Class of 2017
Emika was born in Kunming, China and has lived in Denmark, California, and Nebraska. She graduated from New York University 2012 with a Politics major and French minor. In 2010, she spent a semester in Paris, France, where she studied French history and politics at the Sorbonne. Upon graduation, she relocated to Shenzhen, China, where she worked for Peking University Graduate School’s School of Environment and Energy. There, she helped develop the International Safe Drinking Water Alliance, an international NGO jointly-affiliated with Peking University and the University of California, Davis. She returned stateside in 2014 to begin an internship with the University of Nebraska’s Food Security and Technology Department where she helped develop risk assessment models for pathogens in poultry and dairy products. At Korbel, Emika is an MA candidate in International Development. Her interests include global health affairs, environmental politics, contemporary politics of Asia and Africa, and political intrigue in King’s Landing.
Emma graduated magna cum laude from the University of San Diego with an honors degree in International Relations and minors in Mathematics and Spanish in 2012. As an undergrad, she discovered a passion for forced displacement issues and published an honors thesis that looked at social movements fighting for autonomy in oppressed populations. Since graduating, her freelance position as Policy and Research Coordinator at ADRS, an economic modeling consultant, has allowed her to travel the world and work for organizations such as Equal Education, a non-profit education advocacy group in South Africa, and the Unit of Attention and Reparation to Victims, in Medellín, Colombia. At Korbel, Emma plans to pursue a concentration in International Human Rights and to focus her studies on refugees’ rights and forced displacement.
Kaleb is a MA candidate in International Security. He earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Kaleb received a commission as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army and served in Afghanistan. Kaleb’s research interests include terrorism, insurgencies, and the dynamics of state interaction with contentious political organizations.
Christine is a MA candidate in International Development. She graduated cum laude from Tufts University in 2011 with dual degrees in International Relations and Spanish. Following her graduation, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, working on projects ranging from English teacher training to sports therapy for the disabled. She completed her service in 2013 and moved to Honduras where she began working as a Program Associate for Global Brigades. In this role, she worked with the Public Health, Water, Architecture and Microfinance Programs. She soon developed a passion for microfinance and business development as a means of promoting gender equality and reducing poverty. She plans to deepen her knowledge of the nexus between inclusion and economic development while at the Korbel School before pursuing a career in this field.
Aaron is a MA candidate in International Development. He was raised in Wisconsin and earned a BA in English: Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, where he graduated with highest honors. He cites a summer of building hiking trails with the Student Conservation Association in Utah’s Manti-La Sal National Forest as the catalyst for his desire to experience the world, a desire which ultimately led to him studying abroad in Paris, working on a goat farm in Southern France, and serving in Peace Corps. In Peace Corps, Aaron was placed in Guinea’s Fouta Djallon region, where he was partnered with a small gardening cooperative. There he discovered an interest in food security, a subject he hopes to explore at Korbel.
Originally from Boston, Andrew earned his BA from Oberlin College, graduating in 2011 with departmental high honors in Politics, a minor in French, and a concentration in International Studies. Prior to attending the Korbel School, he worked at CRDF Global, a non-profit in Arlington, Virginia that focuses on nonproliferation and international science issues, and is an implementer for the U.S. Department of State’s Global Threat Reduction programs. He also previously interned at the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonproliferation and arms control think tank in Washington, D.C. Andrew’s fields of interest include international relations theory, international security, and nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. He is a candidate for the MA in International Security at Korbel.
A native of Rome, GA, Patrick graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in International Affairs and a minor in Spanish. While a student, Patrick completed internships in rural regions of Guatemala, Kenya, and Uganda. After graduating he spent a year with Athens PBJs, a nonprofit that brings together people - no matter age, skin color, bank account size - to experience and be transformed by friendship. Shortly thereafter, Patrick joined the Atlanta Mission where he has led partner integration into a new best practices service model, leveraging external expertise towards clearly defined client outcomes. At the Korbel School, Patrick will pursue a master's degree in international studies while exploring development in post-conflict societies. In his free time, Patrick enjoys spending time with his wife Anna and dog Tucker. He also enjoys a good coffee shop, Braves baseball, and running.
