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Master of Arts in International Relations

Selected MA International Relations Student Profiles

Hulya Aksu


I attended Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey with a B.S. degree in Economics. After completing my undergraduate study, I attended the Business Studies Program at City of Westminister College in London, England. After graduation, I worked in the Fund Management departments of leading banks in Turkey. My experience in the banking sector was followed by working as a Sales Manager in the Istanbul office of Dow Jones Telerate, which is an American company providing real time information to financial markets. Before establishing my own company, my last post was working as a Country Manager of the Turkey Office in ISI Emerging Markets, which is an American internet-based information company. My business is to import laser skin care devices from Europe for sale in Turkey. I have decided to return to focusing on my academics toward the ultimate pursuit of a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations, followed by a career in Turkish government or corporate foreign affairs. It is said that “ leaving a part of you behind” is the main motivation of man’s existence.  In keeping with this edict, my hope is to make a contribution towards the improvement of contemporary Turkish society and humanity in general.

Hind Alghamedi


My undergraduate study was in English Literature, but I became interested in Global Affairs during my years of work experience. Specifically I was inspired to study International Relations during my work at the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, owned by one of the princes in Saudi Arabia. I was lucky to be involved in supporting projects aimed at poverty alleviation, disaster relief and women's empowerment. This experience has given me a unique perspective on intercultural communication. It was a rewarding experience, and I was inspired to pursue my M.A. in International Relations. I chose USD for its beautiful campus, location and recognition, in addition to its faculty and the small classes. The MAIR program is exposing me to a variety of fields including history, economics, and political science. I enjoy that the program involves travel courses, which will help me develop a better understanding of different areas of the world and the nature of interaction between people. My future objective is to learn the skills necessary to promote global understanding, prosperity, and peace and security, especially in the Middle East.

Sheldon Anderson

SheldonAndersonI've lived in San Diego since I was 8 years old so I'm basically a native, even though my athletic loyalties remain in Boston. I grew up living and breathing baseball and soccer, making me a die-hard fan of the Boston Red Sox and Manchester United. I also support the English national team. I continued to develop skills in multiple sports, with the most recent being scuba diving. As far as school, I absolutely love learning and have a genuine curiosity for just about everything. I did my undergraduate work at San Diego State in History and wrote an undergraduate thesis on the ramifications of international trade in Alta California leading up to the Mexican-American War. In trying to write a comprehensive thesis, I looked at the economic, social, psychological, historical, and political effects of the commerce. It was this thesis, my love for travel and the aspiration to aid the global community in conflict resolution that brought me to the MAIR program. My geographic interests are Western Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia with issues ranging from international law to globalization. Upon graduation, I would like to pursue a career in the intelligence field, Foreign Service or federal law enforcement.

Luke Beckmann

LukeBeckmann A native of Maryland, I received two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Government & Politics and History from the University of Maryland – College Park in 2010.  As an undergraduate, I was engaged in public policy and partisan politics both in the classroom and through internships on Capitol Hill.  Furthering my interest in international affairs, I studied in London in spring 2009, taking courses in British politics and European history while interning with a Member of Parliament in Westminster.  After graduation, I worked in small business advocacy as a legislative assistant for the National Federation of Independent Business in their Washington, D.C. office.  Starting the MAIR program in fall 2012, I have focused on expanding my knowledge in non-Western regions of the world that have rising political and economic importance in international relations.  After graduation from USD, I hope to return to Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill and continue my work in public policy and government affairs.

