Global Studies Alumni
Curious about where a Global Studies major could take you after St. Lawrence? Read some of these experiences that Global Studies Alumni have had, and how Global Studies helps prepare students for innovating, exciting, and challenging opportunities.
Xaviera Gitau (Shiko)
Shiko hails from Nairobi, Kenya, and graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2017 with a double major in both Government and Global Studies. After she graduated, Shiko interned at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. and at a startup back in Nairobi. Knowing full well she wanted an impactful career, she pursued her graduate degree at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. While at the Elliott School, Shiko studied abroad at the prestigious SciencesPo in Paris, France, and interned at IREX and World Vision International. Shiko is now working at Chemonics International, as a Senior Associate in the Innovation, Knowledge and Outreach team in the Executive Division. Her global studies degree gave her the foundational knowledge of many international relations theories, as well as their shortcomings, and gave her the critical thinking skills that help her to this very day. Working with her professors to complete extensive research papers and presentations on current world issues, opened her eyes to the possibilities of finding impact-driven jobs in international development.
I am currently working at EF Education First, an international education company, in our Educational Tours division, dedicated to working with middle and high school teachers to bring their students abroad, and broaden their cultural horizons. Our goals are to increase leadership, confidence, and understanding for all our travelers, and help them bring those lessons back to their communities.
At present, my role is Tour Preparation Coordinator for our Tour Production team, which is responsible for all logistics pieces prior to tour, ensuring that all details are buttoned up so things run smoothly on the ground!
This role has allowed me to travel abroad to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Budapest, Prague, Athens, Florence, Rome, and everywhere in between, and my Global Studies major has made me more knowledgeable in running our business sustainably and sensitively to diverse cultures, and more integrally to set our customers' expectations so their experiences are all the more fruitful despite potentially never having come across someone of a different skin tone, language, or background from their own!
I graduated from St. Lawrence with a degree in Global Studies with a concentration in Latin American Culture and Environmental Studies. In October, 2014 I moved to Queenstown, NZ for one year to work and travel abroad. I got to visit Australia, Indonesia and Thailand that year. Then, I backpacked throughout Central America for 4 months.
Upon returning home, I started working at the American Institute for Foreign Study in Stamford, CT. I work in the Au Pair division, bringing young women from 55 different countries to the USA to live and care for children. They also attend American universities as part of the program. I enjoy my work because it is in the cultural exchange industry and it allows young women from other countries to travel to the USA, better their english, make new friends and experience American culture through living with a host family. It also provides them more career opportunities upon returning to their home country.
I have always been curious about the world we live in and found that through travel, I could observe culture, practice a foreign language and learn how other people live. In college I studied abroad in Vina del Mar, Chile and did research for my senior thesis. The topic I presented on was the impact of hydroelectric projects in Patagonia and their effect on indigenous populations.
I loved my Global Studies courses at St. Lawrence because they taught me how to think critically, understand the impact of culture on a society, and consider the complex dynamics of global politics. I am so grateful for my educational background as it has impacted my decisions to travel, work in cultural exchange and be globally aware.
I was an AmeriCorps VISTA for a journalism mentoring program in Boston, then stuck around at a microfinance nonprofit, Accion International, for about four years in both training and communications roles. I worked in training again at Commonwealth Financial Network before packing up my life and thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. I now live in Seattle, and work at The Seattle Times supporting the Executive Editor and the VP of Product, Innovation and Development. I do some administrative work but also focus on internal communications for both departments, The Seattle Times internship program, and the newsroom's mentorship program. I've also managed to keep traveling, often with other SLU alumni, to Ethiopia, India, the UK, and Turkey (to name a few places). I credit John Collins and my experience as part of the class that founded The Weave for really piquing my interest in independent media and journalism. When I studied abroad in London, I interned at a magazine called Red Pepper, and that fostered a love of independent media as well.
