By M.J. Crawford

  • 2011 University of Maryland-College Park PPIA Junior Summer Institute Fellow
  • Class of 2016, MSFS, The Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University


MJ Crawford, MSFS 2016_cropped My summer with the PPIA Junior Summer Institute (JSI) at the University of Maryland-College Park first showed me how interacting with people holding a diverse range of views and perspectives can create innovative solutions to foreign policy issues. Years later, when it came time to choose a graduate school, I decided on a smaller program that reflected the lesson I had learned during my JSI experience. I happily chose to attend Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program.

While I really enjoyed my classes, I discovered that a majority of my own personal and professional growth came from leadership activities outside of the classroom. In my first year, I became part of the executive leadership board of Hoya Circles, a graduate student organization that aims to connect graduate students of color to professionals and organizations that are committed to increasing diversity in the field of international affairs. The members of Hoya Circles include graduate students of all backgrounds from the eight different degree programs within the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) and other graduate degree programs at Georgetown.

Hoya Circles Event_Spring 2015Last year, Hoya Circles invited a panel of international affairs practitioners from the U.S. Department of State, the Brookings Institution and Peace Corps headquarters to Georgetown to speak about successes and challenges of representing the United States abroad as a racial or ethnic minority. The panel gave convincing arguments and evidence that diversity amongst America’s policymakers is not just about “feeling good”— it leads to measureable outcomes and greater policy innovation. They even mentioned that the United States’ diverse representation abroad has helped raise the numbers of racial and ethnic minorities and women included within the foreign delegations of other countries.

Hoya Circles has also organized social mixers for its members to build relationships with diverse young professionals currently working in international affairs in Washington D.C. Taking advantage of our D.C. location, we coordinated site visits with the Congressional Black Caucus and Brookings Institution—a member of the Think Tank Diversity Consortium. In the wake of protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Hoya Circles members raised awareness on how domestic problems can affect America’s human rights image abroad by speaking on panels, meeting with a community activist from Baltimore, and participating in the annual MSFS U.S. Civil Rights Movement clinic.

Hoya Circles seeks to emphasize the impact that domestic policies can have on our nation’s foreign policy international perception. While interning abroad over the summer, many of my Georgetown MSFS classmates and I constantly found ourselves answering questions from our international colleagues about domestic problems such as police brutality, social inequality and immigration. My leadership activities at Georgetown MSFS have been a great way to hone the diplomatic skills necessary for a career in international affairs—regardless of the sector!