Monday, February 29, 2016

SAIS DC Alumni Profile: Malikat Rufai, MA '13

For our first Alumni Profile, we interviewed Malikat Rufai, 2013 Johns Hopkins SAIS graduate who currently works as Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

While at SAIS, Malikat concentrated in Conflict Management. She earned her BA in International/Global Studies and French from Spelman College prior to attending SAIS.

Tell us about your current role. 
As Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, I am responsible for coming up with creative strategies to strengthen the bilateral relationship at the people-to-people level. This requires understanding what Vietnamese people want from a relationship with the U.S., and how to infuse more macro USG policy goals into my programming.

How do you think your experience at SAIS prepared you for this work?
I think that my experience at SAIS was hugely influential in my work. In order to be the most effective diplomat, you have to have an understanding of foreign policy, and the underlying goals beneath every project. That is even truer in public diplomacy, where the policy-relevance or your initiatives is critical, but like many soft power tools, may not be obvious. Further, Public Affairs Sections worldwide manage a great deal of money. I have never felt overwhelmed managing grants or programs, in part, I believe because SAIS gave me more confidence in my quantitative abilities.

Did you leverage the school’s network?
As a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, I was fortunate enough to already know that I was entering the Foreign Service after SAIS. However, I still took advantage of Career Services activities, and I’m grateful that I did. Skills ranging from networking to interviewing to leadership are so necessary in my daily work, and as the State Department is full of the “SAIS Mafia,” I entered with an invaluable network within the organization.

What advice would you give someone contemplating attending SAIS?
I would encourage prospective students to think about what they want out of their graduate degree. SAIS gave me the skills to evaluate policy and to think strategically that I felt were necessary to be successful not only in my career as a diplomat, but in any number of wonderful careers. The SAIS brand is a recognizable one, because it is a brand built on a practice of imbuing its students with marketable skills. Aside from what you can get from the institution however, what you get from your fellow students is even better. SAISers are some of the most supportive intellectuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and they were key to my experiences there.

Malikat (SAIS MA '13) managing SCOTUS Justice Ginsburg's visit to HCMC
Malikat leading a discussion with Vietnamese youth at the HCMC American Center on gender equality.
Malikat at the Department of State Headquarters in Washington, DC
Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

This Week at SAIS: February 29 - March 4

The events and speakers on campus are an important part of the SAIS student experience, adding another dimension to a SAIS education. Please find this week's SAIS events that are free and open to the public below.

Earlier this month, SAIS invited the public to participate in "The China Exit Interview," a panel discussion featuring China experts who recently returned to the U.S.

Monday, February 29
Race Relations in the United States: Dean Vali Nasr and Johns Hopkins SAIS invite you to a conversation on "Race Relations in the United States" with Robert C. Lieberman, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, The Johns Hopkins University. The talk will be moderated by SAIS Dean Vali Nasr. Register here.

Political Parties, Patrons, and Power Brokers: The Political Logic of Sectarian Violence in Punjab, Pakistan: Niloufer Siddiqui, PhD Candidate, Yale University will speak on this topic. Register here.

Tuesday, March 1
Unfinished Apologies: Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves of Wartime Asia:The US-Korea Institute at SAIS and Asia Policy Point invite you to attend a discussion on the unexamined and unresolved history of Imperial Japan’s system of sex slavery in wartime Asia. The panels will provide an overview of how the system came to be and how it was managed, discuss new research on the non-Korean Comfort Women, and bring the legacy of the Comfort Women system into contemporary understandings of conflict resolution and violence against women in warfare settings. Register here.

The Russia Challenge in 2016: The European and Eurasian Studies Program cordially invites you to a distinguished lecture and roundtable discussion with Dr. Celeste Wallander on "The Russia Challenge in 2016." Refreshments and appetizers will be served. RSVP required. Dr. Celeste A. Wallander is Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia on the National Security Council Staff.  Register here.

Wednesday, March 2
The Future of the Global Economy: Dean Vali Nasr and the Foreign Policy Institute invite you to "The Future of the Global Economy" with Dr. Paul Achleitner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank AG. The talk will be moderated by Dr. John Lipsky, Senior Fellow, SAIS Foreign Policy Institute.Register here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Breakfast with The Honorable Clifton R. Wharton, Jr

This past Tuesday, as part of Black History Month at Johns Hopkins SAIS, students had the opportunity to meet the Honorable Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. and discuss his latest book, Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer.

