Biography of Alexandra Fochios
My name is Alexandra Fochios and I am originally from New York City. My family and I moved to Madison, Wisconsin after middle school,so I attended and graduated from Edgewood High School in 2015.
Being brought up in a bilingual and bicultural household has had a profound influence over my life. As a child, my father’s parents sent me to Greek school, where I spent afternoons learning the Greek language, singing songs, and attending Greek dance classes. On my mother’s side, I inherited an ear for a different language — Japanese. This was exclusively spoken in her Hawaiian household, where she was raised. I have spent a great deal of time in Kauai with my extended family, learning about their heritage and culture.
With this sort of background rooted in cultural and international differences, I knew that I wanted my studies at UW-Madison to reflect this part of my life. It was actually International Studies 101 which I took in the fall of my freshman year that inspired me to pursue this academic interest more seriously. Throughout my time at UW, I have utilized the International Studies major, the professors within it, and their courses in order to expand my knowledge about the global community that we live in.
It is because of these unique classes and professors that my desire to learn about this field has increased. As a result, last summer I decided to study abroad in Fez, Morocco in order to have a better understanding about Moroccan culture, language, and the North African region more broadly. I am extremely grateful for this experience because it was an opportunity that not only enriched my own academic and language skills but also allowed me to learn about other people’s perspectives on their society and the world.
Looking to the future, I know that the skills and experiences that I have gained thanks to the International Studies major will continue to influence me. As of right now, after I graduate in the Spring of 2019, I plan on attending law school. Although none of my plans are set in stone, I hope to one day pursue a career where I can incorporate my passion for International Studies.
Biography of Soeun Lee
Soeun (Sarah) Lee is a third-year student, majoring in International Studies (Politics and policy in the global economy) and Economics (Math emphasis) with a certificate in East Asian Studies. Soeun was born and grew up in Korea until she came to the United States at 15. She spent a year in Oregon as an exchange student, and went to and completed international high school in New York, where she completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. As she has been always exposed to different cultures around the world, and meeting friends from all over the world, she became familiar with living in the international environment.
Growing up in a military family in Korea, Sarah has been interested in Asia-Pacific relationships, including North Korean issues, which led her to the IS Major. She decided to major in Economics as her interest narrowed down to Asia-Pacific economics. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she has taken several courses with the IS Major that fit her interest, such as International Business, Chinese Migration since 1500, International Industrial Organization, Korean History from 1945-present, Globalization and Education, and International Institutions and World Order. Taking Globalization and Education – which highlighted locating globalization in different spheres and thinking through the perspectives of ‘others’ – and a modern Korean history, she also became interested North Korean refugee resettlement issues and wrote final papers for both courses focused on North Korea.
She is currently working at the International Studies Major Office as a communication intern and has been also involved in several international-oriented student organizations, including UNICEF UW-Madison, Global Economic Forum (GEF), and The Wisconsin International Review (The WIRe). As a member and VP of the research team at GEF she has conducted a research and held a forum on the Hanjin Shipping Crisis in Korea (November 2016), Trans-Pacific Partnership (April 2017), and Health Care System in the world (November 2017). She has also covered the Asia and Oceania region for GEF’s bi-weekly newsletter and is a writer for the WIRe, publishing three articles about South Korean economic structures, diplomacy surrounding the Park scandal and Trump’s visit to Asia, as well as the recent Bitcoin frenzy (see below).
Soeun (Sarah) is planning to go to graduate school after graduation, studying Asia-Pacific policies and economic relationships. Even though she has not made a concrete decision, she wants to keep working in an international environment and hopes to work in think tanks on Asia-Pacific relationships.
