Friday, January 18, 2013

Student Spotlight: Staci Raab

For this post, we’ve interviewed 2nd-year M.A. student Staci Raab.  Staci spent her first year at SAIS Bologna and is concentrating in Strategic Studies.  She graduated in 2008 from University of Virginia, where she double-majored in anthropology and music and minored in Spanish.  Prior to enrolling at SAIS, Staci taught English in Spain through the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture, and then in Jordan through Fulbright.
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You studied at SAIS Bologna for your first year.  What specifically attracted you to the Bologna Center?
After graduating from UVA in 2008 I spent a year living in Spain and I loved the European lifestyle. The idea of living in Europe again with opportunities to travel, experience new and different cultures and cuisines, all while pursuing a graduate degree was unbeatable. Not only did I travel all over Italy, but I also went to Tunisia, Spain, and Austria on weekends and short breaks. Plus I knew that I would have another year in Washington to do the internship and networking game, so it was a win-win.
What are some of the differences between the two campuses, and what do you see as beneficial about the opportunity to study in both Bologna, Italy and Washington, DC?
By virtue of size and location, the student body in Bologna is much closer than the one in DC. While there are more opportunities for travel in Bologna, there are more opportunities to engage in the think tank/ IR policy world in DC. Going to both campuses, you get the best of both worlds – interacting with all your classmates in Bologna regardless of concentration and forming close, lasting bonds and engaging in the community to network and explore in DC.
What did you do over the summer?  Did you do an internship?
Over the summer I worked in DC as a Goldman Fellow in the Office of Government and International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee. I wrote briefing papers, planned events, and helped prepare for the UN General Assembly in September. As part of the fellowship I went on a trip to Germany and interacted with high level diplomats in the DC area. Because they were based in DC I was even able to stay on part time through the semester and traveled with AJC to NY to take notes in bilateral meetings alongside the General Assembly in late September.
Tell us about some of the extracurricular activities you’re involved with at SAIS.
In Bologna I was co-chair of the Gastronomica Club and a member of the Defense and Intelligence Club. I went on a Career Services trip to Geneva, Switzerland and to the IAEA Staff Ball in Vienna Austria with many of my classmates. In DC I went on a leadership retreat to Quantico Marine Base and this coming spring break I’m headed to Vietnam for the International Staff Ride through the Strategic Studies Department. Plus, I’m working in admissions over the break to help pay for it all!
What are some of the courses you’ve taken and specific skills you’ve learned that will help you in your career?
I’m convinced that I would not have passed the Foreign Service Oral Assessment without learning how to write a policy memo from Ambassador Eric Edelman in his Iraq Wars class. While I’m not planning on working for the Economist anytime soon, after four econ classes, especially International Financial Markets with Professor Roger Leeds, I feel like I have a solid understanding of economics that provides depth to the analysis work that I do now.
Thanks for reading!
– Erin Skelly Cameron, Associate Director of Admissions
To read previous entries in our Student Spotlight series, please click here.