From AUP to the White House

I was born in New York and initially came to Washington, D.C. as an undergraduate to attend the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. I was drawn to AUP's MA in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution and Civil Society Development by the impressive faculty and innovative programming to include my very own dual degree Master's program with the Sorbonne. The benefits of attending a selectively small graduate program in the heart of Paris with fellow cosmopolitan spirits allows you to connect with both faculty and classmates in a unique way that fosters lifelong friendships, mentoring relationships and memories. AUP's diversity and multicultural environment allowed me to absorb and benefit from a myriad of different perspectives to all of the issues addressed in class. This diversity and multicultural approach to learning was not only limited to my classmates, but was omnipresent in our professors and their unique experiences as well. I really grew to appreciate the individualism and personal interaction that AUP students enjoy and the opportunity it affords us to pursue our own passions and interests.

In December 2011, I was selected for the White House Internship Program, one of the most competitive public service internships offered by the federal government, to work directly in Vice President Biden's Public Engagement Office. I was fortunate to have already completed my coursework at AUP for my Master's degrees and returned to the United States to accept this position and to complete my Master's thesis.

My time at AUP has greatly influenced my journey thus far and continues to have a lasting impact on my work and marketability. - Davina Durgana

In order to accomplish the field work component for my thesis on domestic human trafficking, I also accepted a part-time job with a national anti-human trafficking non-profit organization, The Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Resource Center. After successfully completing my White House Internship, I was offered a position as an Associate in the Presidential Personnel Office, which I accepted. This position extended my tenure at the White House from January 2012 through February 2013.

I began receiving acceptance letters for PhD programs in February 2012, thanks in large part to the strong, personal and detailed recommendation letters I received from many of my faculty mentors at AUP. I selected the PhD in International Relations at the School of International Service, American University, Washington due to the many similarities I perceived between that program and AUP, including multidisciplinary research support and impressive faculty. I was appointed as an adjunct instructor for American University in May 2013 and was lucky enough to teach an AU-credit course at Harvard University this past summer on "Global Public Health in Crisis" relating to global public health management systems and the challenge of transnational health risks which included my area of expertise: human trafficking.

I have also been fortunate in receiving invitations to present work from my Master's thesis at AUP and current doctoral work at several large academic and human trafficking specific conferences including: the American Sociological Association Development Sociology Section, the International Studies Association Security Studies Section, the Trafficking in America Task Force Annual Conference; multidisciplinary conferences at the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on human trafficking;  and guest lecturing in my colleague's courses on these subjects.

My time at AUP has greatly influenced my journey thus far and continues to have a lasting impact on my work and marketability. My French fluency is tremendously valuable to me, as well as my time abroad while a student at AUP. The time and attention my faculty mentors at AUP dedicated to my PhD recommendations is unprecedented among my current cohort-mates. My cross-cultural experiences as a student of French and American institutions allow me to contribute far more to discussions of the academic canon and theory in international relations. In interviewing for many competitive positions along the way, my time in France and with AUP is a strength that demonstrates our students' abilities to adapt, persevere and work independently.

First Lady Michelle Obama's Commendation of Davina Durgana.

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