Introducing… a new Research Assistant!

Hello to the blog-reading and blog-writing community at AU!  I’m happy to be joining the team– this is my first blog about my new position as a research assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Whether or not you are interested in peace studies (and no, we do not hold hands and join together in song at the USIP), you may be interested to read on about the experiences that will follow if:  you are thinking of one day being a research assistant, you work or want to work downtown, you like to commiserate about the metro, you also eat vegan food on your lunch break (I do), or perhaps you are willing to be convinced that the study of conflict resolution is a worthwhile use of our time.

My name is Jesse.  I started my new position two weeks ago and so far I am really loving it.  I am in my third year of law school at American University Washington College of Law, and in my second year of grad school at the AU School of International Service.  My masters concentration is in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.  You may wonder how a law student came to work in peace studies, and it’s a long story, but to be brief– it took a while, but I finally found a career I actually care about.

Though born in the deep south of Virginia, I mostly grew up in Maryland and I still live there.  I went to the University of Maryland for undergrad and wound up majoring in Government and Politics, with a totally arbitrary rhetoric minor.  After dropping out of UMD’s Smith Business School when I realized I didn’t have to cut-throat ambition to finish that degree, I floated through journalism and communications majors before I took a government class and fell in love with international affairs.  One international law course my senior year and I was prepared to head off to law school.

I had lofty ambitions like helping great nations construct new laws that would lift them out of poverty, and working with the UN to get all the nations to respect each other and stop the wars (I was an enthusiastic anti-war protestor in high school).  Today I set my goals more realistically, but I feel essentially the same way about the potential of the international community and each of our individual capacity to bring about positive changes.

The more I learn about a particular context, the more I want to learn how to be effective there.  My position as a research assistant is the first opportunity I’ve had to study peace-building in a professional capacity and my goal is to be as useful in the process as I can be.

Stay tuned!  More to come on the project I’ll be researching, metro-ing with the K street crowd, and the scoop on weekly events at the USIP!


The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policy positions.