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Biography of Jordan Owen
I am a junior majoring in International Studies and Economics with a certificate in Educational Policy Studies. I graduated from Duke School in Durham, NC in 2011 and Carrboro High School in 2015. While in high school I was extremely fortunate to have Matt Cone as my World History teacher in my freshman year. He taught the course with an eye to global transformations, or the ways in which humans and their ways of life have varied across geographical contexts. He was also the faculty advisor for the Global Poverty Reading Group, which was an extracurricular in which I became interested thanks to the rigorous and engaging nature of his class. As a sophomore, I read a dozen books ranging from Poor Economics to Why Nations Fail to Arrival City, gaining an increased knowledge of the complexity of human societies and the staggering amount of inequality that exists in this world. At the end of the class we had the opportunity to meet and discuss the year’s undertaking with Jim Kim, the President of the World Bank, a leader whom I revere for his unwavering commitment to supporting human dignity regardless of geography. I proceeded to take every class my high school had to offer in social sciences, and I never tired of learning new ways to view global problems.
This naturally propelled me towards International Studies 101 in my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The globalization lens helped me tie together trends that I had only just started to uncover during my secondary education. From that class, I proceeded onwards to Social Mobilizations in Latin America, a Survey of African Studies, and Globalization and Education. Each was radically different in its approach to understanding various parts of the world, which was the most enticing part. Some focused more on institutional structures, while others took a more theoretical approach. Combined with the neoclassical models that I was learning in my Economics courses, many of whose assumptions directly contradicted material from my International Studies classes, I have grappled with dualisms every day of the past two years. Among these, studying socioeconomic inequality and the legacies of colonialism have been the most engaging for me.
As a facet of learning about social inequality, I wanted to get hands-on experience in working towards social justice and racial equity. I have had the transformative opportunity to serve as both a facilitator and the Student Coordinator for the Our Wisconsin Program, which seeks to foster diversity inclusion within UW-Madison. Looking outside of the community that I have come to call home, and hoping to gain new perspectives on my topics of study, I decided to study abroad this semester in Sevilla, Spain. After an intensive grammar review, I have commenced my regular classes, all of which are in Spanish. I am taking Politics and Society of the Contemporary Arab World, Islamic Art and Culture in Spain, Migrations in Today’s Globalised World, and a Social Justice and Human Rights Practicum. Between the coursework, excursions with my program, and my efforts to engage with Sevillanos in every aspect of my day, I am stretching myself to see how people engage with each other and their society in another part of the world.
After I graduate, I am considering spending time abroad or in domestic service work before continuing on to graduate school. Though I do not yet know where my International Studies major will lead me, I know that it has provided a solid foundation for any work that requires analytical thinking and interpersonal skills. I have found many of my passions thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of the International Studies major, and will continue to pursue this type of learning moving forward.
Biography of Jenny Strugnell
Jennifer Strugnell is a junior pursuing a degree in International Studies with a focus on Global Security, and a certificate in Afro-American Studies. She was born in Madison and graduated from West High School after three years. Between high school and university, she spent a year traveling, starting in Western Europe, and spending time in Bali, Indonesia, and New Zealand. While traveling, Jenny developed a love of learning about other cultures and experiencing new ways of life. Despite these obvious connections to International Studies, Jenny remained adamant that she would pursue a degree in Environmental Science. However, after taking International Studies 101 with Erica Simmons, and International Studies 402 with Stephen Young, she knew that pursuing the major was the best option.
Starting at the beginning of her sophomore year, Jenny had the opportunity to intern in the Institute for Regional and International Studies at UW-Madison. She has worked closely with the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Language Immersion Institute (APTLII), and was named the coordinator of the program in January 2018. Through working with APTLII, Jenny has gained a better understanding of the ways in which people relate to language learning and the diverse connections between history, language, and culture, both domestically and abroad.
Throughout the past three years, Jenny has taken classes on global poverty, cultural practices, and criminal processes, and has cultivated a passion for legal systems both domestically and abroad. Jenny is particularly interested in West Africa and the African diaspora. As she moves toward graduation next year, Jenny hopes to pursue a career focusing on civil and human rights. Ultimately, she would like to spend several years working in civil and human rights organizations, domestically or abroad, with the goal of attending law school once she has decided exactly what area of the field she would like to work in.