From becoming a seasoned intern in the U.S. government, to forming close relationships with her mentors in The Master of Arts in German and European Studies (MAGES) program, Shelby Emami has always aimed to get the most out of her academic experience.
A graduate student at the BMW Center for German and European Studies with a concentration in International Mediation and Negotiation, it’s safe to say that Emami will be leaving the School of Foreign Service having achieved her goal.
Since arriving on the Hilltop two years ago, Emami has interned in the Office of Vice President Kamala Harris, served under Senator Amy Klobuchar on the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and produced the Europe Desk Podcast on campus — all while taking a myriad of classes across the SFS.
As she graduates this spring, Emami says she will leave Georgetown with a life-long commitment to public service. “I’ll be applying to law school in the near future,” she says. “Being in SFS has given me the tools to think critically and analytically, refine my writing skills, and given me the confidence to vocalize my stance on issues I am passionate about.”
Time at MAGES
The daughter of immigrants who moved to the United States following Iran’s 1979 revolution, Emami grew up with a heightened awareness of international politics as a child.
Opting to further explore her interest in foreign affairs during her undergraduate studies, Emami was quickly drawn to the study of the transatlantic alliance between Europe and the United States — a fascination that began after she took a class on Citizenship and Migration in International Politics while studying abroad in Spain.
Her interest in Europe eventually led her to apply to Georgetown’s MAGES program. Once accepted, Emami quickly settled into life on the Hilltop, where she found invaluable mentors and a close-knit community.
“When I was first admitted to the MAGES program, I was paired with Iris Thatcher, a fellow MAGES student, who graduated last spring to learn about SFS,” she says. “We spent a lot of days at Blue Bottle talking about the different opportunities SFS has to offer, class recommendations, and getting accustomed to life in D.C. I am forever grateful for Iris’ mentorship and friendship.”
While at Georgetown, Emami also crossed paths with professors who were pivotal to her academic success. Among them, she cites Dr. Diana Negroponte as someone who pushed her to think critically while Emami was a student in her class.
“Her class completely changed my perspective on conflict management as a foreign policy tool and inspired the topic for my capstone project” Emami emphasizes. “She is an incredible educator, but an even greater person who leads with kindness, grace, and conviction.”
Life on the Hill
Part of Emami’s rationale for choosing the MAERES program was rooted in Georgetown’s location in D.C. — the heart of international affairs scholarship and policymaking in the United States.
Emami was determined to take advantage of her proximity to leading politicians in the federal government. Her desire eventually came to fruition: during just two years at Georgetown, she interned for Senator Alex Padilla, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
In these positions, Emami gained valuable experience preparing policy memorandums, conducting legislative research and working alongside staff to oversee election security and protect voting rights.
Yet, above all, Emami admits that interning in the White House offered an opportunity like no other. “As the daughter of immigrants and a Californian, interning in Vice President Harris’s Office was so meaningful because of who she is and what she stands for,” Emami says. “One of the most empowering facets of the Biden-Harris Administration is its vision to build an administration that looks like the United States. When people ask me about my time as a White House Intern, the story of Vice President Harris is one I’ll be proud to tell.”
As she looks back on her time at SFS, Emami says that she feels a deep sense of gratitude.
In particular, she will leave Georgetown with fond memories of her peers and faculty in the MAGES department. “My MAGES cohort has been the most supportive space during my time here,” she says. “As a smaller cohort we are all able to interact with each other in a meaningful way. We also all take our program’s core classes together which really let us lean on each other and learn from each other.”
“I am a firm believer in embracing the unknown or the uncomfortable in order to really grow,” Emami says. “Each triumph and challenge pushed me further towards reaching my academic goals and potential in this program. I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that come with being an SFS student.”