We recently sat down with 2020 International Affairs graduate, and current MAIA student, Jenna Patterson, to speak with her about her experience at the Washington Program on National Security at the Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) in Summer 2019. The program is held in Washington, D.C. and is directed by AHI Senior Fellow Dr. Juliana Pilon.

MAIA Student Jenna Patterson

Jenna spent two weeks in D.C. for the program, and actually had to take a break from her internship at the Belgian Consulate in Atlanta to attend. Before attending, Jenna was getting ready to graduate with her International Affairs degree, focusing on Eastern European Politics, and she was not quite sure what she wanted to do.

“The biggest thing [for me] being an International Affairs major, is that you have so many different opportunities and paths that you can take that degree into,” said Jenna. Dr. Jon Miner was responsible for sharing the information about this program with Jenna, and she is very thankful that he did.

Jenna and the other students had the opportunity to listen to several guest speakers, including former Foreign Service Officers, former US Information Agency employees, and even a speaker from CIPE, the Center for International Private Enter- prise. And because she attended this program, Jenna realized her ultimate career goal is to become a Sr. Fellow at CIPE.

“When it comes to International Affairs and Political Science, everyone takes a different path to get to where they are,” said Jenna. “There is not just one way to end up in certain fields and/or positions. It gives a person an opportunity to truly explore what you are interested in and passionate about.”

There were several highlights of the program, but one thing she got to take home was a reading list. Jenna told us that she asked every speaker what book they would recommend to read, and read more than once. She is working her way through that reading list, and there are books she has read that she would have never thought to pick up.

“It gives you an additional perspective when you are doing your studies,” added Jenna. “Learning from the sources that the speakers recommended for news and information has helped me understand my course material even more.”

We asked Jenna what was one of her favorite things she got to experience during the program. She told us that the group was taken to visit the Hudson Institute, which is a Think Tank and research center dedicated to nonpartisan analyst of U.S. and international economic, security, and political issues. The group was also able to visit USAID (US Agency for International Development), the world’s premier international development agency. “It was the coolest thing we were able to do,” said Jenna.

We also asked Jenna to give one piece of advice to current and future students. “I would definitely recommend looking into the program(s) at The Alexander Hamilton Institute — it was a life changing experience for me,” said Jenna. “I would also say, make connections and use those connections to continue
to learn and further yourself in your academic and professional careers.”

Jenna is set to graduate with her Master’s in Spring 2022, and is eager to see what is in store for her next.