Unknown to Alexis Katzelnick-Wise at the time, a summer in Spain as a high school exchange student ignited her life’s work.
“It was my first time living abroad, and it got me interested in internationally-focused things,” she said.
This interest developed exponentially later on in college, where the global studies and international development courses in her curriculum cemented her worldly affinities.
The next step was to get into a master’s program that would cater to Katzelnick-Wise’s international development aspirations. Location was key: She knew pursuing a degree in the Washington, D.C., area would be a smart move for her field of study. She applied and was accepted into several schools in and around the nation’s capital. Her top pick was George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.
“George Mason attracted me because it was the only school that offered a teaching assistant option for master’s students,” she said. “It also provided an intimate learning environment that was really appealing.”
Katzelnick-Wise started her M.A. in Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations, in 2008 and took advantage of the Schar School’s global course offerings. She immersed herself in international development classes, even going abroad to Switzerland and South Africa to further cultivate her global focus. It’s no wonder she recalls her master’s experience with reverence.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “International opportunities aside, I also appreciated that I wasn’t learning in giant lecture halls with 200 other students, which allowed for a lot of attention and support from professors and connections with other grad students that I’m still close with now.”