Trishna was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. She graduated with honors from Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) in 2010 where she majored in Political Science with a minor in Gender Studies. After graduation, she worked for a year as a volunteer English teacher at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. She then returned to Kathmandu, where she joined an English language weekly called Nepali Times as a reporter and editor. She wrote editorials and op-ed pieces on the country’s elections, post-war reconciliation process, and women in politics. Trishna has also worked as a media fellow for PANOS South Asia and travelled across Nepal studying the accomplishments and limitations of the country’s transitional justice mechanism. The project culminated in a book chapter which examines the gendered narratives of Nepal’s decade long conflict by looking at biographies and diaries of women. At Korbel, Trishna is pursuing a Master’s in International Studies and exploring her research interests in post-conflict societies and the gendered implications of violence.
Originally from Las Vegas, NM, Adam Ratzlaff holds a BA from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, where he triple majored in International Relations, Economics and Latin American studies. Before attending Tulane, Adam spent a year living in Minas Gerais Brazil as a Rotary Foreign Exchange Student. Prior to pursuing an MA in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies as a Sié Fellow, he conducted political and economic analysis of Latin America for several groups including the Inter American Development Bank, the World Bank, Southern Pulse Correspondents and the Commitment to Equity Project. His work has been featured on VoxEU.org and in Hemispheres: The Tufts University Journal of International Affairs. Adam's interests include US-Latin American foreign policy, Pan-American cooperation and economic and social development in Latin America.
Natalie is a MA candidate in International Human Rights. Born and raised just outside of Boston, she has all the defining characteristics of a Massachusetts native, including extreme emotional attachments to professional sports teams and serious candlepin bowling skills. She graduated cum laude from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and worked at The Boston Globe before beginning an AmeriCorps year of service with a program for middle-school students in Boston. After finishing AmeriCorps, she moved to Bogotá, Colombia, to spend a year as a volunteer English teacher with WorldTeach. She ended up staying for 2.5 more years, working with a USAID-funded development project, a human rights NGO focused on US policy in Latin America, as a freelance journalist and, most recently, as the editor of a website covering news in Latin America. She is interested in exploring the relationship between advocacy, communications and human rights in Latin America, and is perpetually counting down the days until she can go back to Colombia.
Diego Bleifuss Prados
Originally from Chicago, Diego attended Wesleyan University, where he majored in Neuroscience and Behavior. During and after college he conducted research on epilepsy at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Diego also spent a year teaching English in La Coruña, Spain, and he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. While there, Diego taught Biology and English and worked to improve education and health in his community through workshops, a water pump project, and academic camps. After Peace Corps, Diego spent a year as a grant writer for SGA Youth & Family Services, a Chicago non-profit, before serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Sierra Leone, where he taught Biology and Physics and worked to improve his school's library. Diego is an MA Candidate in International Development with interests in education, health, and sub-Saharan Africa. He enjoys reading fiction, playing soccer, and watching birds and the Chicago Cubs.
Sarah is an MA candidate in International Development. Prior to pursuing graduate studies at the Josef Korbel School, Sarah worked with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in New York. There she provided strategic program guidance to cultivate and grow key partnerships supporting UNICEF’s global mandate to protect and advance children’s rights. Before joining the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Sarah managed field office operations for the Kyrgyz Republic Transition Initiative, a USAID-funded project supporting democratic transition and mitigating conflict in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Sarah served as an AmeriCorps volunteer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina and graduated magna cum laude from The George Washington University in 2009 with a BS in public health.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Dennis retired from the U.S. Navy in 2013 after serving in a variety of leadership, planning, and operational assignments throughout South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia. He is currently an independent consultant and looks forward to learning from and collaborating with the faculty and students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, where he will pursue an MA in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration. Outside of school, he enjoys exploring Colorado’s outdoor activities with his wife and three wonderful children.
