Alumni Spotlight: Brock Mays, Current Fulbright Research Fellow
How was the process of applying for Fulbright? Any advice for students interested in applying for Fulbright?
If you aren’t a patient person before the Fulbright application process, you will be after. From the time I submitted my application to the time I arrived in the country was about 11 months – for Chris [Rigby] (another MIAGE graduate of 2019 and Fulbright recipient), it’s even longer as he doesn’t start until January. At first, the application itself looks pretty daunting, so I’d suggest meeting with the U of U Fulbright adviser, Howard Lehman, to help you understand it. He really helped me understand what the application was asking for and the importance of each component. The two critical parts of the application are a statement of grant purpose (SOGP) and a personal statement. For researchers, the SOGP is basically a two-page project proposal where you discuss your plan of where you’ll work, what’s innovative about your idea, what contributions you’ll hope to make, etc. For English Teaching Assistants (ETA’s), the SOGP is 1 page and is basically a written version of your resume. The personal statement is essentially describing why you are interested in the host country, how you’ll interact with your host country, and how you plan to perform community engagement. It’s been a while since I wrote them, but Professor Lehman can really help you figure out what to write in them. You will also need 3 letters of recommendation, as well as letters from people who know your skill level with a particular language if you’ll need it. In my case, I had letters of recommendation from employers, professors, as well as two letters for Lithuanian/Russian language skills.
You’ll develop these two documents and your letters of recommendation along with your actual application and then submit them to Professor Lehman, who will then revise them and talk about the strengths/weaknesses of your application. You’ll then have a panel review with the U of U Fulbright Panel, who will go over your application – they are really there to help you to have the best application you can. As much as it feels like a job interview, the purpose of that panel is to help you. They’ll then recommend you to someone else higher up at Fulbright, and your application will go to those making the final decision.
First, you find out you were recommended. Second, after a few months, you’ll find out if you are a semi-finalist. Your anxiety gets really bad at this stage, and it doesn’t stop until you find out if you are a finalist or not, several more months later. If you are a finalist, it means that you got the grant. This whole process went from October until late April if I remember correctly – and I arrived in Lithuania in September!
Have a reason why you are choosing a certain country. I worked in the Learning Abroad Office during MIAGE, and one of the big reasons students gave for going to a particular country was “I’ve always wanted to go there” or “it’s a cool place.” That isn’t enough for Fulbright – you should have some kind of connection there or reason you chose that country. For example, I lived in Lithuania for two years, learned Lithuanian and some Russian. Then, that area of the world around the Baltic Sea became a central focus of my studies (including the Soviet Union and Russia). Some of the ETA’s in Latvia, for example, chose Latvia because their family was Latvian, and they would use their family connection as a form of community engagement.
"One of the big things that helped in my application for the research grant was that I looked up security concerns in Lithuania – there were five or six major ones. So I chose one, decided to write my MIAGE capstone on that subject to get background information, and then applied to do research on that same subject. A foreign service officer at the embassy told me that because they were concerned about that topic and they were working on it themselves, that’s basically one of the reasons I was selected. Find issues that are of genuine interest to yourself, the United States, and the country you’re applying to."
As a Fulbright fellow, what are you researching, and what are your research goals?
There are three types of Fulbrighters – 1) ETA’s (English Teaching Assistants), 2) Researchers (usually recent grad school graduates or people doing research for their Ph.D.), and 3) Scholars (visiting professors.)
I am a researcher! So I basically have free reign to spend my day learning about my topic – it is a fantastic job! I am basically my own boss, so I have to discipline myself to get work done. But it’s a topic that I’m super interested in, so I enjoy it – it doesn’t feel like work.
My research topic is on Russian Disinformation campaigns in Lithuania/Eastern Europe and how they influence things to achieve the Kremlin’s objectives. My main goal is to determine how to better communicate with people who are susceptible to disinformation. My first few months have been expanding my general knowledge about disinformation and media literacy.
"I’ve been able to go to the state archives and find some formerly top-secret KGB documents that I’ve been translating into English, attended a conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on Media Literacy, created a little database of the most prevalent disinformation narratives from the Kremlin targeting Lithuania, and have pulled together a bunch of sources to write up a document on what disinformation is, the problem it poses, and a little on what people can do not to become its victim."
