|Master of Arts in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, Class of 2019|
|Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico|
|Summer 2018: Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania|
|Favorite class: Energy and Environment in Eurasia|
Stephanie Myers-Irizarry (MAERES’19) has an exciting future ahead of her. After she graduates this May with a Master of Arts in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, she will join the U.S. Foreign Service, where she hopes to work in Central Asia and focus on environmental policy and energy trade. But graduating from Georgetown also means leaving behind the classmates and professors that Myers-Irizarry says have made her two years here so special. Her only regret? “I wish I could audit every single class,” she admits. During her time at SFS, Myers-Irizarry has discovered her passion for energy markets, improved her grasp of the Russian language, and learned skills that she’s confident will help her in her career.
Finding the Perfect Fit
With the encouragement and advice of the University of Puerto Rico’s Honors Program Director, she applied to the Master of Arts in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies program after graduating with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics. For Myers-Irizarry, Georgetown combined a focus on professional development and research skills with a robust language program and faculty with varied areas of expertise. Ultimately, she says, “Georgetown felt like the best fit.”
While at SFS, Myers-Irizarry has enjoyed having professors who have encouraged her to grow, academically and professionally. “I felt like they weren’t just focused on grading my assignments, but wanted to help me become a better researcher,” she says. She also notes that she’s gotten more comfortable with public speaking, thanks to her discussion-based courses. “Georgetown courses also use active participation; I used to be nervous about public speaking, but am now much more confident.”
Discovering a Passion for Energy Markets
Before coming to the SFS, Myers-Irizarry planned to focus broadly on Russian foreign policy. Since arriving, however, she’s discovered a strong interest in energy markets, which incorporates both political and economic considerations.
Myers-Irizarry particularly enjoyed Energy and Environment in Eurasia with Professor Theresa Sabonis-Helf. This course involved examining challenges faced by both energy-poor and energy-rich states, looking at the Soviet legacy of pollutants and “national sacrifice zones” in Eurasian environmental policy, assessing transnational resource management problems, and analyzing the role of the international community in Eurasia. “I learned so much; the class covered a wide range of topics that ended up being very relevant for my career interests. It combined politics, economics, policy studies and environmental science in one,” Myers-Irizarry says.
Focusing on Language
During her time as an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Myers-Irizarry spent one year on a Boren Scholarship in Moscow, Russia. The Boren Scholarship funds study abroad for undergraduates, in exchange for one year of working in the federal government after graduation. After graduating, Myers-Irizarry worked for the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Language has continued to be an integral part of Myers-Irizarry’s studies. She sought to continue to improve her Russian speaking, comprehension, and vocabulary, which was part of the her reason for choosing Georgetown. While at Georgetown, she’s taken advantage of the high-level course offerings. “I wanted to improve my Russian as much as I could, and I really loved that I could take more advanced courses or Russian-language literature courses,” she says.
A Career in Public Service
While in Russia, Myers-Irizarry was inspired by hearing from Foreign Service Officers about their careers. While speaking with them, she says, “I was struck by how, regardless of their different career tracks and countries where they previously served, they were equally dedicated to representing America through diplomacy. Through these conversations, I realized the importance of skillful and agile diplomacy, and have since sought to participate in these endeavors.”
Myers-Irizarry was inspired to apply for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. She successfully earned the fellowship, which provides funding for two years of graduate study, as well as professional development experiences. In exchange, Pickering Fellows commit to a minimum of five years in the U.S. Foreign Service. As part of the fellowship, Myers-Irizarry spent the summer between her first and second year of graduate school at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. After she graduates, she will begin at the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.