Summer Lyle-Holmes, SFS’18, International Politics

Summer L-H headshot

Summer Lyle-Holmes
Melbourne, Australia
SFS Class of 2018
Major: IPOL – International Politics


Why did you choose to apply to the SFS at Georgetown?

I have always been interested in the field of international relations because it combines all of my separate interests — languages, politics, philosophy — and interweaves them in a way that makes sense of the world, particularly why we are where we are at today. The SFS curriculum is, I think, the most thorough and well-rounded education in international affairs available in the country. The professors have been where most of the students wish to go, and therefore can relay an education that goes far beyond covering materials for the midterm. Even though the core can seem annoying (I hate econ!), you begin to realize that all your classes touch on the same topics from different perspectives, and a real depth of understanding starts to emerge at the end of your freshman year.

Why did you choose your major? What are you focusing on within International Politics?

I was settled on my major before I arrived at Georgetown and I’ve never wavered from it since I arrived. For me, the political is the most interesting and most comprehensive of all disciplines in international relations, as it inevitably incorporates economic and cultural aspects. My concentration is in international law, as I hope to go on and specialize in this area at law school. The concentration is a little broader than just law though, also focusing on institutions and ethics. I like the inclusion of ethics because it allows me to pursue my philosophical interests, and the institutional side gives it a concrete, practical focus. As I said, it’s really all encompassing.

Which Proseminar did you take freshman year? What has been your favorite class within your major so far?

I took the ‘War, Peace and International Institutions’ Prosem with Professor Erik Voeten. It was definitely one of, if not my very favourite, classes. Coming from a small high school, it was really valuable to be able to come into university and continue with discussion-based style learning straight away. It really provided a strong foundation for everything I’ve explored in my other classes from game theory to the pillar theories of International Relations. I’ve only taken two classes for my major so far and am currently enrolled in both, so I’d have to say ‘Courts, Constitutions and New Democracies’ [has been my favorite class within my major so far].  We are looking at the role of the judiciary, different systems of constitutional review and, ultimately, why countries choose to install a judicial arm. What defines judicial independence? Why would policy makers delegate power through written law to justices? Honestly I feel like I’ve hit fast forward 5 years to law school.

Summer L-H MandelaHave you studied abroad? How will this experience fit into your interests and requirements within your major? What languages are you pursuing during your time here and how does that language study enhance your major?

I take French, and will hopefully be studying abroad in Morocco next semester. My French classes, especially at the advanced level, have really focused on cultural and historical issues. This definitely piqued my interest in the northern African region, escalating to my situation now where I hope to spend a few months living there!

What organizations or activities are you involved in on campus? What makes these activities meaningful to you?

I write for ‘The Caravel,’ the international affairs newspaper on campus. I write for the East Asia and Oceania section, and I’m able to concentrate mainly on Australia, where I’m from, which really helps me to keep up with local news and makes me feel less disconnected from my side of the world even though I’m thousands of kilometres away. I’m also a cheerleader, which, on the other end of the spectrum, makes me feel more switched into the American experience. I even know the tune of the national anthem now, and some of the words, and am starting to feel like I actually have some concrete claim to that American passport of mine!

What are your future career goals and aspirations, and how does your major fit into your plans for the future?

I hope to study international law and go into this field in some way, as I think it is an area that has so much potential to really change the way the international political realm functions, but is as of now operating at a level far below its optimum efficacy. Basically there is a lot of work to be done and the best possible reasons for doing it. Whether I contribute as a lawyer, an activist, an educator, a writer or journalist? I really don’t know at this point, but my studies streamline very nicely into any of these options.

Summer L-H Dip BallWhat advice do you have for current or future BSFS students trying to determine their major?

Go for whichever option presents the opportunities that will stimulate you the most. By this I mean interest, challenge and excite you. That is the combination that will make you successful. It’s really important to look at your trajectory from that perspective rather than being inductive, projecting some vision you see of yourself in 10 years and basing your choice on what you think will make you successful at that time out there. Whatever will make you work hardest and be most energized now is what will make you successful now, and that ultimately is what will lead to further opportunities later that will give you that same sense of excitement and energy for work. If you don’t like studying a topic now in this environment, chances are you are not going to enjoy spending 12 hours a day working on problems pertaining to that same subject once you have finished school.