It isn’t done yet, but I’m hoping to get it published - I just haven’t decided what format to publish in. I’ve also put out a study together with the embassy to examine the media habits of people here and if they rely on Russian sources for news. We will then examine the same people in May to assess if the embassy’s outreach programs have helped them to rely on western sources instead. I’ll be doing a second related survey seeing if people who are dependent on Russian sources agree with disinformation narratives more.
My next steps after my initial phase of research will be to start doing expert interviews – I’m super excited to start that! I’ve met with a couple of experts from the university and the founder of a local group called Debunk (Demaskuok in Lithuanian, view their website here) that is a “unique Lithuania-born initiative uniting competing media outlets, journalists, volunteers for a single purpose – to make society resilient to orchestrated disinformation campaigns.” I’m hoping to work closer with them a lot more in the coming months.
What classes did you take in the MIAGE program that has helped you in your research/reach your career goals?
Global Perspectives on Counter Terrorism (and Simulation Design Team), International Law, Advanced Negotiation and Mediation, American Foreign Policy, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict, Russian language courses, Social Research Methods, International Organizations
- Global Perspectives on Counter terrorism (LAW 7789): Both the course and working on the simulation design team the following year helped me a lot not only because of the course content, but also with real life skills such as briefing a superior officer or the press, team work, and time management.
- Internatoinal Law (LAW 7910): Gave a unique legal perspective on the field of international relations
- Advanced Negotiation and Mediation (LAW 7010): Allowed me to develop really important skills as I pursue a career in diplomacy as a foreign service officer. They’re also great life skills!
- Methods of Social Research (SOC 6110): Social research methods is a MUST for anyone who wants to apply for research Fulbright. I wish I would have known about Fulbright when I took the class – we had a project to create a project proposal, and I could have just done my Fulbright one, and gotten great tips from an expert on research design!
How has living and researching politics abroad influenced your perspective on international politics?
Living and researching politics abroad has really influenced my perspective on international politics. The nature of my research has really made me more of a critical consumer of news and media, and of course, an international perspective really influences how I view my own country’s politics – what seems to be working well -- and what is not.
What is your tip for current and incoming MIAGE students?
Don’t take easy classes just to get them done. That’s something you can do during your undergrad, but do you really want to have a master’s degree and not actually know anything valuable? Don’t take the easy way out - take hard classes that challenge you. I took three classes from the law school and LOVED them. Take classes that interest you, and do research on them beforehand – there were only a couple classes I regretted taking that I probably should have researched more.
Apply for everything. Apply for FLAS, apply for Fulbright, go to conferences, do one of the spring break, fall break, or summer programs from Learning Abroad, learn a language.
CSBS Alumni Spotlight: Jeremy Lindsey
MIAGE Alumni and COO of Alpha Warranty Services, Jeremy Lindsey, was recently featured in the University of Utah's College of Social
and Behavioral Science Alumni Spotlight! We are so happy to see our creative and talented
alumns getting recognized by the university.
You can find Jeremy's spotlight here: https://csbs.utah.edu/alumni-spotlights/j-lindsey.php
MIAGE Alumna Nicole Sherwood Promoted to Director of Grants and Operations for WTC Utah
Nicole Sherwood, MIAGE alumna and formally the Grants Manager for World Trade Center Utah, has been promoted to Director of Grants and Operations. The World Trade Center Utah leads Utah’s international business development and elevates Utah’s global status to promote prosperity and build economic resilience. In her new role, Nicole will take on new responsibilities such as formulating policies, objectives, and strategies to write grant proposals and streamline grantprograms and administer and ensure compliance of national resources such as the STEP Grant (SBA), Department of Commerce (DOC), and USAID.
Congratulations and good luck!
Alumnus, Brady Harris, is America's Third Highest Rated CEO
Congratulations to Brady Harris, MIAGE graduate and former CEO of Eliot Management Group (EMG), for being awarded the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award for Third Highest Rated CEO at Small & Medium Companies in 2017! This prestigious award demonstrates excellence in employee satisfaction. According to Glassdoor, the average rating for CEO approval is 67 percent for the 600,000+ employers reviewed on Glassdoor; Brady’s employee approval rating is 99 percent, a percentage shared only by six other CEOs in his category.
