student Spotlight

July Student Spotlight with Rita Valkovskaya, MIA ‘19


This month's student is a highly accomplished individual who was selected for the American Councils program and received a Fulbright Hays and Boren scholarship. We discuss these honors, her interest in traveling to Central Asia, the Marxe Master of International Affairs program, and more.

Congratulations on being selected for the American Councils program and a Fulbright Hays and Boren scholarships. What are you excited to learn and accomplish?
I’d like to learn Farsi and to become immersed in Tajik culture. I am most excited by meeting and living with local Tajiks, learning the daily rules and habits. I value the opportunity to live and study outside of the US, and understand what types of challenges Tajiks face in daily life and daily matters of public policy. I think that this experience will help me understand the nuances of life in Central Asia and give me a broader global understanding.

In addition, learning Farsi and living in Central Asia will be helpful in refining my study focus, security in Central Asia. I hope to be able to use the insights and connections I make overseas in order to narrow down a Capstone research topic, and to direct my final thesis research once I return to the US.

Why did you decide to join the School's new MIA program? What are you most enjoying about it?
I joined the MIA program in the Fall of 2017 as a means to transition to the international affairs and public sectors field from a previous career in the fashion industry. Thus far, the program has been very helpful in defining my interest in Central Asia as I focused my class research and projects on exploring issues in Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. I have received support from Valeria Hymas, the Fellowship Director, in refining several applications for government fellowships aimed at language learning overseas, which was tremendously helpful to complete the applications. I also enjoyed learning from the excellent professors in the program, each of whom has a unique focus on and knowledge of a particular subject area, all useful in getting a more balanced view of US policy and international affairs.

What interests you about government security and international affairs? What sort of role do you envision yourself occupying in the future?
I find the security and diplomacy fields interesting because they will allow me to use my international background at work, and to continue to learn about the world during my work. I can continue to use the Russian language with which I grew up, and also put the newly learned Farsi to good use.

I look forward to one day working for the US Government, or public sector consulting, both fields that will allow me to contribute to public service. An ideal job would allow me to continue my regional and language knowledge through research and travel. I would like to connect these interests with public sector planning. Working in diplomacy, public sector consulting or in security are all opportunities I am currently exploring.