By Grace Krauser
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently announced the finalists for the 2018 Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program, including GSPIAns: Sarah Yeomans (MPIA, Security and Intelligence); Chelsea Buckwalter (MPIA, Human Security), and Christopher Troutman (MPIA, Security and Intelligence Studies). Representing an impressive and diverse set of interests and experiences, these GSPIAns have been selected as the best candidates for this flagship leadership development program.
After spending 5 years in France pursuing her undergraduate studies in Italian, management, and political science, Sarah began at GSPIA in 2014 as a part-time MPIA student. She works full-time as an Export Control Specialist for PPG Architectural Coatings, managing portfolios for clients around the world. Sarah made the most of her time at GSPIA by managing the student organization European Horizons (an organization for students interested in the EU and European affairs) and spent the summer of 2017 in Brussels, Belgium, where she studied EU institutions and policy through GPSIA’s study abroad program. Upon graduation, she will also receive the European Union Studies Certificate from UCIS.
“GSPIA gave me the confidence to apply to this prestigious program; without my GSPIA education I would have never thought myself capable of making it this far. That confidence comes from not only the course material but also from the great professors I have had.”
“I applied to PMF because I saw it as a chance to possibly work for the State Department, which is a career path that interests me greatly. I am interested in a career with a focus on Europe and transatlantic relations through organizations such as the EU and NATO, especially when it comes to NATO-EU cooperation. Working for a foreign policy think tank like Brookings or the Council on Foreign Relations or even for the State Department would give me that kind of opportunity.”
While Chelsea’s BS is in Finance, she also pursued a minor and French and Arabic as an undergraduate student. Chelsea’s passion for exploring language and culture led her to pursue international career interests as an EFL teacher in Spain and China, where she also attended Yunnan Normal University to study Chinese. Before starting at GSPIA in 2016, she also worked as international program assistant at University of Pennsylvania in the business school.
During her time at GSPIA, Chelsea has continued studying Chinese as a FLAS fellow along with pursuing her MPIA in Human Security. She commented that “When I started at GSPIA, I didn’t have a particular focus within the very broad field of Human Security. Through my coursework and interactions with professors, however, I was able to pinpoint the areas that I am most interested in and gain a better understanding of my future career path working on international migration and refugee issues as well as disaster management.”
This past summer 2017, Chelsea completed an internship with the Northern Area Multiservice Center (NAMS), a local refugee resettlement agency. She gained professional experience in her field by working directly with the reception and placement of newly arrived refugee families.
“I applied to the PMF because I’m interested in the opportunities it provides as a starting point for a career in public service, where I hope to continue to find ways to put my language skills to use.”
“In addition, my classes have taught me a great deal about the challenges that policy makers face as they confront critical societal issues. Most importantly, my professors have taught me how to think about these problems analytically and helped me to develop the skills necessary to work to address them.”
Before pursuing his MPIA in Security and Intelligence Studies at GSPIA, Christopher served in the United States Army from 1997 to 2010, completing several tours overseas and earning the rank of Sergeant First Class. Christopher then pursued a BA in History at Loyola Marymount University. During his time at GSPIA, Christopher has worked at the Ridgway Center as the lead on their nuclear proliferation working group. Upon graduation this spring, he looks forward to bringing academia's theoretical approaches to improve government effectiveness.
“There are a great many fellowships and scholarships out there for grad students and receiving information about PMF from (GSPIA Career Services) prior finalists made a big difference in how I approached application.”
“GSPIA has been an interesting experience; I've discovered many unknown unknowns. There is a multiplicity of theories presented in the academic study of International Relations of which many civil servants and policymakers might not be aware.”
The PMF Program is a great leadership training ground. Chelsea, Sarah, and Christopher will have the opportunity perform valuable service to the American people while jump-starting their professional careers. In addition to the benefits of working for the federal government, these GSPIAns will face challenging assignments and receive training and mentoring from top American officials.
GSPIA Career Services provides support to all GSPIAns interested in pursuing this fellowship. For more information on the fellowship, click here.