|Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies Program, Class of 2018
|Summer 2017: Interned at the National Democratic Institute field office in Tbilisi, Georgia.|
|Favorite Class: Ethnicity, Race and Nation with Charles King|
Student Fellow and Librarian in the CERES office
Interned with Democracy International in DC, Spring 2018
by Xander Causwell
“There is something about Georgetown that keeps drawing me back to it,” says April Gordon about her return to SFS for graduate studies after graduating from the SFS undergraduate program. The year she spent in the Republic of Georgia, between degrees, inspired Gordon to enroll in the Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies Program, “I wanted to return to that supportive and stimulating community in order to investigate the new questions and ideas that drove me. I chose the CERES program specifically because I had already completed an undergraduate certificate with their department, and knew that I had only begun to scratch the surface of the many opportunities that the program had to offer.”
Beyond the program’s alignment with her academic interests, Gordon also valued its flexibility, “I came into my master’s with a clear vision of what I wanted to get from the experience, and that vision did not waver during my time here. I was incredibly grateful to CERES for giving me the flexibility in my course selections to closely tailor my coursework to my needs and interests, as well as for providing me a platform on which to conduct research in my field.”
The program’s flexibility also allowed her to broaden her language skills, and pursue courses beyond those in CERES. Throughout her 2 years in the program, Gordon undertook advanced Russian language courses. Additionally, during the summer of 2017, CERES sponsored her intensive language course in Georgian through American Councils. Gordon’s favorite course at Georgetown, however, turned out to be one outside of her main interests–Ethnicity, Race and Nation, with Professor Charles King. “As students, we were infected by his enthusiasm for the subject. Upon returning to Georgetown for my master’s, it was a high priority for me to take a course with Professor King, and it was such as worthwhile experience,” she says.
Gordon, however, credits multiple professors with enriching her time at CERES. “Just about every professor I have encountered in my master’s studies has made themselves available to provide valuable mentorship and guidance as I navigated my academics, career and life. Kenneth Yalowitz, Dennis Deletant, and Kathleen Smith are just a few, and there are many others,” she says.
Gordon spent a lot of time getting know those faculty members, as well as her fellow students at CERES, due to her heavy involvement in the program. She worked for two years in the CERES office, as a Student Fellow–responsible for assisting with social media and event facilitation–and CERES Librarian. Understandably, the family she built in the program is the aspect of Georgetown she will miss the most. “I will miss the community of students and faculty at CERES. The program is small and we spend a great deal of time together – it will be bittersweet to say goodbye to those people and close that chapter of my life.”
Despite her deep attachment to Georgetown, Gordon has not lost sight of what drove her to CERES and the goal she has been working for. She “plans to go into the field of international development, ideally working on democracy, human rights, and governance projects in Eurasia. More than anything, however, I just have a strong drive to ‘do good’ with my career, and am open to following that motivation wherever it takes me.” Toward that end, she interned at the National Democratic Institute field office in Tbilisi, Georgia last summer, and with Democracy International in DC this past semester.
Now Gordon is set to take up a new position at McLarty Associates as an Associate on their Europe and Eurasia team, doing strategic consulting for companies operating in the region. Gordon says that she is “primarily interested in using this opportunity to explore how the private sector works as a positive force for development.” For the long-term, though, she is eyeing a move back to Georgia, which has become a second home for her.