The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) is home to the International Studies major and minor. Established in 2009, International Studies is now the sixth-largest major in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), with over 1,100 accomplished alumni worldwide. PICS will mark the U-M Bicentennial with an International Studies Alumni Career Panel on March 20, 2017.
International Studies graduates pursue numerous career paths, many going on to work with corporations, non-profits, or government agencies, as well as progressing directly on to graduate school. This alumni panel will showcase and celebrate the university’s rich history of contributions made by International Studies alumni, while providing valuable insight for current students as they start to develop their own career paths. The panel will include a student Q&A portion; a networking reception with light appetizers will follow.
Learn where an International Studies major can take you.
Co-sponsors: U-M Bicentennial Office, LSA Honors Program, LSA Opportunity Hub, Michigan in Washington Program, Sigma Iota Rho
Bryna Barron (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Bryna Barron is an administrative assistant at the University of Michigan, International Institute working in with the Program in International and Comparative Studies and the Donia Human Rights Center. Prior to joining the university, she held positions in Chicago at Edelman in consumer public relations and at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in its global corporate affairs department. Most recently, Bryna worked at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in both the programs and communications departments. Barron earned her Bachelor of Arts with a triple major in international studies, political science, and Spanish from the University of Michigan, and studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain.
Meet the Panelists:
Andrea Alajbegović (Brooklyn, New York)
Andrea Alajbegović is a first-year law student and Graduate Fellow at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. At Michigan, Andrea represented the College of LSA in Central Student Government and took an active role in Students for Choice. She was an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Summer Research Fellow (now the Detroit Community Based Research Program) and participated in the Michigan in Washington program, where she interned at the National Women’s Law Center and the Center for American Progress. Under the direction of Professor Anna Grzymala-Busse, Andrea earned Honors for her senior thesis about the politicization of abortion in the U.S. and Canada.
After graduating from Michigan, Andrea joined the Teach for America corps in New York City and served as a kindergarten teacher and academic dean for three years at a charter school in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood. Meanwhile, she earned a Masters in Special Education from Brooklyn College. As an attorney, Andrea plans to provide direct legal services to low-income clients while simultaneously working on policy initiatives in New York City that will improve educational and economic outcomes for her former students and all disadvantaged children.
Melanie Askari (New York, New York)
Melanie Askari graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014, majoring in international studies with a focus in global health and environment. While at the university, she worked for the global health and development non-profit, MedLife. She then pursued a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University with a concentration in epidemiology and global health. During her graduate program, she completed a six-month global health practicum in São Paulo, Brazil, working on various child psychiatry research projects. After graduating from Columbia in May 2016, she started a job as a data analyst in the Bureau of Primary Care Access and Planning, at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In this position, she analyzes data pertaining to health insurance and access to care, manages a bilingual texting service for residents to connect to enrollment services, and uses data to help inform decisions related to a multi-media, city wide campaign aimed at reaching remaining uninsured populations.
Nikola Bulajić (La Jolla, California)
Nikola Bulajić was born in the former Yugoslavia, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1996. He completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 2013 in International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation), and Philosophy. During his undergraduate studies, he received two, year-long, study-abroad scholarships funded by the U.S. State Department: The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program allowed him to study in Germany, and the National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship provided the opportunity to study in Brazil.
He moved to San Diego to pursue a master’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of California, San Diego. He completed field research in the Amazon, and his thesis focuses on questions of social organization and the role of Ayahuasca, an Amazonian plant mixture capable of inducing altered states of consciousness, in a secluded Christian community deep in the Brazilian Amazon. He also created www.ThePegasusProject.net, a solo world tour by motorcycle to raise funds for the American Cancer Society which took him 40,000 miles around North American and Europe, before he got married. This experience has recently inspired him to create Pegasus Motorcycle Tours & Consulting, his own proprietorship, focusing on providing customized motorcycle tours, trip planning, photographic and video documentation, and consulting.
