COLA Connections Newsletter: Winter 2013

Alumni Profile - Kate Macken, International and Global Studies program

Kate Macken is a 2013 graduate of the International and Global Studies program. She was an exceptional student during her time at RIT. Her outstanding work during her undergraduate career lead her to be the recipient of the 2013 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Now a graduate student at the Monterey Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California, Kate continues to exhibit the high standards of a RIT Liberal Arts education in her post-graduate work.

You were awarded a prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship around the time you graduated from RIT's program in International and Global Studies last spring. How did your Liberal Arts education serve you in that position?

I am extremely honored and thankful for receiving the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Without it, I may not have been able to afford graduate school. I will also have the opportunity to have two internships; one at the Department of State, and the other at an embassy abroad. Then, I will serve as a Foreign Service Officer for at least three years. This has always been my dream job, so it was incredible to secure a position in the field at such a young age! I definitely think my Liberal Arts education at RIT prepared me for this fellowship. Throughout my undergraduate career, I gained valuable skills in communication (written and oral), research (qualitative and quantitative), and language. I know these skills will greatly help me in the Foreign Service.

You are now attending the Monterey Institute for International Studies. How do you like that institution?

I am currently studying International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute for International Studies. I absolutely love the institution. The professors are wonderful, and the curriculum is very career-focused. I think the master’s degree that I earn will be very valuable for my future career in the foreign service.

Now that you are interacting with peers from other universities, particularly those from traditional liberal arts schools, how do you think your education at a liberal arts college within an institution of technology has helped you?

I truly believe that my undergraduate degree from RIT gives me a competitive edge over other students who studied at traditional liberal arts schools. RIT focuses on career-centered education. I was required to take various technical courses such as Web Foundations and Data Analysis to graduate, [giving me] skills that are extremely valuable and look great on a résumé. I was also able to take a course on geospatial technologies, which provided me with valuable tools for research. I don’t think students at traditional liberal arts schools have the same opportunities. Also important, RIT was very flexible. I studied abroad twice, served as an intern for the United Nations Association of Rochester, performed research for a summer fellowship, and worked as a course assistant. You really can do it all at RIT.

Have you had time to keep up with your non-academic interests?

Although I am extremely busy, I always make time to keep up with my non-academic interests. I was a varsity swimmer and club soccer player throughout my career at RIT. I continue to play club soccer at MIIS and exercise regularly. I hope to train for triathlons in the future! Monterey, California has so much to offer! The weather is always nice, and there are plenty of active, outdoorsy things to do (hiking, mountain biking, surfing, climbing, etc.).

What would you recommend to other students who are about to graduate with a degree in a liberal arts field from RIT?

I highly recommend that students apply for fellowships such as Pickering and Rangel (if they are interested in foreign affairs). I wouldn’t have been able to afford graduate school without my fellowship. There is always a way to find funding for research and future education; you just have to be creative.