Four years ago, Meaghan Waff, F21, was at a crossroads. She didn’t know if she should accept a Fulbright Scholarship to work abroad for the first time, teaching English in Malaysia, or go directly to graduate school to pursue her Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy. Luckily, The Fletcher School made her decision easy, offering her the chance to work for two years before enrolling as part of the Map Your Future program. “Fletcher’s flexibility is what sold me,” Waff says. Here she shares her early interest in international relations, her proudest accomplishment at Fletcher, and her hopes for the future.
International from the start “I grew up a military child in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, so to me, international relations was a way to encourage peace and use diplomacy as a first line of defense. Also, my friends growing up were all immigrants or children of immigrants, and I was always surrounded by people speaking different languages, so I wanted to continue that experience. By middle school, I had set up an informational interview with someone who was the CIA liaison to the Pentagon.”
Including the marginalized “I’m proud of co-chairing the Decolonizing International Relations conference, which was in its third year as of 2020. The conference looks at the Euro-centric basis for international relations and how academia and practitioners can rethink and include more marginalized communities. I love that it creates a space where everyone can get uncomfortable and talk about difficult subjects—while making it clear that it is a safe space to talk about these issues.
“We usually bring in around 300 participants in person, but because of COVID, we moved the conference online and had 852 registrants from six continents this year. Our team brought in amazing speakers such as Robbie Shilliam of Johns Hopkins to do our keynote, and we had panels about native peoples, global public health, climate injustice, and more.”
Aiming for State “Fletcher solidified my hope to work at the U.S. State Department. Last year, Philip Beekman was the diplomat-in-residence and he hosted various events throughout the year about applying for State Department jobs. He also helped us figure out issues with security clearances for speakers at our conference. His openness and candor were amazing. We also had a fellow who ran a course over the summer specifically for writing State Department memos. It’s great to be prepared to go into the workforce with that very specific set of knowledge.”
Smitten with cyber “I worked with Assistant Professor Josephine Wolff over the summer doing research and she has been a great inspiration, particularly for pursuing tech policy. Cyber security was an area that I had no knowledge of before coming to Fletcher, and after I took a class with Professor Wolff, I was in love with the field. For security studies, cyber security is one of the big fields that’s up and coming. We need comprehensive national policy to respond, and I hope to play a role.”