Undergraduate institution: Villanova University
Undergraduate major and minor: Political Science major, Italian minor
Graduate studies (year, institution, degree): 2013-2016, Johns Hopkins University, MBA and MA in Government
What have you been up to since attending Umbra?
After graduation, I interned and worked on the staff of two members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Afterwards, I worked briefly for the Democratic National Committee but was offered a job with the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA soon after taking the position at the DNC. Since international relations was my primary interest, I decided to leave the DNC for FAS soon after accepting the job. I have been at FAS since then and currently manage several of USDA’s partnership programs with USAID. I have worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and much of Sub-Saharan Africa, often in post-conflict regions and the developing world. I have lived and worked in Washington, DC since 2008 and enjoy policy and politics and its impact on American voters.
How has studying abroad impacted your life both personally and professionally?
Studying abroad gave me the independence to take control of my academics in a way I had not done previously. Discovering that I was able to live and succeed in another country while speaking another language gave me the confidence to know I could succeed on my own in my studies back home. I also made some close friends with whom I still remain in contact, even attending a few of their weddings since. I made some of my favorite memories during my time in Italy and I regularly advocate for studying abroad to current students who are considering it. Even if you may not directly use the knowledge you gain through study abroad in your daily work, the experiences will always better round you and make you more worldly.
What are you doing now?
I am a Program Manager at the Foreign Agricultural Service at USDA. I manage teams of international trade development experts in conjunction with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). I am interested in international relations, politics and business management. I consider myself a bit of a ‘political junkie’ and am fascinated with the inner-workings of Washington, DC. I am actively engaged with my alumni association as the president of my local chapter and I try to volunteer in my community as much as possible. I enjoy having many friends and trying new experiences to further broaden my perspective.
Are you still in touch with the friends you made in Perugia?
Yes, of course! I went to a couple weddings of friends I met in Perugia and I remain close to several of them.
What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective students thinking of studying abroad?
Whatever your reservations are about studying abroad, get over them! This will be the most impactful experience of college and you should do whatever it takes to take this opportunity. Know that whatever is making you hesitate (fulfilling academic requirements, not understanding the language, stepping out of your comfort zone, etc.) are only short-term considerations. You will have the experience of studying abroad with you for the rest of your life and those considerations will seem trivial in hindsight compared to the wealth of knowledge you will gain as a result of taking a chance.
What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying abroad (during or after their experience)?
Try to learn the language of the country you are living in and keep practicing after you left. I regret not having kept using my Italian after I left and now I feel like I have lost it. It is hard to keep practicing when you do not necessarily have to but you will be thankful in ten years when you can still carry on a conversation in your practiced language. It can open lots of professional doors as well!