Dr. Wharton is the first African American to graduate from SAIS in 1948, and afterwards he received an MA and PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. Since that time, Dr. Wharton has led a distinguished career across various sectors. As his book title notes, he has been a pioneer in business, education, philanthropy, and foreign policy.

Wharton is the first African American to: head a Fortune 500 company (TIAA-CREF); serve as president of a major U.S. university (Michigan State University); chair a major foundation (Rockefeller Foundation), and serve as the U.S. Deputy Director of State.

We would like to thank Dr. Wharton, Dean Nasr, the Office of Alumni Relations, and all the students who attended.

To learn more about Dr. Wharton, visit the National Visionary Leadership Project.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

FAQs about SAIS Admissions Decisions

In our last post on checking your application status, we briefly addressed admissions decisions. Since decision day is quickly approaching, we'd like provide more details here. Please find our answers to some of the most common questions about admissions decisions below.

When will I receive my admissions decision?
For MA and MIEF applicants, decision day is March 11. For MIPP and GPP applicants, decision day is March 18. Please check your email account on your program's decision date, because you will receive an email notifying you that your decision is available to view.

How do I access my decision?
The only way to view your decision is via the online application system. You will receive an email notifying you when your decision is available to view. If you receive an offer, you will get an email from the Office of Financial Aid regarding your status of your financial aid application later that same day.   Unfortunately, we do not share decisions over the phone or via email. 

How do I know if my application is complete?
After the application deadline passes, we email all applicants to update them on their application status and missing materials. This year we sent all applicants up to three emails, and in some cases followed up via telephone as well. If your application was not completed, we encourage you to reapply next year.

I received an Offer of Admission. What do I do next?
This is very important, so please read on:

  • Respond to your offer. Non-fellowship recipients who receive an offer of admission must reply to our offer no later than April 20. Fellowship recipients must reply no later than May 1. All MIPP and GPP applicants must reply no later than May 1. 
  • RSVP for Open House. You will have the opportunity to find out what the SAIS experience is all about - from current students, alumni, faculty and staff. The SAIS Open House programs include forums on student life, faculty panels, a department lunch, student activities forum, and Question & Answer sessions on SAIS Europe and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. The 2016 Open House for Admitted Students will be held on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

I've been wait listed. What do I do next?
Applicants who are wait listed will be notified via the online application system. It's crucial that you check your email account and admission decision because if you don't respond, you won't stay on the wait list. We will expect you to respond by May 1.  And please note: we do not rank our waitlist.

I've been Denied. What do I do next?
We encourage applicants who've been denied to reapply for a future time of entry. For those considering this course of action, we offer reapplication interviews beginning in early June. For more information on reapplication interviews, email

How do I know if I will receive financial aid?
If you receive an offer, you will get an email from the Office of Financial Aid regarding your status of your financial aid application later that same day. 

Still have questions? Comment below.

Thanks for Reading!
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Lani Guinier Visits SAIS

One of the benefits of being at SAIS is getting to engage in discussions with pioneers across the international relations field. Just last week Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, joined us to discuss issues of race, gender, and democratic decision-making.

Lani Guinier was the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at the Harvard Law School.

This event was part of a month-long celebration of Black History Month. Throughout February, the SAIS Diversity Council, Africa Association, and school leadership will host educational, social, and community service programming to explore black culture, economic inequalities among minority groups, challenges and opportunities in international affairs.

If you couldn't make it out, there are plenty of other on-campus events happening this week for you to attend. Follow our "This Week at SAIS" blog series to get alerts on upcoming SAIS events that are free and open to the public.

A big thanks to Professor Guinier, and all those who participated!

Thanks for reading!
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

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Secretary John Kerry Speaking at SAIS

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This Week at SAIS: February 22 - February 26

If you're in the D.C. area this week, stop by the Johns Hopkins SAIS Washington campus to participate in one of our events. We especially encourage applicants who are in town to visit a class to attend: mingling with current students outside the classroom is another great way to network get a better feel for life at SAIS.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition will discuss the food marketplace Feb 23.

Monday, February 22
Russia's Foreign Policy: New Spheres of Influence? Two years into the conflict in Ukraine and five years into the war in Syria, Russian foreign policy looms larger than ever. Though sanctions have taken a toll, and relations with the West continue to weaken, President Vladimir Putin is doubling down on Russian influence in both Europe and the Middle East. With no end in sight, is a larger clash with the West inevitable? Former U.S. Ambassador John Herbst will discuss the topic. RSVP here.

China and the Global Financial System: A Clash of Civilizations? Dr. Scott Kennedy, director of the Project on Chinese Business & Political Economy, CSIS will speak on this topic. Please register here.

