International affairs alumni panel helps MU students connect

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Arts & Sciences Alumni, Stephanie Greene drops knowledge on the students.

Welcoming the opportunities available not a full sentence. Sigma Iota Rho, the National Honor Society of International Affairs at Marquette University, hosted an international relations panel with three graduated students from Marquette, all with their own stories and perspectives.

The alumni in attendance were James Harvey, a multinational humanitarian program manager working in London; Oz Bwechwa, a founding member of the global youth support center organization; and Stephanie Green, Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State.

All three started their lives in different areas of the world and now are working in a range of disciplines when it comes to their respective majors. Harvey works in the private sector, Bwechwa works in the nonprofit sector and Green works in the public sector. The unifier that brings them together? All international affairs alumni.

“People in international affairs can do so many different things with the degree, there is not a very clear path. Being able to hear different options is super beneficial,” Katherine Walsh, president of Sigma Iota Rho and senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

Students from the international affairs senior capstone class were in attendance for the event. They engaged in critical listening keeping notes and asking questions.

Panelists provided insight on a range of topics. They talked about the importance of getting the most out of summer internships and their first jobs outside of Marquette.

Greene said focusing on what you are doing at the moment and making interpersonal relationships is the best thing you can do for your first job. Greene said this shows dedication and creates an avenue to meet new people.

Bwechwa’s first job was with Boys & Girls Club communicating with refugees. Bwechwa said he initially didn’t know what he wanted to do for work, so the opprotunity with the Boys & Girls Club allowed him to figure out what he was interested in.

But with joining the work teams at the jobs comes adopting a new mindset. One student asked the panel if these jobs tested their moral beliefs.

“The way they talked about how they all believe so fully in their work … and to see that reflected in the work they are choosing to do, helping the community I thought it was very clear,” Walsh said.

Greene said that Marquette did a good job teaching her to be open to all perspectives helped prepare her for whatever obstacle came her way.

Harvey said that as a gay man he has been concerned with some work that doesn’t align with his sexuality. But he said he was able to develop an understanding and openness with his job to benefit himself and his employer.

All three panelists have traveled around the world and encouraged attending students to try something new, whether it is through studying abroad or on their own terms. Harvey said his globe trotting has given him an opportunity to experience many cultures, as some chances are one in a lifetime.

Bwechwa emphasized having confidence in going about your work and everyday life. He said if you are confident it will reflect in your product and your employers will notice. He also said keeping in contact with the people you meet along the way will expand your network and open you up to even more opportunities.

But for students still studying on campus, Greene said to take advantage of office hours and get to know your professors. Also going to community events is a great way to get to know people and feel comfortable in a new environment.

Walsh said she’s already taking some of the panelists’ advice. Following graduation in May, Walsh said she plans to go backpacking in Europe at the beginning of summer and then move to Washington D.C. to utilize Marquette’s alumni network.

This story was written by Connor Baldwin. He can be reached at connor.baldwin@marquette.edu