During his undergraduate career, Ben was president of Beta Theta Pi and a member of numerous campus initiatives, serving as a writer for The Weave and a tutor at the Language Resource Center. With Dr. Collins as a mentor, he produced a collaborative, multi-disciplinary honors thesis examining the environmental, economic and political impact of renewable energy development, specifically utility scale hydro-power, in southern Patagonia's Aysen region. His report found ecological, cultural and economic damage linked directly to the proposed power generation project, which was later suspended by the Chilean government after a series of highly public, and contested, legal battles. He has always been interested in clean energy technology and global power markets, but decided to defer for a year after graduation and ski tour across New England, working for The North Face in their marketing division. While there, he developed several supply chain initiatives around sustainability and product life-cycle recovery for the East coast operating division. He then moved to the oil and gas industry, joining The Cadmus Group as an analyst. In this consulting role, he worked on several high-profile projects, including an underground carbon injection control and hydraulic fracturing assessment for the U.S. E.P.A. in Helena, Montana, which was later published by the agency. He spearheaded smaller projects including electric vehicle battery charging audits and financial resource modeling for the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2016, Ben transitioned away from the oil and gas industry, and took a job in Boston at the renewable energy consulting firm, Altenex LLC, with two other St. Lawrence alumni. Altenex serves as an adviser to Fortune 1000 corporations and universities who intend to purchase utility-scale wind and solar power for their energy portfolios. Ben works on the development team and designs renewable energy playbooks for new customers. He also runs operations and advisory for Altenex customers in the new Mexico wholesale energy market. In his free time, Ben is a ski patroller at Waterville Valley, NH and maintains an active connection to his alma mater.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you the global studies major is for people that don’t know what to do! We know exactly what we’re interested and what we’re passionate about. I looked at all of the majors and didn’t feel drawn to any of them until I looked at the Global Studies major. It was the perfect balance of cultural studies and research.
I was intent on going to graduate school and pursuing a PHD in African-American History. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t get into any of my programs. Not a single one! Of course I cried but I was mostly embarrassed that people would know that I failed at something. I applied to be a New York City Teaching Fellow and was admitted to the program. I taught special education social studies in the Bronx while getting a masters in the art of teaching. Yes it was hard! Most days sucked. But sometimes you have to do things you don’t want, to get to where you want to go. So I finished, and it was the most challenging experience I ever had. My students taught me so much and I’ve carried those lessons from every opportunity I’ve had thus far.
Even still, I was unhappy. Nothing about the work I was doing was fulfilling and so I knew it was time to leave. I applied to be a residence life coordinator at St. Lawrence University. What was the appeal?! Well, for starters, I wouldn’t have to pay for rent or groceries. Rent in New York City is ridiculous. The workload was easy, the students were great, and I was happy. It was cool for a couple of months but then I started to get bored. Then I got really really bored! It just wasn’t enough for me. I was creating work for myself to make the job more meaningful. I found that I spent most of my time coaching my students academically and professionally. So I applied for a different opportunity; assistant director of career services at SLU. Did I have a ton of experience? Nope! Was I passionate about student growth and achievement? Yes! And because of that I was hired in the spring of 2017! I am happy, fulfilled, and never bored.
Your story is your own. Write it however you choose to do so! Also, start saving money now!
I graduated from SLU with honors in both Global Studies and Sociology in 2008. While pursuing my degrees, I was always interested in cultural heritage and preservation and the institutions that support greater understanding and sustainability of cultural heritage. I went on to receive my Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2010, after which I moved to Washington, DC and worked for two years in fundraising at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center.
Since 2012, I have been working at the Smithsonian Institution in the Office of Advancement. The Smithsonian just concluded its first-ever campaign in 2017, raising $1.88 billion—the largest amount ever raised in a campaign by a cultural organization. As a quasi-federal agency, the Smithsonian relies on private support to bridge the gap between its federal appropriation funds and what it needs to offer and expand educational programming, to grow its collections and exhibitions, and to fund its research. This was a very exciting time to join an organization I’d always admired and that fit so well with my interests, education and experience!
Currently I am Special Projects Manager, supporting the administrative operations of the Smithsonian’s central fundraising office through budgeting projects, professional development programming, and business analysis. My work and that of my department combines my studies at SLU and in my masters program with my interests to support the amazing mission of the Smithsonian museums, research centers and programs to preserve cultural heritage, discover new knowledge and to share it all with the world.
The Global Studies Department at St. Lawrence prepared me for work as an educator in the twenty-first century. I believe that this major achieves exactly what is listed in the curriculum description and learning goals. Issues of race, class and gender consistently surface as the most apparent indicators of difference in modern society. As such, this major seeks to examine and engage those topics in a meaningful way. The Global Studies program at SLU provided me with a useful lens through which to view and interact with these issues in local and global communities.
The interdisciplinary approach informed by theory and cultural studies has proven to be a phenomenal building block in my professional career. The research process and much of the content from the Theory and Methods course continue to be of use to me, especially as I pursue a Master’s in History at Villanova.