Tuesday, February 23
Strengthening Nutritious Food Systems: GAIN's Marketplace for Nutritious Foods:Bonnie McClafferty, Director, Agriculture and Nutrition at The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) will speak on GAIN's marketplace for nutritious foods. For more information, visit our Eventbrite.

Wednesday, February 24
Pioneers in Foreign Policy Panel with Black Professionals in International Affairs: A robust panel of pioneers in international development, security, and economics will discuss opportunities and challenges facing the black community in international affairs. The event will include participation by Ambassador Perkins, US Ambassador to South Africa during the apartheid. You can register here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your SAIS Class Visit

By February, many of us like to think the hard part of the admissions process is over. But in actuality, the most challenging part is just beginning. Soon admissions decision letters will begin filling your inbox, and you’ll be faced with the challenge of deciding which program to choose. One way to make your decision a bit easier is to experience the academic life at your top school firsthand.

Johns Hopkins SAIS is offering spring class visits now through April. Applicants, prospective students, and admitted students are invited to attend a class of their choosing. Search the class visit calendar to see what classes are available, register at least one week in advance, and review some of the tips below.

1. Prepare: Make a list of questions you want to ask, or topics you want to discuss with the people you’ll meet on the day of your visit. If the program coordinator sends you any classes materials in advance, make sure to read the materials and do a little research on the course topic to help put things into context for you.

2. Attend Admissions Open Office Hours: The Admissions Office is open for walk-in visits Monday through Friday, 2-5 pm. You can speak with an admissions officer or a current student.

3. Meet with a Current Student: While on campus, you might be interested in meeting with a student who was once in your shoes. If you would like to meet with a current student, email

4. Attend a Campus Event: Another thing to do your during visit is to attend one of our many on-campus events. While some events are limited to current SAIS students and/or alumni, many are open to the general public. To view upcoming events that you can attend, follow our “This Week at SAIS” blog series.

5. Meet with a Program Coordinator: Make an appointment to meet with the Program Coordinator of your intended concentration to discuss the program opportunities and highlights—including activities, courses, and trips—in more detail.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

This Week at SAIS: February 15 - February 19

If you're thinking about joining the SAIS community, you might be interested in attending some of our upcoming events. The events below are free and open to the public, and are a great opportunity for you to meet some SAIS students and faculty, as well as speakers across the international relations field. See if any of the below events interest you.

Tuesday, February 16

Gender, Work and Family in South Korea
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Rome Auditorium
The U.S.-Korea Institute at SAISs will provide an overview of gender research on South Korea as well as presentations of in-depth case studies on transnational parenting focused on elite education and gendered politics in the South Korean labor movement. Follow this link to RSVP.

Race, Class and Community: Democratizing Higher Education in America
4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., Kenney Herter Auditorium
Lani Guinier, the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will address issues of race, class, and community in this 90 minute discussion on February 16. You can RSVP here.

Wednesday, February 17

After Sanctions: Challenges Facing the Iranian Economy
12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m., Kenney-Herter Auditorium
Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department of the International Monetary Fund, will join Dean Nasr and several other Middle East scholars for this discussion. RSVP here.

Thursday, February 18

The Nordic Model - Will It Survive?
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Kenney-Herter Auditorium
Join the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS and the Secretary-General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten, on February 18th for a public discussion of the Nordic Model in the context of current global challenges. Please register here.

Thanks for reading!
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

Friday, February 12, 2016

What are the challenges facing U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East?

Last night’s taster lecture featuring Dean Vali Nasr was a big hit among our applicants—56 potential SAISers attended. Dean Nasr discussed the challenges facing U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East, and opened up the floor afterwards for a question and answer session. Applicants got a chance to participate in a SAIS lecture firsthand, meet potential classmates, and chat with the Director of Admissions.

Nearly 60 applicants discussed U.S. Foreign Policy with Dean Nasr February 11
Second-year MA student DaQuan Lawrence signing in attendees

For those of you who don’t know, the Office of Admissions hosts taster lectures throughout the year to give applicants and prospective students a chance to participate in a SAIS lecture and to meet each other.  If you didn’t get a chance to make it out, don’t fret: you can sit in on a classtake a tour of the campus, or meet an admissions officer or current student year round.

Questions? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading,
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SAIS Admissions Timeline 2016

So, you submitted your application, you've been checking your email account for application status updates, and now you want to know what happens next, right? Well, here's the scoop: We'll be releasing admissions decisions March 11 through March 18. Click here for the specific date you'll receive a decision. While you await the decision, familiarize yourself with our timeline.

Click to enlarge
Offer of Admission
You can access your admission decision via the online application system. You will  receive an email notifying you when your decision has been updated. If you receive an offer, you will get an email from the Office of Financial Aid regarding your status of your financial aid application.

Wait List
Those who are wait listed will be notified via the online application system. It's crucial that you check your email account and admission decision because if you don't respond, you won't stay on the wait list. We will expect you to respond by May 1.  We do not rank our waitlist.

We encourage applicants who've been denied to reapply for a future time of entry. For those considering this course of action, we offer reapplication interviews beginning in early June. For more information on reapplication interviews, leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!
Jessica, Admissions Coordinator

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Next Week at SAIS: February 8 - February 12

We have another big week coming up at SAIS. Students are back from winter break, and lots of events are going on around campus. If you’re in the DC area, you should definitely come to campus and check out one of the public events that interests you.

Dean Nasr will moderate The SAIS Rostov Lecture on International Affairs February 10.


Paul Goble on the Future of Post-Soviet Countries5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.- Kenney-Herter AuditoriumThis special forum, organized jointly with The Jamestown Foundation, will honor Paul Goble, eminent scholar and expert on the post-Soviet world. Paul will share with us his view on prospects of the states and people in this important strategic region, which includes the Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as the Baltic countries and Ukraine. Several of Paul's long-time friends, colleagues and professional associates will comment on his intellectual contribution to the study of these post-Soviet countries. Register here.


The Free Exercise of Religion in Our Time
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. -  Rome Auditorium/Reception
Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Yet in many seen and unseen ways its validity is challenged at the margins every day. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak about the importance of maintaining and protecting religious liberty in the international sphere. After his remarks he will field questions in an audience Q&A. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, please click here.

Building Peace, Security and Prosperity in Pakistan
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Kenney-Herter Auditorium
Dean Vali Nasr and the Foreign Policy Institute invite you to a discussion on "Building Peace, Security and Prosperity in Pakistan" with Senator Sherry Rehman, Founding Chair and serving President of the Jinnah Institute. Joining in discussion will be Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, SAIS Foreign Policy Institute and Dr. Daniel Markey, Senior Research Professor and Academic Director of Global Public Policy Program, SAIS. Please note that this event is off the record. No audio, video, transcription or digital recording is allowed. Click here for more info.

China’s Authoritarian Legality
4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. - The Bernstein-Offit Building, Room 736
Part of the SAIS Research Seminar Series in Politics and Political Economy, 2015-2016, being sponsored by International Political Economy at SAIS. Mary Gallagher, the speaker for this seminar, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. RSVP here.


Johns Hopkins SAIS Rostov Lecture with Dr. Lawrence Summers
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Kenney-Herter Auditorium
Dean Vali Nasr cordially invites you to attend The SAIS Rostov Lecture on International Affairs. Dr. Lawrence Summers, the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University, will be speaking on "US, China and the Global Economy." Dean Nasr will moderate the talk and a reception will follow the talk. The event is open to the public and media. Register here.


Low Oil Prices as Viewed by Oil and Gas Company CEOs
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - The Bernstein-Offit Building, Room 736J. Robinson West is a senior adviser with CSIS’ Energy and National Security Program. The former chairman of PFC Energy, he has advised chief executives of leading national and international oil and gas companies on corporate strategy, portfolio management, acquisitions, divestitures and investor relations. This event is off-the-record, but open to the public. Register here.


Social Living in the Old Kingdom
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Rome Auditorium
Leslie Anne Warden, Assistant Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Roanoke College, Dept. of Fine Arts will speak on this topic. Register here.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 1, 2016

SAIS Study Trips: India

One of the highlights of a Johns Hopkins SAIS education is the opportunity to participate in a study trip, which are sponsored by various academic departments, research centers, and student organizations.  Some trips happen during fall break or winter break, but the most common time for study trips is over the January/holiday break.

One such trip was this year's India trip, sponsored by the Latin American Studies program.  Ten SAIS students, under the direction of LASP professor Francisco González, traveled to Delhi and Mumbai to examine the growing economic, political, and diplomatic ties between India and various Latin American countries.

This study trip coincided with Johns Hopkins SAIS Dean Vali Nasr's visit to India, and trip participants were invited to attend an alumni even with Dean Nasr, held at the home of Johns Hopkins SAIS alum Jay Gulish, MA '96:

10 SAIS students at alumni event with Dean Nasr

Thanks for reading!

--Erin Skelly, Associate Director of Admissions