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International Studies Alumni Features

Alumni spotlights featured in the International Studies Quarterly Newsletters.

International Studies - Economics - International Tax Law

Featured in the Winter 2013 International Studies Newsetter

Nathalie Becavin-Tan
B.A. International Studies-Economics and Chinese Studies, 2011
University of San Diego School of Law

These are a few things that made my undergraduate years such a wonderful experience: the beach, late nights with friends, and Sun God. In 2011, I graduated with a Bachelors in International Studies with tracks in Economics and Chinese Studies. Currently, I am attending the University of San Diego School of Law, pursuing international tax law. I have always had a passion for international relations, partly because I grew up in Thailand before moving to the United States. The other part was my fascination with human affairs and world economics. I was actively involved in cultural student organizations and attended many career programs offered at UC San Diego before finally deciding to apply to law school. It took a lot of questioning and searching before knowing what I wanted to do. I entered UCSD with a science major to appease my family's dream for me to be a health professional. However, International Studies was definitely a better choice and set me towards where I want to be.

"If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done." - Thomas Jefferson

International Studies - Political Science - Family Aids Care and Education Services (FACES)

Featured in the Fall 2013 International Studies Newsetter

Caitlin Moe
International Studies - Political Science '13
Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES), Kisumu, Kenya

I am currently working for Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES), which is a partnership between UCSF and
Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and is funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, I am working in the Cervical Cancer Screening Program (CCSP), which is a program under FACES, on a research study for UCSF on the attitudes and beliefs of people towards cervical cancer.

I am living in a very small town on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya. For my job, I do a lot of field work and I cover 11 hospitals in two districts. In addition to conducting surveys, I do screening for women who wish not to be seen by a male health provider. Since there are no female nurses stationed at the clinic, I am there to make sure there are adequate supplies for cervical cancer screening at each health facility, conducting trainings for community health workers to give health talks on cervical cancer screenings in their communities, and researching ways to get men on board to bring their wives in for screening (many women cite needing their husbands' permission as a deterrent to being screened). One of the exciting things about this project is that we are utilizing a new method for cervical cancer screening that uses table vinegar to coagulate cellular proteins which becomes an acetowhite lesion after 90 seconds that can be easily seen by the naked eye when there is a pre-cancerous lesion. It has been proven very effective in resource-poor situations and has gained a lot of attention in the past year.

I love my work because it is a perfect combination of research and patient interaction. It is also really interesting to learn how to work as a member of a group in a different culture since all of my colleagues are Kenyan. I had a hard time at first because I thought my Swahili had gotten really bad before I realized here that in this region, which is predominantly Luo, people mix English, Swahili, and Luo all together. So now I am trying to learn Luo, which is entirely different than any language I have heard before, but sounds vaguely French.

It has been great to see first-hand in real life some of the things that my Honors thesis showed in numbers. I have been able to really get a feel for the subtle, yet definite, tension between Luos and Kikuyus, the wariness people have in their trust for soldiers and police, but most of all the lack of change in government support, even from Luo people, even where I am in the Nyanza province, after the terrible 2008 elections.

International Studies - Political Science - Plant with Purpose

Featured in the Winter 2014 International Studies Newsetter

Jimmy Lee
International Studies, East Asian Studies ‘09
Development Associate, Plant with Purpose

Having lived in four different Asian countries before attending UCSD and having been exposed to many cultures through the international schools I attended, there was no doubt that I wanted to be part of the International Studies Program at UCSD. As an ISP student, I took advantage of the Intensive Language Program and the Joint Program in International Studies by studying abroad in Shanghai for six months. My study abroad experience is one of my favorite and most memorable experiences during college: cheering for the Korean taekwondo team at 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, fighting altitude sickness in Tibet, drinking yak milk (and baijiu) in Inner Mongolia, and attending China’s largest beer festival in Qingdao.

Immediately after graduating from UCSD, I divided my time among the San Diego Asian Film Festival (organized by the Pacific Art Movement), the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, the San Diego Latino
Film Festival, and the Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego. Since then, I have been working for over three years as the Development Associate at Plant With Purpose - a San Diego based international
development organization working to alleviate poverty and reverse environmental degradation around the world. Through Plant With Purpose, I have travelled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic,
leading a group of supporters on a trip to witness the transformative work that is being accomplished by our partners. I also serve on the board of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of San Diego and the board of the United Nations Association in San Diego. Even though I graduated over four years ago, I am still learning so much every day.

My advice for current students would be to intern and/or to volunteer as much as one can while in college - never stop gaining new skills. Sometimes it takes pure luck and just being at the right place
and at the right time to gain employment after college. Interning and volunteering offers you more opportunities to catch that lucky break. On that note, Plant With Purpose offers a slew of internship opportunities each quarter: such as development, grant writing, finance, and programs. You can find out more information at www.plantwithpurpose.org/internships.

International Studies - Economics - Quality Engineer

Featured in the Spring 2014 International Studies Newsetter

Thetan Noel Nguyen
International Studies - Economics '10
Quality Engineer, Lytx, Inc.

I am a Quality Engineer at Lytx, Inc., in San Diego. Our flagship product, DriveCam, powered by LytxTM, helps companies advance the safety and efficiency of their drivers. My day-to-day responsibilities include managing the quality and business relationships with our outsourcing partners in various global locations including the Philippines, India, and Malaysia.

During my undergraduate years, I had no real conviction or path in my mind of where I was going to take the IS degree. I only knew that I wanted to work abroad in China. Even up until the day I
turned in my INTL capstone paper, I was unsure of my next steps and was frightened about the prospects. For me, I stumbled upon my first job, the company I currently work at, through a Craigslist ad. From there, I worked my way into process management and eventually got certified for the Six Sigma Green Belt at UCSD Extension.

To those who are majoring in IS and feel uncertain about the careers out there, the best advice I have for you is to travel, volunteer in international programs, and do whatever it is you can to expose yourself to the international arena. Take full advantage of every connection you build along the way and every experience you gain. The journey you take may lead you to your future career. Whether it is a long or short journey of test and trials, you will get there – don’t give up.

International Studies - Economics - Assistant Professor

Featured in the Fall 2014 International Studies Newsetter

Michael Pluoffe
International Studies - Economics '07
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International Political Economy at the University College London School of Public Policy

I initially chose the International Studies (Economics, Political Science) major because it provided more flexibility than the tracks offered through Economics. I still ended up taking a number of extra math and economics courses and ended up with an economics minor. Along the way, I studied abroad over two summers, at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, and Pembroke College, Cambridge. The
flexibility in the ISP curriculum allowed me to take a number econometrics courses, which have proved their worth countless times. I was also able to dabble in research through several 199's, the ISP honors program, and paid work as a research assistant. Research was a central component of several career options that interested me, and these experiences were invaluable in giving me a further sense of direction.

I began my PhD at UCSD immediately after graduating; the university has an unparalleled reputation for political-economy research and training. As I neared completion of my dissertation, I was offered a permanent research and teaching position at University College London's School of Public Policy. This had been my dream job since I studied at Cambridge, and after a year in London, it has certainly has been living up to my expectations. My advice to current ISP students is threefold: study abroad, because it really is as great as everyone says it is; take advantage of intellectual opportunities outside the classroom while you are at UCSD, because you won't have the time for them once you begin full-time work and you may discover a new interest; finally, especially for those focusing on economics, take as many econometric/statistical analysis courses as possible, as these provide training in highly valuable and transferable skills.