Interview of an IE Master in International Relations 2016/2017 Candidate
Jacqueline (Jackie) Williams is the IE Fellow Scholarship Recipient for the Master in International Relation’s Program (2016-2017). A native of Syracuse, New York, USA, Jackie attended the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. from 2009-2013 where she received a Bachelor’s in Politics with a focus in International Relations, as well as a Minor Degree in Spanish. During her time as an undergraduate student, Jackie spent her free time participating in one of CUA’s acapella vocal groups as well as volunteering with the international co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She spent a summer abroad in Madrid, Spain studying at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She’s interned with the Embassy of Peru in the Office of Public Diplomacy and with the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence in Washington, D.C. After graduating, Jackie moved to Lima, Peru where she worked for several months with the NGO Krochet Kids International. Upon returning to D.C., Jackie worked for FHI 360, a well-known non-profit human development organization. After some time at FHI 360, Jackie moved back to upstate, New York to work on the Democratic Primary Race in the 24th Congressional District. Once the election ended, Jackie decided to return to Madrid and continue her education in International Relations at IE.
Tell us more about your experience in Peru
Upon graduating from college in the spring of 2013, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru and work for Krochet Kids International, a non-profit organization established there in 2011. The focus of Krochet Kids international is the empowerment of individuals, particularly women, through a program that provides employment, education, and mentorship support in order to create a holistic approach to development. Once I arrived to Peru and settled in at the headquarters in the ocean front town of Pacífico, a low-income community in the Municipality of Chorrillos, I set to work. I assisted with the Knitting Initiative and the roughly thirty women who worked there at the time. That meant I was in charge of weighing the yarn that needed to be distributed for production, the quality control of products after completion, and the oversight of the women on that floor.
The services provided to the beneficiaries; honest employment, a trained skill, classes in reproductive health and finance and the mentorship program, are all critical in order to equip the women with a path towards independence and free from poverty. I spent most of my time with the women benefiting from the program in their communities and built lasting relationships that continue to this day. There are over a hundred women and some men benefiting from Krochet Kids Peru’s empowerment program today and many of my friends who have now graduated from the program have moved on to further their education and careers.
Share with us a story from your experience at the White House
One of the best internship opportunities I had while studying for my Bachelor’s degree at CUA in Washington D.C., was interning for The White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. In this particular office of the White House, I responded to U.S. constituent letters and e-mails on behalf of President Obama. I also had the opportunity to correspond to letters from Spanish speaking citizens in the Spanish Correspondence Office. One of my favorite experiences during my time there was meeting and chatting with First Lady, Michelle Obama. She thanked me for my hard work and dedication to the office and graciously accepted my compliments on her new haircut and her magenta boots that naturally matched her dress. It was an honor to intern for the Obama Administration and something I’ll always cherish.
Why did you choose the MIR Program?
I chose the Master in International Relations Program for a number of reasons. First, I love Madrid, and the time I spent studying abroad here for a summer in 2011, wasn’t enough time to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. I’ve wanted to come back and explore this city, get to know its’ people and understand and appreciate its’ culture further since then. Secondly, being a Mexican American who can trace my ancestry back to Spain, it’s important to me to continue to use and better my Spanish speaking skills and absorb as much history as Spain has to offer. Thirdly, not only is IE a well-known prestigious multi-cultural school, but it’s also much more affordable than some of the master’s programs I was accepted into in the States! Lastly, I get to spend a year with classmates from 17 other countries who speak a combination of 36 other languages, who, I can tell already, will become some of my lifelong friends.
You just started the program, how do you feel?
I couldn’t be more excited to be back in Madrid and be at IE. Although, the settling into Madrid process has been a bit overwhelming, orientation went great and it’s been a pleasure to get to know all of my new classmates and professors! I’ve heard a number of times that this year will come with some stressful and sleepless nights, but I’ve also been encouraged by previous students and professors alike to go out, enjoy Madrid and cherish this experience. I’m confident that I will be able to manage my time here and do just that!
What would you like to do after the MIR Program?
After I complete the MIR program, I would like to continue to work in international relations. I’m most interested in conflict resolution and humanitarian aid, so I’m hoping this year at IE will help me decide which path I should focus on and I’m excited to see where it will lead me.