GPIA Student Rudy Shaffer Explores Future Career Possibilities Through Internships

Rudy ShafferRudy Shaffer is a GPIA student graduating this May 2014. She hails from Portland, Oregon and is concentrating in Conflict and Security. When she’s not studying or at work, Rudy can be found running through Central Park or exploring and testing New York’s endless supply of coffee and cute coffee shops.


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interview conducted by Emma Whitaker.

Tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you came to be at The New School’s GPIA program?

I’m from the fir forests of the Pacific Northwest, where polar fleece and rainboots are my signature outfit and where I can happily spend endless days drinking coffee and drying off my wet yellow lab. It also happens to be where I graduated with a BA in liberal studies from Oregon State University. It was at OSU that I discovered my love for world travel; developed an interest in international relations, particularly the well-being of women and children; and decided to move across the country to pursue a masters through the Graduate Program in International Affairs.

Tell me about your experiences within GPIA.

I’ve never been one to limit myself to a single subject, and the GPIA was the best possible fit because it enabled me to explore a wide array of interests. I never felt confined to look at the world through a single lens—in fact, the GPIA faculty encouraged me to use many different lenses to reveal new, fresh, and varied perspectives. Through the GPIA I was able to dig deep to understand the many facets that combine to make our fast-paced world so complex, dynamic, and demanding. The scope of the GPIA encouraged me to expand my horizons, taking information and insights derived from intimate, in-depth group discussions on real-world topics and applying them to real-world experiences. In addition to coursework I was able to complete internships at Women for Women International, the Clinton Foundation, and the office of Global Youth Issues at the Department of State; I traveled abroad to attend sessions of the UN General Assembly at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland; and I participated in the Democracy and Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, studying the palimpsest of architecture and community, as well as the effects of post-conflict recovery and peacekeeping in a war-torn region.

Those sound like some great internships! Can you tell us about how those experiences have shaped your future career plans and goals?

I will say that on behalf of all my internship experiences I know that I want a career where I have the freedom to travel and work on a wide range of subjects and projects. Our global world is so interconnected that no matter what area of work I am focusing on (health, education, environment, gender empowerment, post-conflict peace building, etc.) every facet of that work will impact the bigger sphere of international relations and improve the life of someone else. These experiences taught me the importance of community, of giving, and the impacts of hard work. These internships opened my eyes to the resilience of people all over the world who have overcome some of the worst human atrocities, many of which are unimaginable and unfathomable, and yet, they still find the strength to persevere. Most importantly, I have discovered the impact of storytelling, sharing stories and experiences to find and foster deep connections all over the world. I truly believe that “A person is a person through other persons” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

What advice would you give to new or incoming GPIA students?

Dear new GPIA students,

You are about to embark on a fantastic new chapter! The GPIA is a very special place, a place where you will meet lifelong friends, a university that will not only be your home, but your support system, your community, and your family. You will have the chance to discover a city that (truly) never sleeps. I encourage you to meet as many new people as possible, I challenge you to discover as many hole in the wall coffee shops as you can. Get a few hours of sleep every night. Read everything. Ask questions, step out of your comfort zone, and invest in a warm winter coat!  Soak it all up and take it all in. The world is your oyster and this is just the beginning. Welcome to GPIA!

Any final thoughts?

These opportunities [at GPIA] would not have been possible without the support of everyone connected to the GPIA. They challenged my ideas, pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and forced me to ask questions. My experiences as a GPIA student have enabled me to form a thoughtful and critical analysis of what it means to work in the international field and have provided me with the tools I’ll need to make a positive contribution and lasting impact as a millennial, humanitarian, and global citizen.

Thank you so much Rudy!  

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