Aaron Melaas, United States

Why I chose Fletcher:  After spending several years working in the private sector, I decided that pursuing a PhD would allow me to focus more specifically on my research interests in economic development. However, I still valued the high level of practical engagement with international affairs that I experienced while working in Washington, and I wasn't necessarily interested in a traditional academic program. Fletcher offered a multidisciplinary approach that appealed to me as a former student of political science with a growing interest in the field of economics, as well as an aspiring academic with a background in business issues. Beyond making me a better scholar, I was also interested in pursuing a degree that would open up a greater range of professional opportunities in the future, and both the Fletcher curriculum and the school's broad and diverse alumni network spoke to the school's success in that respect.

Something that has surprised me: I am constantly surprised by just how far the Fletcher network actually reaches. Even before coming to campus, I randomly had the chance to meet one of my current classmates through a mutual friend while visiting Shanghai. And during the first week of school, I discovered that another new classmate had been working in Mumbai with a former colleague of mine from Washington. So soon surrounded my a large number of friends (and friends of friends) from all over the world, I knew Fletcher would help me make many great connections in the years to come.

Favorite magazine:

Foreign Policy

Favorite musician:

The Roots

Experience where you felt furthest from home:

Riding a bicycle around Bagan, Burma

Most pressing world issue that brought you to Fletcher:

Revival of the debate over state capitalism and industrial policy

Fletcher alumnus you admire:

Ambassador Richard Burt

Fields of Study

  • Development Economics
  • International Political Economcy

Activities involved in at Fletcher

  • PhD Conference
  • The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs
  • Fletcher Fútbol

Education before Fletcher

  • MA, Latin American Studies, Georgetown University
  • BSFS, International Politics, Georgetown University

Experience before Fletcher

  • Research Associate, McLarty Associates, Washington, D.C.


  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • English