Thursday, November 10, 2016

Student Profile: Andrew Kovtun

We would like to share today a student spotlight featuring Andrew Kovtun, a second year Master of Arts student from Cleveland, Ohio who completed his first year of study in Bologna, Italy. Before coming to SAIS, Andrew served as a Political Affairs Intern at U.S. Mission to NATO. He speaks English, Russian, French, Spanish, Czech, and Ukrainian.

Name: Andrew Kovtun
Program: Master of Arts | Class of 2017
Concentration: International Development
Specialization: International Finance
Minor: Energy, Resources, and Environment

What do you see as beneficial about the opportunity to study in Bologna and Washington?
The Bologna campus in Italy definitely offers an intimate environment and atmosphere. Bolognese students are able to take advantage of their position in the heart of Europe to travel and get acquainted with one another on a deeper level. By the end of year in Bologna, one is bound to acquire several life-long friends and cannot escape knowing the entire graduating class. Thanks to several partnerships with European universities, students are able to build a network with a larger contingent of Europeans from Leiden University, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Sciences Po-Lille, and the University of Bologna while studying at the Bologna Center campus. In contrast, Washington, DC offers students the opportunity to intern at the large amount of multilateral institutions, think tanks, foreign embassies, and private sector corporations based in the city, something that Bologna students certainly lack access to while in Italy. The DC campus also offers a wide range of languages and resources; thanks to the recent partnership with Georgetown University, I am able to study Ukrainian--the language of my familial heritage--in an academic setting for the first time in my life.

Andrew and classmates in Palmero, Italy
What was the coolest trip you have taken with your peers?
My most memorable experience from my first year in Bologna was a trip I took with seven other SAIS students to Sicily during our spring break. We arrived in Palermo and proceeded to tour Monreale, Calatafimi, Castelvetrano, Agrigento, Syracusa, Noto, Catania, and Taormina by car over the course of the week. We saw unforgettable ancient Greek architecture, Byzantine and Norman cathedrals, and were hosted by endless kind Sicilians who sought to it that we were fed and satiated by the finest Sicilian cuisine. At the conclusion of our group trip, I ventured out to Malta by ferry from Sicily to explore the main island of Malta and its sister island Gozo on my own.

What has been your favorite SAIS course so far, and why?    
My favorite course at SAIS so far is the Urban Economics and Urban Policy in Emerging Economies course taught by Professor Mila Freire at SAIS DC. The course covers urban development around the world and explores the best practices and theoretical frameworks that enable successful, sustainable approaches to city planning and management. As a lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, I have always wanted to focus my development studies on the post-industrial transition that faces the American Rust Belt as well as the former industrial centers of Europe and the former Soviet Union. Participation in this course enables me to study in-depth the pathways of development that cities take during various stages of growth in order to determine how to apply past lessons to future challenges facing the development of cities that seek to become global centers of innovation and engines of economic growth.

Can you tell us about your concentration/degree program, and why you chose it?
I am concentrating my studies on International Development and International Finance while simultaneously pursuing a minor in Energy, Resources, and Environment as a Master of Arts student at SAIS. My academic interests center around multinational corporate governance, urban development, and the role of foreign direct investment on the development of liberal economic and political institutions in developing regions, such as Eastern Europe and West Africa. My long-term career interests lie in developing the infrastructure of post-communist countries. I hope to be able to engage in projects that use innovative financing structures to partner American investors with local industries. More specifically, I wish to develop the telecommunications and energy infrastructure in post-Soviet countries and francophone Africa because efficient, privately-managed, effectively-regulated energy and telecommunications infrastructure is a prerequisite for the emergence of modern economies. Thanks to the flexible and dynamic curriculum at SAIS, I am able to prepare myself for such a future career by taking courses in energy, finance, and various functions of development while learning the languages necessary to conduct business in the regions.

Visit to UN Security Council with classmates
Where are you interning?
I am currently interning at the International Development department of the Embassy of Australia in the United States. I assist with coordinating incoming Australian delegations with meetings at the World Bank, IMF, and other Washington-based development organizations. I also organize development and politics roundtable discussions at the Embassy of Australia for OECD-member embassy counterparts and draft diplomatic cables to Canberra that report on the latest developments in the spheres of diplomacy and development that affect Australian policy efforts. In addition, I assist Professor Mila Freire’s urban development research; I conduct comparative analyses of city development in emerging economies and will be creating a tool to navigate across cities data for easy comparisons of urban growth statistics.