John was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. At Bowdoin, John studied history and government and was captain of the varsity football team. After graduation, John accepted a commission in the United States Marine Corps and served seven years as an Infantry and Force Reconnaissance officer before retiring from active duty as a Captain. While in the Marines, John deployed to Africa, Afghanistan, Jordan and multiple countries in the Asia-Pacific region. At the Josef Korbel School, John will be pursuing an MA in International Studies while focusing on the intersection of maritime security and international trade.
Justine Lyons is an MA candidate in International Human Rights. She graduated from Barnard College in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and Human Rights and spent a semester in Rwanda with SIT’s Post-Genocide Reconciliation and Peacebuilding program. She has worked on several political campaigns in New York City and upstate New York. Justine has also taught English in Taiwan, Palestine, and Cameroon, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the education sector from 2014 to 2016. In Cameroon, Justine lived in Bertoua, East Region, and worked with a local primary school to improve literacy rates, including supporting founding of a small school library and a tuition payment plan for parents. During service she also learned to make homemade tortillas and speak a few words of Fulfulde.
Born, raised, and recently relocated back to Denver, Elise plans to study human rights, country governance, and health equity at the Josef Korbel School. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a degree in Political Science and minors in Women’s Studies and African Studies. For four years, Elise worked in Washington D.C. with the Aspen Institute’s Global Health and Development policy program on a high-level initiative aimed at elevating reproductive health through public events, private meetings, and media placements. Previously, she served as Field Manager for a community project in Uganda developing a family planning curriculum in partnership with community members and health clinic staff, and she studied in Arusha, Tanzania, where she conducted research on the sustainability of women’s nonprofits. She loves coffee, dancing to live music, and being outdoors; in 2015 she completed a 2,189-mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
A native of Passo Fundo, a small town in the south of Brazil, Natália graduated with honors from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in 2015, earning a BA in International Relations. During her undergraduate studies, Natália received a federal grant that allowed her to spend a year studying Iran’s history and foreign policy, and later conducted additional research on the Middle East and Ukraine. As an undergraduate, Natália also volunteered as a member of the Editorial Board of Perspectiva Magazine, staff at UFRGS Model United Nations, and Secretary of Academic Affairs at UFRGSMUNDI, a Model UN for under-privileged high school students. At the Josef Korbel School, Natália will pursue her MA in International Studies and explore her interests in conflict resolution, strategic studies, human rights, and history.
Vahaken is from Nicosia, Cyprus. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Lawrence University with a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. During his time at Lawrence, he conducted field research in Jamaica, interned at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington, D.C., and completed an honors project on the recent rise of radical right parties in Europe, combining empirical research with philosophical argument. Prior to his undergraduate studies, he served in the National Guard of Cyprus and was discharged as a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. At the Josef Korbel School, he will be pursuing an MA in International Security to explore his primary interests in foreign policy, conflict resolution, terrorism and insurgency, and interstate war.
Alex is pursuing an MA in International Development with certificates in Global Health Affairs and Humanitarian Assistance. She holds a BA with High Honors in Philosophy with a concentration in Gender Studies from Haverford College. While at Haverford, Alex was awarded research fellowships exploring development issues in Guatemala and India and also assisted in researching the role that government transparency plays in protecting human rights. Since graduation, Alex has focused her work on the intersection of health and human rights at a variety of organizations domestically and internationally in Madagascar and Uganda. She is also an Advisory Council Member of the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. Alex's research interests include humanitarian health aid and women's empowerment in post-disaster and post-conflict zones. A New England native who has lived in Colorado on and off for over six years, Alex loves exploring new trails, night skies, and peaks with her husband and their dog, Miles Davis. She also teaches yoga and cycling around town.
A lifelong resident of Michigan, Jon earned a BA with distinction in Public Policy from the University of Michigan with a focus on the economics of foreign policy. As part of his studies, Jon spent a semester working at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he was able to further pursue his interest in countries of the former Soviet Union. Following graduation he worked for the National Democratic Institute in Washington D.C., supporting the promotion of credible and transparent elections around the world. At the Korbel School, Jon is pursuing an MA in International Security.