, economic justice (or injustice), limited natural resources, emerging cultural identities, or new opportunities for business growth, this is a great time to be a student of International Studies or International Business. It is a great opportunity to grasp old ideas and develop new perspectives on how to understand the world you are inheriting. It is through your understanding, that you will find innovative ways to contribute to its preservation.


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