Jennings Brieck

I received my B.A. from University of California, San Diego in History and feel lucky to be able to stay in San Diego. As a San Diego native it is hard to leave, but it isn't just the scenery that keeps me. The proximity to the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace at USD allows one to study with a top notch Peace program along with a highly distinguished International Relations faculty and program, providing a boost ahead of the game as global politics increases focus on promoting peace. My background prepared me for the rigors of study here at USD. I had the opportunity to be published as an undergrad in various policy journals and lived and studied in India. Working with Japanese politician and renowned historian Masahide Ota for his Peace Research Institute based in Okinawa was especially helpful in preparing for the IR program. I plan to use my education toward a career at the State Department working in the Foreign Service field, and I know that USD will have prepared me for the world of International Relations

Paige Bryant

PaigeBryant I am from Amarillo, Texas and am a recent graduate of Ole Miss where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with minors in French, Business, and International Studies. Moving to Italy for a summer commenced my passion for global affairs, and studying abroad in France in the spring of 2011 only confirmed this passion. Watching the beginning of the Arab Spring unfold from the perspective of the nation and students of other nationalities surrounding me fueled my desire to enter the MAIR program and further my knowledge and experience in the international relations field. Upon earning my degree, I would like to pursue a career that allows me to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and conflict between nations and people in the form of diplomacy.

Yu Chao

I received my B.S. at Seton Hall University's John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations. After spending six years in the United States Army, my academic interests include development work, democracy building, and the establishment of strong rule of law.I am currently studying part-time while serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Just in Time for Foster Youth, a local non-profit here in San Diego dedicated to helping transitioning foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and real well being. I hope to use this experience and knowledge to start a career with either the State Department or USAID and eventually develop and manage capacity building projects in developing counties.

Gloria Chiu

GloriaChiuI was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, growing up to learn and love a variety of sports interests, including martial arts, ice skating, snowboarding, and dirt-biking. I currently live in Carlsbad with my beloved English bulldog. I attended Washington University in St. Louis for my B.A. in History, and earned my M.B.A. from California State University San Marcos. I work full-time as a Marine stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. My academic interest in International Relations is bound to my professional interests. My professional ambition is to advise intelligently on overseas missions, specifically in Southeast Asia.

Leticia Corona

I attended the University of California, Berkeley where I double majored in Social-Cultural Anthropology and Chicano Studies. In 2009, I conducted an independent field research in Zinacantan at the Autonomous University of Chiapas. The title of my research paper is Indigenous Women Artisan Cooperatives as an Alternative Income Source: Fair Markets for Women Cooperatives in Chiapas, Mexico. In 2010, as a McNair scholar at UC Berkeley I returned to Chiapas, Mexico to conduct a study on organic coffee production by small-scale indigenous “campesinos” (peasant farmers). In the summer of 2012, I interned with Prospera, a social venture group that helps micro-enterprises develop innovative ways of doing business in Guadalajara, Mexico. I co-designed and executed the first volunteer program for corporations interested in Corporate Social Responsibility. For the past year and a half I have been working at the U.S.-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership supporting the development of the Border Philanthropy Partnership’s new data project, “The U.S.-Mexico Data Collaboration Project.” Currently, I’m interning at the Trans-border Institute working on issues related to Sustainable Economic Development in the San Diego-Baja California region. I chose the MAIR program because I wanted to expand my critical understanding of the impact of globalization and how it has influenced economic challenges for small-scale peasant farmers, especially coffee producers in Mexico. My career goal is to work in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in D.C. where I can work in helping develop effective solutions to establish more fair agricultural labor laws and trade across borders.

Amy Craig

AmyCraig I graduated from Loyola University in Chicago with a double major in Secondary Education and History and minors in Political Science and Peace Studies. My main interest is in human rights, particularly with the use of child soldiers and (female/women's) education. At Loyola, I co-founded the student organization, Invisible Conflicts, and its sister organization, the Dwon Madiki Partnership, an educational program in Northern Uganda. In the summer of 2007, I traveled to Northern Uganda to launch the Dwon Madiki Partnership. It was due to my experiences in Northern Uganda that I became interested in the international relations aspect of human rights and knew I wanted to pursue a career in the not-for-profit sector. In 2010 I moved to San Diego with my husband, who is in the Navy, and I decided USD was a good fit. I really enjoy the flexibility of the program, its small class sizes, and the many international opportunities available to us.After graduating from USD, I hope to pursue a career with a non-profit that works with either former child soldiers or refugees.

