Bachelor of Arts 2015, International Affairs and Economics
Christina Cottiero (BA ‘15, International Affairs; BS ‘15, Economics) started her PhD in the political science department at UC San Diego after finishing at GWU, concentrating in international relations and comparative politics. She is now a fourth year PhD Candidate working to complete her dissertation, which is a book project on the strategic use of African regional integration organizations by African political elites. She has interviewed political leaders, military leaders and diplomats in Nigeria about regional organizations, crisis management and peacekeeping. Next summer she will be conducting further rounds of interviews in Nigeria, Togo and Tanzania. At UC San Diego she also teaches and mentors undergraduate and masters students. She intends to defend her dissertation in about two years and enter the academic job market, applying for positions as a professor of political science.
What excites you about the work you do? I love the balance of creativity and logic in my work. I get to identify puzzles in the political world and present novel answers.
What is the most significant career experience you've had so far, and what made it meaningful to you? My most significant experience was my solo field work in Nigeria, which I planned and executed alone. I realized that I could keep a clear head and push for details in interviews that sounded somewhat scary or uncomfortable to people back home- including speaking with former ministers of defense and army generals about corruption.
How did GWU and the UHP prepare you for your professional journey? In what ways has your career evolved since you graduated from GWU? The UHP courses were very helpful in improving the quality of my writing and argumentation style, which is immensely important in my job. I think it is really important that the UHP professors set high standards from the beginning (in Origins classes) and have realized how fortunate I was to have such great mentoring on writing academic essays. I have realized that GW professors are expected to provide quality feedback to students much more than professors at many other large universities.
Advice for current UHP students: If there is a course on public speaking, take it. If you go into academia, know that you will need to become a highly effective public speaker to succeed.