He has been working as a teaching assistant at the University California, San Diego for a required freshman writing program while looking for career opportunities. He recently declined acceptance to the University of California, Berkeley's Masters of Journalism program to focus on his own business.
Atlee Chait (Washington, D.C.)
Atlee Chait graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 with a BA in International Studies focused on International Security, Norms and Cooperation. After graduation, Atlee worked in the Sub-Saharan Africa intelligence field while living in Tel Aviv, Israel, and completed a contract with National Geographic supporting the National Geographic Geo Bee. In addition, she’s served as a design, monitoring & evaluation intern with Search for Common Ground, a peacebuilding and conflict resolution organization, where she learned how to evaluate the effectiveness of peacebuilding programs overseas. In 2016, Atlee relocated to Washington, D.C. and currently serves as the monitoring and evaluation associate with the Children’s Law Center. She is tasked with strengthening existing evaluation and monitoring processes, as well as supporting the development and implementation of new monitoring and evaluation processes. Her passions include girls' education and gender equity, women's empowerment, income generation, and community-led development. Atlee is always happy to speak with people about careers in international relations/development.
Sarah Goomar (San Francisco, California)
Sarah Goomar is a 2014 graduate of the University of Michigan. She graduated with a double concentration in political science and international studies, as well as with a minor in gender, race, and nation. During her time at Michigan, Sarah was involved with U-M’s Amnesty International and the South Asian Awareness Network, an organization seeking to mobilize the South Asian American community and deepen its commitment to political activism. In her first year as a post-graduate, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, and worked with the U.S. Department of State. During her time in India, Sarah researched the impact of post colonialism on rape jurisprudence through stories told in a Delhi courtroom. During this time, she produced ethnographic and qualitative research she later presented at the 2016 National Women’s Studies Association conference in Montreal, Canada. She worked closely with human rights lawyers and advocates throughout India during her fellowship, and hopes to attend law school in the near future. Currently, Sarah is working as a legal assistant at Uber in San Francisco, where she's exploring her interest in the intersections of tech and law.
Alyssa Loskill (Boston, Massachusetts)
Alyssa Loskill, a Michigan native, is a rational optimist with a passion for public health. She graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2016 with a desire to fuse her undergraduate studies in global health, infectious disease, and medical anthropology into a rewarding career. Her first job as a post-graduate professional is at the global health consulting firm, John Snow, Inc. In the future, she plans to earn a Master of Public Health and Master of Business Administration in an effort to equip herself with the academic underpinnings required to start her own nonprofit corporation. Alyssa believes that we are in a new age of public health, which encourages autonomy of the beneficiaries while rejecting imperialism and philanthropic paternalism-she yearns to be a part of this momentous, ideological shift.
Allison Punch (Washington, D.C.)
Allison Punch is a member success associate at Devex, a media platform for the global development community. She works with Devex members worldwide—from large, international contractors to small, local NGOs—to help them get the most out of their Devex membership. Allison also manages Devex's University Membership, working with universities to provide students with practical advice on careers in global development. Allison has experience in political fundraising and writes fiction in her spare time. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014.
Layne Vandenberg (Beijing, China)
Layne Vandenberg graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with Highest Distinction and Highest Honors in International Studies. During her four years at Michigan, Layne's most rewarding project focused on a social enterprise in central Kenya employing local women, empowering beekeepers and farmers, and supporting children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. For this work, she was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarianism Award, one of nine Honors awards given to graduating seniors. Her Senior Honors Thesis considered FIFA World Cup policy and its impact on marginalized communities in Rio de Janeiro, and she continued this work through a Fulbright Fellowship concentrating on the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Layne has worked in corporate, government, research, and non-profit institutions in Michigan, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Kenya, Portugal, and Brazil, and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and elementary Mandarin. Currently, Layne is earning her master's degree in International Relations as a Yenching Scholar at Peking University in Beijing, focusing on the role of the Chinese government in manufacturing football (soccer) culture in Chinese society. Bitten by the travel bug, along with the realization that international relations can be more than just work, Layne has spent the last two months backpacking in Southeast Asia.