When asked what this award means to him, Brady shared, “Personally [this award] validates that all of your leadership efforts are noticed and valued by employees. As a leader, it can be really lonely when you feel like you are making unpopular decisions and tough choices, and it is really easy to lose confidence and wonder if you are making an impact or not. The feedback is a huge validation.” Glassdoor co-founder and CEO, Robert Hohman, explains, “CEOs tell us the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award is one of the highest honors they can receive because it truly reflects employee opinion about the job they do every day. . .We know that CEO approval ratings correlate to overall employee satisfaction and trust in senior leadership, which contributes to long-term employee engagement,” (2017-06-20 Press Release). Just as Robert Hohman observed, this award demonstrates trust among CEO and employees.
Brady’s strong empathy for employees in all positions of EMG, one reason that they trust him so much, is rooted in his own humble beginnings with the company. When Brady first started as a 21 year-old commissioned employee with EMG in 2001, he was newly married and slept on his manager’s couch due to tight finances. Brady learned what it was like to not know when the next paycheck would arrive or to hope an account would close before rent was due. When reflecting on this experience, Brady emphasized that, “empathy is an incredible platform to lead. When leaders are able to relate to front-line employees . . . people can sense that authenticity.” Empathy as a leader has lead Brady to build trust with his employees which has allowed them to feel comfortable giving feedback. For Brady, one of the biggest mistakes leaders make is forgetting where they started and where employees currently are.
Brady’s journey from sleeping on a couch to becoming one of the highest rated CEOs in the country took many twists and turns. Brady stayed with EMG through a decade of rapid growth and expansion, holding such prestigious positions as District Sales Manager and Regional Sales Director. In 2009, Brady left EMG to “re-find” himself outside of the company. He went back to school, receiving an Associate’s then two Bachelor degrees in Russian and International Studies. As an undergraduate, Brady worked for the U.S. National Guard as an Army interrogator. Following graduation, he entered the Master of International Affairs & Global Enterprise (MIAGE) program at the University of Utah. During his last semester of the MIAGE program, the board of EMG approached him with an offer to become the next Executive Vice President of Sales for the company. From there, Brady transitioned into the President and CEO position.
Looking back at his experience in the MIAGE program, Brady acknowledged that the MIAGE program helped, “provide a technical foundation - specific to business and leadership - and sound disciplinary knowledge that have been a huge foundation to help me grow in the business.” For example, while working on projects, he would fall back on financial models that the late Dr. Steve Reynolds taught him or leadership skills that he learned from former Professor Maxine Margaritis. His favorite course was Advanced Mediation & Negotiation at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, which conducted role plays in negotiation scenarios. Brady shares that overall the MIAGE program, “gives you a great technical background that you can springboard into other things.” Brady is an incredible example of this.
You can read more about his Brady’s exciting journey and leadership advice from one of his many publications, including “Actionable Advice from Top CEOs” and “Report: Inspirational, high-touch CEOs attract top job candidates.”
Alumnus, Chandler Jordana, Becomes Executive Director and Development Director of Two Nonprofits
Congratulations to Chandler Jordana, recent MIAGE alumnus, for his appointment as Executive Director of the Sobriety Foundation and Development Director of the Ouelessebougou Alliance! The Sobriety Foundation is a nonprofit that helps adults in Utah with substance abuse disorders find successful, sustained recovery from drug and/or alcohol dependence. The Ouelessebougou Alliance works in partnership with local villagers to transform the quality of life in the Ouelessebougou region of Mali, West Africa by delivering sustainable programs in health and education.
Alumnus, Kirk Galster, Founds Global Strategy Consulting Services, LLC
Congratulations to MIAGE alumnus, Kirk Galster, who recently founded Global Leadership Strategy Consulting Services, LLC! Global Strategy Consulting Services, LLC (GSCS) is a consulting service offering strategic solutions to meet their client’s global expansion, business development, and market entry goals.
