B.A., 2015, German Studies and Global & International Studies
The Diplomacy Lab (GIST 501) is a pilot program at KU led by Dr. John Kennedy, Director of the Center for Global & International Studies. The course allows students like senior Sara Anderson to conduct individual research while developing relations with the U.S. State Department.
"I am very interested in working for the Department of State," Sara, a German Studies and Global & International Studies double major, said, "so anytime I can get exposure to the State Department and make connections with people there, I take advantage of it."
Sara is researching the differing effects of parliamentary and presidential systems on economic development, particularly after the economic recession of 2008. She presents her progress to the State Department in monthly video conferences. She is also completing an e-internship with the Office of International Visitors within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department.
Sara grew up in a bilingual household, speaking both English and Swedish. Since they are both Germanic languages, studying German seemed like the next natural step for Sara. Her high school teacher brought Sara and her classmates to Schülerkongress (an event that the German Department hosts annually for high school students) every year. The teacher had connections at KU, so for Sara, attending KU was a natural choice.
One of Sara's favorite classes at KU was her Business German class that she took with Jim Morrison. Reading current news articles every day and learning useful vocabulary are skills that will come in handy if ever Sara finds herself working in Germany. "I took that class in connection with the German Department's internship program in Eutin, Germany, which was probably the most valuable experience I've had in college."
Prior to graduating, Sara had no doubt her training would see her through: "My classes have been challenging enough to where I felt that I really got something out of my education that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. The faculty have been so supportive in my endeavors, from writing me reference letters to letting me know about opportunities that align with my interests to just being there in their offices with an open door. I know I will be prepared for my future career and whatever life throws my way!"
She was right. A month after graduation, Sara joined Meridian International Center, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC, as a Special Projects Coordinator in the company’s Professional Exchanges Division. This division works primarily with the implementation of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a professional exchange program through the U.S. Department of State.