The work that I did at SLU and my experiences on and off campus routinely factor into my classroom teaching and graduate work. I am thrilled to be a product of the SLU Global Studies Department and would be happy to speak with any current majors about independent school opportunities and other work experience.
While studying at St. Lawrence University as a Global Studies major, I spent two weeks in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico for a summer course offered by CIIS, and then spent the spring of my junior year studying abroad in Spain. For my honors SYE, I analyzed the migration patterns between the US and Mexico, specifically focusing on the plight of Hispanic migrant dairy farm workers in St. Lawrence County, New York. My Global Studies courses both on and off campus significantly heightened my awareness of and desire to combat injustices and inequalities on both an individual and structural level. This inspired my decision to commit a year of service after graduation and serve as an AmeriCorps member for City Year, an education nonprofit that provides academic and social emotional support as well as extracurricular enrichment in low- income schools throughout the US. I chose to serve in Denver in order to continue utilizing my Spanish language skills. Throughout this year of service, I am constantly utilizing the critical thinking skills and self-awareness that I developed as a Global Studies major. Following my work with City Year, I plan to pursue a job in immigration advocacy and reform.
Rochana Cooray (Rochi) from Colombo, Sri Lanka obtained her undergraduate degree in Economics and Global Studies from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in 2014. Upon Graduation Rochi worked at the American Institutes for Research in Washington D.C., as a Research Associate within their Special Education Research Program for two years. Her work experience in the development and education sectors let her to apply to the Johns Hopkins SAIS M.A. Program where she will be concentrating in International Economics and Development. Upon graduation she intends to work in the development finance sector. Rochi’s long term goal is to return to Sri Lanka to start an Impact Investment firm to fund social enterprises and and grow minority and women owned businesses around the island.Rochi speaks English and Sinhalese fluently, is conversational in Hindi and has an intermediate proficiency in French.
Even before going to college I knew I wanted to work internationally, so when I got to SLU I hit the ground running in the GS program, French language and already had the study abroad brochures lined up. I ended up studying abroad in India my junior year, which was my first introduction to international development work and really propelled me to my real passion, global health.
When I graduated from SLU, I moved to Boston and began a graduate program at Brandeis University. When I graduated I got a job as a Project Associate at a global health NGO called Management Sciences for Health (MSH). For the next three years I slowly worked my way up supporting many of our programs in West Africa (used my French every day!) learning more about TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention in challenging environments. I had the opportunity to travel to conduct trainings for ministry of health officials, conduct assessments and hold focus group discussions with members of community based organizations.
In 2016 I moved to Portland, OR with my partner to try our hand at the West Coast lifestyle. I’m now working for the state in their HIV/STD prevention unit. I’ve stayed involved in the global health world through a non-profit that I’ve become very active with called the SPOON Foundation. They’re an international nutrition NGO that works with children living in institutions, and specialize in training caregivers on feeding practices for children with disabilities who are disproportionately affected by malnutrition.
I’m always happy to speak to SLU students who are just starting their journey into international development. It all seems to abstract before you get out there, sometimes a data point or two can be enough to set you on the right path!
Sajana is a passionate international educator with more than ten years of professional experience working for diverse nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. She graduated from SLU with honors in Global Studies and her time abroad in Kenya and India, as well as the research she did in her undergraduate career, helped shape her passion for travel and youth development. She had the opportunity to give back to St. Lawrence while working in CIIS early on in her career and before moving to the Big Apple where she resides today.
Sajana is currently the Assistant Director for Short-term Programs in the International and Study Abroad Programs office at Fordham University where she promotes international education to undergraduate students, and oversees a portfolio of short-term faculty led programs. She has extensive intercultural and international experience and has worked, lived, and traveled to countries throughout the world. One of her recent professional accomplishments was developing a study abroad scholarship fund at Fordham University and bringing in the first major gift of 25K to support a new Arabic Language Summer Program in Morocco that she designed. Sajana has an MS in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University.
She has a strong commitment to peace and social justice as well as working with and for youth and is an active Board Member for Active Plus, a nonprofit providing holistic health, nutrition, and fitness to underserved youth and adolescence throughout New York City. Sajana also has a background in dance and circus arts. She lives vicariously through her friends who are professional circus performers in shows like Cirque du Soleil!
While visiting St. Lawrence at an accepted high school senior open house, I took a demo political economy course with Professor Jayman and instantly knew that global studies would become one of my majors. I soon came to know Jayman as “JJ”, my academic adviser, and was welcomed into the astounding intellect and community of the global studies department. My concentration was in Asian and European comparative studies, most often through the lens of food. I studied off campus two semesters, in the France program as a sophomore, then in China as junior. These were incredible experiences, as there were endless opportunities for learning, cultural exchange, personal growth, and inspired subsequent research.
