Maria Katrina Ablen, 2019, United States

On the Fletcher community: During student orientation, my incoming classmates and I were cautioned on the use of the Social List- a listserv that enables the sender to send an email to the entire Fletcher student body, faculty, and staff. The facilitators of the information session shared past instances of tense and passionate exchanges between students and reminded us to be mindful of how our words and the intent of our message may be interpreted. A month into the school year, my inbox was overflowing with correspondence that discussed polarizing topics: Israeli-Palestinian and China-Taiwan relations, just to name a few. I was both impressed and stunned at the ardor and frank dialogue being exchanged- and that was just in one medium of communication! Discussions in classes, student meetings, and formal events are no less passionate nor less informed. The people who make up the Fletcher community are incredibly knowledgeable and grounded by their experiences, but they also welcome those who challenge their beliefs and thought processes. Fletcher’s diverse academic environment has enabled me to critically reevaluate my own positions on global issues and to challenge the perspectives I hold when interacting with those who have views contrary to mine.

My path to Fletcher: I first learned about The Fletcher School while I was applying to the U.S. Navy’s Politico-Military Masters program, which is a graduate education opportunity to study strategic and politico-military affairs offered to naval officers. Fletcher is one of the schools that the Navy partners with in this program. At the time, I did not know much about the school nor was I particularly interested since I had my sights set on another renowned Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) institution. However, that all changed when my immediate supervisor, Jamie De Coster (F’10), a Fletcher graduate herself, encouraged me to really consider Fletcher. She recounted the richness of her experiences: the impressive breadth and depth of the courses offered, the supportive and collaborative environment, and the relationships she cultivated with students who shared a common goal of making the world a better place. It sounded too good to be true, but during my campus visit I realized that everything she said was true. I left campus feeling invigorated with a renewed enthusiasm for my graduate education. Today, I could not be more thrilled to be pursuing my academic interests at Fletcher.

Favorite magazine
National Geographic

Favorite landmark
Han River, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Moment when you felt the furthest from home
Patrolling the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden at 3 AM

 

Global issue that brought you to Fletcher
Management and adaptation to the changing power dynamics in the world, especially between established great powers and rising powers

 

Best place to study
Empty classrooms---you can take up as much space as you want!

Fields of Study

International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

International Security Studies

Activities at Fletcher

Fletcher Vets

Fletcher Maritime Affairs Club

Admissions Interviewer Team

Japan Club

ASEAN Club

Education before Fletcher

Bachelor of Arts, International Affairs, George Washington University

Experience before Fletcher

Action Officer, Commander’s Action Group, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, San Diego, CA

Action Officer, CJ32 Operation Assessment, United States Forces Korea, Seoul, South Korea

Damage Control Assistant, USS Laboon (DDG 58), Norfolk, VA

Languages

Tagalog

Japanese

English