Kelsey Duckstad

KelseyDuckstadI grew up in San Diego, CA and attended University of California, Irvine as an undergraduate.  During my time at UC Irvine, I was an active member and officer in Kappa Kappa Gamma, and also worked for student housing. My senior thesis focused on opium interdiction in Afghanistan and was awarded the Harry Eckstein Prize for Outstanding Senior Thesis in spring of 2012. I graduated with honors in December 2012 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Archaeology. When I’m not studying or working, I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, attending sports games, and watching scifi tv shows. Attending USD is a very exciting opportunity for me and I really enjoy the small class sizes and challenging curriculum. After earning my MA, I hope to pursue a career in intelligence or in the US national security community.

Larry Duran

LarryDuran I attended the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Political Science in 2009.  Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I went on to complete the accelerated paralegal program, also located at the University of California, San Diego, in 2009. My region of focus is Latin America, specifically with an interest in international development, including human rights, education, and other socioeconomic issues.  For over three years, I have been employed as a paralegal with the world’s leading corporate immigration law firm, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy, LLP.  Working with the nation’s leading immigration attorneys, I provide assistance to both individual as well as large corporate clients in relation to immigration matters, including employment based nonimmigrant visa petitions, immigrant petitions, adjustment of status applications, outstanding researcher and EB-1 petitions, and PERM applications. Upon completion of the M.A. in International Relations program, I intend to serve with the Peace Corps in South America or work with an international organization, with a continued emphasis on US – Latin American relations.

Taylor Fee

TaylorFee I am originally from Chino Hills, CA and received my undergraduate education at the University of California, Irvine with a double major in Political Science and International Studies, graduating in December 2010. During the summer of 2010 I was a legislative intern for both State Senator Bob Huff and State Assembly member Curt Hagman. My main interests throughout my time at UC Irvine, and currently, are national security, foreign policy, and comparative politics, specifically involving the Southeast Asian region. Since starting the program in Fall 2012, the courses I have taken have furthered my interest in global energy politics and international negotiations. I chose USD and their M.A. in International Relations Program because of the special attention that each student receives from the distinguished faculty, in addition to the various travel opportunities available. I hope to use my education and skills to continue on into the private sector or as an analyst in the international relations field.

Carlos E. Gonazalez Juanes

CarlosGonzalezI am originally from Mexico and am a Mexican citizen. I attended Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. I also received my M.B.A. from Pennsylvania State University. I worked as a banker for many years prior to joining the M.A. in International Relations program in 2012. During my work as a banker I held different executive positions in the areas of corporate credit, credit workout, finance and administration. My hobbies include biking and reading. I am also an opera fan. My interests entail immigration, particularly concerning Latin American countries. I selected the MAIR program at USD due to the flexibility offered by the program allowing students to choose the courses best suited to their preferences. My future plans are to apply my knowledge and interests in immigration and Latin America and work for a multilateral institution or Non-Governmental Organization.

Annie Hoffman

AnnieHoffman I was born and raised in San Diego. I attended San Diego State University for my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a double minor in International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR) and Industrial/Organizational Psychology, graduating in May 2011. I love to travel, studying abroad in Italy in 2010 and more recently in various European countries through courses with the M.A. in International Relations program. I love cooking and trying new recipes with my friends and family. I'm not a huge outdoors person, but hiking is my newest hobby. The University of San Diego has allowed me the opportunity to meet a lot of really amazing people between classmates and guest speakers. I plan to finish my degree this winter, and my future goals would be to work for the UN or in a field related to conflict resolution.

Adam Link

AdamLinkI am originally from Evansville, Indiana and attended Ball State University (Muncie, IN) where I received my B.A. in Anthropology (cultural) with a minor in Japanese. While at Ball State I spent a summer doing research in Lunca, Ilvei, Romania regarding the use of emerging technologies in the local community. Following my undergraduate studies I moved to Indianapolis where I worked in the management for a local company. In 2008 I switched career trajectory commissioning as a Marine officer. As an active duty Marine I have spent time in numerous countries throughout south Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. My personal interests in International Relations are a natural extension of my daily, and reflect the small regional conflicts that seem likely to continue to draw US interest. On a personal note, I am a dedicated homebrewer, winemaker, and general beer nerd.

Jorge Lison

JorgeI was born in Madrid, Spain and obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM) in 2011. I am an avid traveler and lived and studied in Canada in 2004, South Africa in 2006, and Malaysia in 2007. During my undergraduate career, I had a multitude of work experience, working for the American Field Service (AFS), the Marketing Department of LG Electronics Headquarters in Madrid, and the Marketing Department of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. I am Fluent in Spanish and English and am highly interested and skilled in web programming, computer networking and database management.  Pursuing an M.A. in International Relations is the next step in fulfilling my dream of a career in international politics and diplomatic negotiations.


Tyler McKnight

I am originally from Fairfax Station, VA.  I completed my undergraduate education in 2006 at Villanova University where I receive my B.A. in Political Science.  After college I joined the United States Navy and was selected to join the aviation community.  In the summer of 2012, I was transferred to San Diego and decided to use my time here in San Diego to pursue a M.A. degree in International Relations at the University of San Diego.  In the future I intend to continue my career in the military or work in foreign relations field.  

Ruben Orosco

RubenOroscoI was born in San Diego, CA and grew up in Carlsbad, CA.  Upon completing high school, I went to the University of Southern California for my B.S. in Public Administration and then to Syracuse University for my Masters in Public Administration.  Following my education, I worked as a management consultant focusing on change management for Accenture and then as a manager for AT&T where I worked in the areas of sales, operations and regulatory issues relating to all products and services.  During my time with AT&T, the attacks of 9/11 took place that prompted me to join the U.S. Coast Guard.  In the ten years since I have joined I have worked on implementing new homeland security measures, maintaining the mobilization and deployment readiness of the Reserve forces in the Pacific Region and serving as a military aide to a Flag Officer.  After many years in the private sector and the military, I have returned to school to pursue a career with the State Department, which will integrate both my professional and personal passions of public policy and international engagement.

Alexandra Perez

I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. In May of 2011, I graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Security and Conflict Resolution as well as a minor in French. Although I do not have a specific career goal at this point in time, I am interested in foreign policy, diplomacy, and food security. I joined the M.A. program in International Relations at USD because I believe the program will not only allow me to narrow my focus and interests, but also because it will prepare me for a career in international or governmental affairs.

Lais Ribeiro

I am originally from Cidade Gaucha, Brazil. I am trilingual in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I graduated in 2011 from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with an emphasis in Southwest Asia. While at Santa Barbara, I was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Global brigades and other organizations on campus. I spent the last year as an English and Portuguese teacher in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While there I traveled around South America embracing other cultures. I have a passion for cooking and enjoy doing any physical activity, such as hiking and playing sports. After graduating I plan on moving abroad to work at a Brazilian embassy, preferably in a country I have not lived in or visited. I am excited to be attending USD and look forward to furthering my education here.

Rebekah Saxon

I was born and raised in Walnut Creek, CA, the youngest of three, and the only girl.  I have no military history in my family, which is why my parents found it surprising when I joined the Navy ROTC program at Oregon State University. I attended Oregon State University from 2002-2006 graduating with a degree in International Business and International Economics. I was lucky enough to study abroad in Aarhus, Denmark which really ignited my interest in the world market. In January of 2007 I was commissioned in the United States Navy and was on my way to begin flight school in Pensacola, Florida.  In September of 2008 I was winged as a United States Naval Aviator and was on my way to San Diego to begin my time as a MH-60S pilot.  I have done two deployments to the Middle East and am currently on my shore tour based at the HSC Weapons School at NAS North Island.  During the next couple of years I have decided to take advantage of my shore tour and continue my education in a direction that I have always found very interesting, international relations.  So far I am really enjoying getting back into the classroom and experiencing the masters program at USD.  I can’t wait to take advantage of the travel opportunities provided and make some amazing new connections.

Sara Sharif

I am a San Diego native, and I graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2012. I spent the next year as an intern and analyst trainee for the global intelligence firm, Stratfor. While there, I focused my attention mainly on monitoring developments in Latin American politics. Because of this experience, and the fact that I am fluent in Spanish, I am very interested in Latin America. I also have a great interest in the Former Soviet Union region and plan to develop further research in this arena. I am excited about my time at USD and hope to use my education to further my goal of working in the intelligence field.

Danielle Tackoor

DanielleTackoorI am a native of Southern California and moved up North to attend Gonzaga Universty where I received my B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History. As an undergrad I became interested in women's rights around the world and focused that passion to the treatment of women in the Middle East. After graduating in 2013 I worked at a non-profit organization showcasing the impact microloans has on women around the world. In my free time I enjoy paddle boarding, yoga, and swimming. Upon graduation I hope to continue advocating on behalf of women around the world and pursue a career with the Foreign Service or with USAID.


James Thomas

JamesThomasI am originally from Annapolis, Maryland but also spent a portion of my childhood living abroad in Japan.  I graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia with a degree in Geography and Computer Science in 2005 and worked in a related capacity for the Department of Defense until spring of 2006.  At that point, I joined the Navy and attended Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida.  I stayed on the gulf coast for about two years before finishing flight school and moving to San Diego in 2008.  I’m currently assigned as an MH-60S helicopter instructor pilot at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, CA.  I chose to attend the University of San Diego after meeting with the faculty and speaking with former students and hearing about their overwhelmingly positive experiences in the MAIR program.  I am looking forward to studying the interaction between governmental (including military) and non-governmental organizations during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. 

Jason Vandewarker

I grew up in a small rural town in the gold country east of Sacramento, California.  I attended Biola University in La Mirada, CA, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006. In college I spent two summers in Asia, and two summers driving through the Western United States. I currently live in Escondido with my wife and 2 young sons. I am a music snob, beer nerd, and clinical bibliophile. I read too many comics books and know a borderline embarrassing amount of information about Lost. In the international relations field I am interested in United States security and foreign policy, the Middle East, and Asia. I chose USD because of its excellent reputation and small class sizes. I love the flexibility and wide range of class choices that the M.A. in International Relations Program gives.

Eric Wey

EricWey I am from Colleyville, Texas and attended the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. As an undergraduate at UNT I was on the policy debate team my freshman year, and worked with the local high school as an assistant debate coach. I chose to pursue a graduate degree at the University of San Diego because of the excellent faculty and San Diego’s great atmosphere. My academic interests include international security and nuclear weapons policy. I am an avid Texas Rangers fan, and enjoy both playing and watching baseball. My professional ambitions following the program include pursuing a career in either intelligence or federal law enforcement.

Jeremiah Young

Born and raised in San Diego, I began my academic career at the University of California, San Diego as a member of the Bio-Engeneering - Pre Med program. However, after taking my first class in Political Science, I fell in love with the subject and decided to transfer to the University of San Diego where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations and formed great relationships with the faculty in the department. In 2007, I filmed and directed the documentary film "To Build a Home" which focused on the rebuilding effort in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; in 2008, I worked with The Center for Democracy and Human Rights focusing on internet censorship and circumvention in the Middle East; and in 2010 formed a non-profit research, analysis and social development organization which I currently direct. My focuses include, national and international security, social development, and international business. I look forward to working with USD and other members of the M.A. in International Relations program in deepening my understanding of global politics and applying what I have learned to addressing the complex issues facing our society today and in the future.

Robert (Bobby) E. Zubeck II

RobertZubeckI received my undergraduate education at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. I am currently an FRS instructor pilot for the U.S. Navy at NAS North Island and I joined the M.A. in International Relations program in 2012. I chose USD because of the great relationship that the University has with the military and the outstanding reputation of the International Relations program. I hope to be able to use my Masters degree in the future while serving in the U.S. Navy.