The summer after I graduated, I wanted to take the social justice values justice cultivated through this major and put them into action, so I joined AmeriCorps VISTA. This year-long national service program embeds you in a community where you work at a nonprofit in their mission to alleviate poverty. That nonprofit was Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity in Pittsfield, MA where I became deeply engaged in community development, resident engagement, and affordable housing. I really became drawn to amplifying the voices and advocating for the rights of historically marginalized communities, which I did on a theoretical level in global studies. After working there for over two years, I moved to the east end of the state to Quincy, just south of Boston. I worked at a mentoring nonprofit called Boston Partners in Education as their grant writer and marketing coordinator, learning about the complexities of the Boston Public Schools system.
Through my relationship building and aspirations to work on policy-level change, I have now found myself working in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Legislative Aide. Each day I engage with progressive policy, constituent concerns, and constantly learn and negotiate with how we can make this state a better place to live for all people. So while my current career isn’t globally based, I would not have arrived here without the discoveries and efforts I put forth as a global studies major.
I learned very early in my SLU career that I should switch from an environmental chemistry major to Global Studies major after my first attempt at community development work in Nepal with Literacy for Nepal. Looking for explanations to the complexities of globalization, political economy, and basic research methods, professors like Jayman, Collins and Stoddard transformed my experience at SLU and opened the doors to many opportunities on and off campus. Whilst at SLU, I completed the Kenya Semester Program, completed another research trip in Nepal with the help of alumni Brijlal Chaudhari ‘10, assisted with education research in China and Taiwan with Wannie Wang, and completed an on campus internship with the Weave which provided experience that I still use today in my work.
Since I graduated in 2012, I have completed 2 years with Americorps ABLE (Ability to Build Lives through Education) and Opportunity Corps (Financial Literacy) doing 3,400 hours of service in my home city, Buffalo, New York. I served as a teacher’s aid in International School PS45 where most of the population is refugees from all over the world. I also served with the International Institute of Buffalo resettling refugee children into school and preparing household budgets and tax preparations for refugee and immigrant families.
I quickly finished my second “year” with Americorps in 2014 so I could complete the MEF teaching fellowship in Mae Sot, Thailand at Minmahaw School, an English immersion school for 17-23 year old Burmese migrants and refugees. This led me to an opportunity teaching English at Wide Horizons Community Development Program, another adult education program for staff looking to build their organizations on the Thai-Myanmar border or inside Myanmar. I transitioned to Community Development instructor in 2015, training students in project management and organizational development skills. In 2017, funding began to transition to Myanmar and slowly fade on the border, thus I spent the entire year of 2017 working with our small team to transition our program over the border to Myanmar. In 2018, Wide Horizons Myanmar opened in Mawlamyine, Myanmar. I currently teach community development and project management to 24 staff members from organizations from all over Myanmar and the border.
I have utilized my global studies degree every day since I have graduated and it has done nothing but open the doors to understanding the complexity of the cultures and histories around me in Buffalo and Myanmar.
Laura B. Sisco
Upon graduation from SLU, I joined the Peace Corps as an agroforestry extension agent and environmental educator. I served for two years in Belo, North West Region, Cameroon. While in Cameroon, I focused on developing water resources, improving the soil, and enhancing livelihoods for youth. Next, I spent two years living in Beirut, Lebanon where I gained my Master’s of Science degree. I was chosen to present my thesis research on recycled rooftop gardens at an international conference in Amman, Jordan. My research was published in the Journal of Building and Environment (Sisco, L., Monzer, S., Farajalla, N., Bashour, I., & Saoud, I. P. (2017). Roof top gardens as a means to use recycled waste and A/C condensate and reduce temperature variation in buildings. Building and Environment). If interested, you can read a bit about my time in Beirut here: https://www.goabroad.com/interviews/laura-sisco-graduate-program-alumni
When I returned from Beirut, I spent a brief amount of time working at the Natural Resources Conservation Service as an Earth Team Volunteer in Connecticut. I’m currently working as a Research Technician at the University of Vermont in the Entomology Laboratory. My work is focused on environmental integrated pest management activities. I’m still very much interested in global studies and have been making an effort to connect with international people in Vermont. I am grateful for the department for giving me a strong foundation from which to build my life path.