Leland Lazarus, 2016, United States

Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State

Briefly summarize your work experience prior to enrolling at Fletcher. 

Before Fletcher, I worked for China Central Television, where I served as an Associate Producer for its international news talk show. For 18 months I researched and pitched topics for the show, wrote scripts for the anchor, edited and cut video clips, and got to meet some of the brightest minds in Washington, including Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former President Jimmy Carter. Prior to CCTV, I spent a year teaching English as a Fulbright scholar in Panama, the country of my ancestors. Not only did I personally learn about my family's history, culture and language, but I also worked closely with the U.S. embassy there to provide quality English language education to the most disadvantaged youth.

Why did you choose the MYF pathway?

When I was about to graduate from Brown University, I wasn't certain that I wanted to continue down the academic path of international relations. I was deeply interested in the subject, and I had a vague understanding of what careers an IR degree would entail, but I didn't know which path was right for ME. So I decided to apply for the MYF program to give myself the security of knowing that I would be attending graduate school in the future, but also the freedom to experience IR in the real world.

Why did you choose Fletcher?

My college prided itself on its open curriculum through which students could craft their own majors and choose whatever classes interested them the most. So I wanted to find a graduate institution just as dedicated to flexibility and freedom. The Fletcher School provides that and more. I can “shop” for classes, choose the ones I most enjoy, and even design my own field of study. This is truly unique amongst international relations graduate schools. Another reason why I chose Fletcher is the faculty. They are so distinguished, yet so approachable. A case in point: I got to speak to Dean James Stavridis for an hour the very first day of classes! You don’t have such intimate experiences in any other graduate school.

How has the work you completed between your undergraduate studies and Fletcher added to your Fletcher experience?

During the two years before Fletcher, I worked side-by-side with U.S. Foreign Service Officers in Panama, and I gained important writing, public speaking, and media skills at CCTV. Those dual experiences led me to want to become a U.S. Public Diplomacy Officer. And those dual experiences have imbued my coursework at Fletcher with more purpose; now I view every class through the prism of real-world application, and the contributions I make in class are drawn from real-world observations. When everyone in the class can draw on their professional experiences in addition to their theoretical knowledge, then that makes for a more mature, richer discussion.Leland Lazarus

What advice would you give to future MYF applicants?

The MYF program will make you a more mature graduate student, and it will allow you to get more out of your Fletcher experience.

Fields of Study

  • International Information and Communication
  • International Security Studies

Activities involved in at Fletcher

  • Student Council
  • Diplomacy Club
  • China Studies Club
  • Fiesta Latina!

Education before Fletcher

  • BA, Global Security, Brown University

Experience before Fletcher

  • Associate Producer, China Central Television America, Washington, DC
  • English Teacher, Fulbright Program, Panama City, Panama


  • Spanish
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • English