Category: Featured News, Graduate Profiles 2021, News, Students

Title: Alexis Dale-Huang (MASIA’21) Adds SFS Expertise to a Career in Asia-Pacific Security

Author: Caroline Hamilton
Date Published: May 12, 2021
Profile Picture of Alexis Dale-Huang (MASIA'21)
While at ASP, Alexis Dale-Huang (MASIA’21) has been able to partake in a number of opportunities for research in Asia-Pacific security.

When Alexis Dale-Huang (MASIA’21) enrolled in the Master of Arts in Asian Studies (MASIA) program at SFS, she was eager to learn from her professors’ regional expertise and take advantage of the unique internship and work opportunities afforded by Georgetown’s location in the U.S. capital.

Two years — and one pandemic — later, Dale-Huang is preparing to graduate and continue on in her role as a research assistant at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Though the pandemic has created unexpected challenges in Dale-Huang’s master’s experience, she credits supportive and knowledgeable faculty in the Asian Studies Program (ASP) with providing essential resources and support.

“I will always remember the support I received from the faculty and staff in the Asian Studies Program, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dale-Huang says. “I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the classes I have taken at Georgetown and look forward to seeing how I can apply the skills and knowledge I have learned to a future research career in Asia-Pacific security.”

At a Glance

Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Program of study: Master of Arts in Asian Studies (MASIA)

Language: Mandarin

On-campus activities: Research Assistant for Prof. Evan Medeiros; Program Assistant for the Asian Studies Program (ASP)

Non-GU activities: Research Intern at the Brookings Institution in the summer of 2020; full-time Research Assistant at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

Regional and Functional Expertise

With a background in international relations and East Asia, Dale-Huang hoped that joining the Asian Studies Program (ASP) would allow her to explore both interests in ways that she could apply to her professional work. 

“I was most drawn to the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown because it aims to give students both a regional and functional expertise,” she says. “This allowed me to continue studying China while also taking security-focused classes like classes on China’s People’s Liberation Army and theories of cyberwar.”

Dale-Huang highlights Professor Evan Medeiros’ The Fundamental Dynamics of U.S.-China Relations as a favorite class for this reason. “Prior to coming to Georgetown, I had only taken classes on Chinese politics and Chinese foreign policy. This class is unique in that it studies the history of the U.S.-China relationship itself,” she says.

Writing assignments and class presentations challenged Dale-Huang to improve her public speaking and communication skills, which she has already been able to apply to her work at the Brookings Institution and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

For Dale-Huang, Medeiros has been a key source of support in both academic and professional pursuits. “Dr. Medeiros gave me my first graduate research position at Georgetown and supported me when I was applying for jobs and internships,” she explains.

The chance to take courses with distinguished professors such as Medeiros is part of what compelled Dale-Huang to enroll in ASP.  She had read articles by many of her professors before enrolling in the program, and conversations in class and office hours allowed her to gain practical insights into the field of Asia-Pacific security. 

“Taking classes with experienced policy professionals has deepened my knowledge of U.S.-China relations and Chinese security policy,” Dale-Huang says.

A Supportive Community of Scholars

Dale-Huang sits at a small table on the porch of her apartment, working on her laptop. Next to her is a small white dog named Sprout.
In addition to building community with her ASP cohort, Dale-Huang also got to know a foster dog that she later adopted — meet Sprout!

In addition to the academic rigor she knew she would find at ASP, Dale-Huang was excited about the prospect of getting to know a welcoming community of learners and practitioners. 

“The Asian Studies Program’s smaller cohort size was also one of the primary reasons I chose the program, as it allowed me to build strong connections with both the faculty and my classmates,” she says.

She recalls presenting her thesis topic in Professor Kristen Looney’s graduate thesis seminar as an opportunity to learn more about the diverse interests of her cohort. “With this being my first academic presentation in graduate school, the assignment helped me improve my public speaking skills and explain my research topic to a diverse audience,” Dale-Huang says. “I also enjoyed listening to what my classmates were studying and was impressed by the quality of their research proposals.”

As Dale-Huang balanced work on her thesis with internships and research positions, she received support from a number of ASP faculty members. “My faculty advisors Dr. Victor Cha and Dr. Michael Green frequently met with me to discuss my papers for class, potential internships and classes I should take at Georgetown,” she says.

ASP staff members ensured that Dale-Huang and her cohort could transition smoothly to an online learning environment after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the SFS community to change course and meet a number of new challenges. “Robert Lyons and Stephanie Gage were my biggest cheerleaders and made studying at Georgetown in a virtual environment a seamless and engaging experience,” she says.

Georgetown also offered Dale-Huang the career development resources that have helped her to succeed. “The Asian Studies Program’s workshops and the SFS Graduate Career Center’s resources also played instrumental roles in my internship and job searches,” she says.

Despite the unexpected obstacles presented by COVID-19, Dale-Huang credits her mentors and colleagues in ASP with building a strong sense of community within the program. 

“The faculty and staff in the Asian Studies Program have formed a supportive community that wants to help its students make the most out of their Georgetown experience,” Dale-Huang explains. “They have been especially helpful with connecting students to the Asian Studies Program community throughout the pandemic and have made learning online a rewarding experience.”

Professional Opportunities in the Nation’s Capital

Dale-Huang took advantage of SFS’s career support resources to pursue professional opportunities during her time in DC. “My favorite way to engage with Washington has been by taking part in internship and work experiences while in school,” she says.

Over the summer of 2020, Dale-Huang worked as a research intern for the Brookings Institution, and later began working as a research assistant for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, where she will continue to work after graduation. “I am excited to continue supporting the Commission’s work on emerging issues in the U.S.-China security relationship,” she says.

Dale-Huang’s work with both institutions has benefited from skills and expertise she gained at ASP. Her Mandarin classes have been especially helpful as she delves into official government documents for her research. 

“I took Chinese in Diplomatic Discourse with Professor Lihong Huang to enhance my vocabulary and better understand how to read Chinese government documents,” she explains. “This class was particularly helpful for my Chinese language research at my internship and current job.”

As she progressed through her master’s studies at ASP and applied her knowledge in internship and professional roles, Dale-Huang became more confident in her career trajectory. After graduation, she hopes to continue researching Chinese foreign policy and Asian-Pacific security more broadly.

“The diverse array of classes that I took at Georgetown introduced me to new topics and helped me understand how they could apply to different areas of Chinese foreign policy,” Dale-Huang says. “Studying at Georgetown helped me realize that I wanted to continue studying China, as many of the classes gave me a much deeper understanding of the drivers and actors behind its changing foreign policy strategy.”