Friday, January 4, 2013

Student Spotlight: Kari Hatcher

For this post, we’ve interviewed Kari Hatcher, a Rangel Fellow and second-year SAIS M.A. student concentrating in Energy, Resources and Environment.  Kari graduated from Spelman College in 2008 with a BA degree in International Studies, and worked at the State Department prior to enrolling at SAIS.
What made you consider a career in the U.S. Foreign Service?
I worked at the State Department in Washington, D.C. for almost two years before beginning SAIS. While there, I had the opportunity to work closely with several Foreign Service Officers every day. Their passion for their jobs really peaked my interest in the foreign service, which I first learned about in college from the diplomat in residence. After beginning to work full time, I had a better gauge of what type of career would best suit me and I was attracted to the foreign service because of the variety inherent in our careers, which requires fast thinking, resourcefulness and ingenuity. Moreover, I’m very interested in exploring and learning about different cultures.
When considering graduate school, what was appealing about SAIS?
I chose to attend SAIS because I wanted to strengthen both my quantitative and qualitative analysis skills. Unlike most schools of International Affairs SAIS places a strong emphasis on economics, which was very important to me. Furthermore, SAIS offered an Energy, Resources and Environment concentration that is extremely practical and relevant. I was also attracted to the focus on a professional education at SAIS with many adjunct professors that simultaneously work in the public, private and multilateral sectors. SAIS also has a very active student body with student’s from a variety of backgrounds that offer a wealth of experiences.
Tell us about your concentration and why you chose it.
My concentration is Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE), which focuses on the pressing energy and environmental issues the world is facing such as climate change, sustainable urban planning and electrification in developing countries. I chose ERE because the topics are fascinating and extremely relevant and important. Moreover, I have always had a strong interest in environmental issues and being able to study theses topics from a wider lens at SAIS was very important to me. SAIS also offers a wide array of courses in the ERE concentration that prepare students for a variety of jobs in every sector. Moreover, the department offers many relevant activities outside of the classroom such as local field trips, international trips and sponsored speakers, which nicely augment class teachings.
How has the support of the Charles B. Rangel Fellowship helped realize your dream of studying at SAIS and working in international affairs?
The Charles B. Rangel fellowship has supported my desire to work in international affairs by providing me with financial support, mentoring and relevant training. The Rangel fellowship placed me with a mentor who is a senior foreign service officer who has helped me navigate class selections at SAIS and also provides me with invaluable advice concerning the foreign service. Moreover, the Rangel fellowship provides an internship between the first and second years of graduate school, which I completed at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo summer 2012. Working in the Environment, Science, Technology and Health unit of the Econ section nicely complemented my studies at SAIS by providing me with an opportunity to utilize information I had obtained in school in a practical setting. Furthermore, the skills and information I acquired during my internship, such as resourcefulness and organization, have been very useful in my second year at SAIS.
How do you see the SAIS degree helping you career-wise?  What are some of the courses you’re taking and skills you’re learning right now that will help you in your professional career?
My SAIS degree will help with my future career endeavors by improving my time management skills and resourcefulness. Attending SAIS has also pushed me outside of my comfort zone and peaked my interest in a variety of topics, which will be beneficial for any future professional endeavors. Moreover, studying at SAIS has improved my technical knowledge of economics and energy. SAIS has also required me to be able to read and synthesize large quantities of information that I can then summarize effectively for memorandums or briefings, which is an invaluable skill for the foreign service. I took international financial markets and policy to drive energy innovation this past semester, which both were very interesting and informative. I learned a lot in both classes and I believe they will be invaluable in my future endeavors.
If you are interested in learning more about the Rangel Fellowship Program, you can visit the program website here.  If you’re interested in applying for Fall 2013, don’t delay - their application deadline is January 18, 2013.
Thanks for reading!
–Erin Skelly Cameron, Associate Director of Admissions