“Over the last four years, the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) has given me opportunities that shaped my academic and career trajectory. As a freshman, I had little concrete knowledge of what a career in international affairs could look like. In the summer after my sophomore year, with the support of PICS, I travelled to Brazil to spend five weeks working with a human trafficking clinic. My experience showed me that transnational issues can most effectively be addressed through international collaboration, sparking my desire to pursue diplomacy.

My International Studies minor has also allowed me to focus my interests while majoring in the applied field of Public Policy. Through classes like Professor Greta Uehling’s Hidden Histories, I deepened my understanding of international conflict. I look forward to applying the skills that PICS has given me through the Schwarzman Scholars program in Beijing, China next year. I hope to use my career to facilitate global cooperation on the most pressing security issues today. I have PICS to thank for guiding me towards this passion!”

Karuna Nandkumar

BA Public Policy; minor, International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘21

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Affiliations: Michigan Foreign Policy Council, Students of Color in Public Policy, Ginsberg Community Leadership Fellow, Amazin' Blue A Cappella

Future plans: “I will be studying Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing as part of the Schwarzman Scholars Class of 2022. I hope to pursue a career in diplomacy and international security policy.”

Fondest memory of her experience in PICS: “The summer after my sophomore year, PICS gave me the opportunity to work with a human trafficking clinic in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This experience shifted my worldview and shaped my career aspirations.”

Is there anything you would like to express to your peers, parents, professors, or others?: “Without the support of my family, peers, and professors in PICS and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, my academic and professional pursuits over the past four years would not have been possible. I would especially like to thank Professor Uehling and Bryna Worner for their invaluable guidance.”