Alumnus, Macote Ambrozio, Opens Macote Entrepreneur Center in Guinea-Bissau
Macote Ambrozio, hasn't slowed down one bit since graduating from the MIAGE program. The inauguration of the Macote Entrepreneur Center in Guinea-Bissau took place on May 30. The center has been featured on Guinea-Bissau's national T.V. station (TGB) for its focus on teaching English and business principles (entrepreneurship) in an effort to reduce poverty in Guinea-Bissau. Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for semester internships at the community business center. Learn more here.
Alumnus, Kyle Gray, Publishes Second Business Book
Congratulations to Alumnus, Kyle Gray for another successful book release! Kyle Gray recently published his second business book, The Story Engine: An entrepreneur's guide to content strategy and brand storytelling without spending all day writing. Both Kyle's books boast five-star ratings and are currently available for free if you have kindleunlimited.
Alumnus Spotlight: Noah Stephenson
Hometown: Several! Born in Duluth, MN, raised in South Carolina, spent some time in
Austin, TX and Grand Junction, CO.
Career: Account Executive at Peek over British Columbia
Languages: English, German
Favorite MIAGE Course: International Law with Amos Guiora
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that life doesn’t just happen to you, you have to make life happen.” Noah Stephenson certainly practices what he preaches. After completing a Bachelor’s of Political Science at Utah Valley University and spending a summer in Belgium, he knew he wanted to make an international career for himself.
Noah was drawn to MIAGE because of the interdisciplinary opportunities it afforded him. "It was great to work with faculty and students from all different departments. People in law communicate and think differently than people in business. Understanding those differences has helped me a lot."
While still completing his MIAGE degree, Noah was hired at Vista Staffing Solutions. As an international account manager he was responsible for handling contracts with hospitals for short-term physicians. Noah says he was given this position because of MIAGE: "the role required a lot of price negotiation with Australia, and they specifically wanted someone with familiarity beyond the US."
After five successful years with Vista, Noah is continuing to create new and exciting opportunities for himself. He recently decided to switch industries and pursue software sales with a promising new tech company called Peek Pro. This “tech travel” start-up is headed by one of the most powerful people in the industry, Ruzwana Bashir, according to Forbes. Peek will soon be opening an office in London, where Noah intends to relocate.
Noah’s advice to current students:
“Education is a wonderful thing, but it’s not just about graduating with a Master’s degree—you have to be able to articulate in an interview how the MIAGE degree will add value to their company in unique ways. This is the key to unlocking opportunities for employment and career advancement.”
Best of luck with the new job, Noah!
Alumna Spotlight: Carine Foly
Home Country: Togo
Career: Casework Manager, International Rescue Committee
Languages: French, English
Favorite MIAGE Courses: International Humanitarian Law with Erika George ; Foundations
in International Affairs and Global Enterprise with Dr. Stephen Reynolds; International
Management with Dr. Lee Boam; Management of Nonprofit Organizations
When Carine Foly began the MIAGE program, she was torn between pursuing international business and international humanitarian aid. After a few of her MIAGE courses and internships with both World Trade Center Utah and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), she knew what was right for her.
"I loved my non-profit management classes. And I loved case studies of different NGOs and learning about why they worked or why they failed in providing aid. I think I always wanted to do humanitarian work, but interning with IRC finally helped me realize it. There are so many people out there in need, and I get to help them everyday at my current job."
Today, Carine supervises a team of about 12 case workers and 15 interns at IRC at any given time. Together, they serve over 1,000 refugees in the Salt Lake area from all over the world, including Sudan, Congo, Iraq, Burma, Iran, and North Korea. Most of the employees on Carine's team are former refugees themselves, and together they help some of Salt Lake's most marginalized populations become self-sufficient.
Carine is especially passionate about supporting women refugees:
"Refugee women face greater challenges than men. They tend to have fewer language skills, education, lower income, and the added burden of childcare."
Carine recently participated in a panel discussion at the University of Utah, offering her expertise on women refugees and the services they most need.
Though her work is very challenging, Carine loves what she does.
"I'll see families in grocery stores or out in the community that I have worked with and have become self-sufficient. It's so rewarding to see that happening. They usually remember me and are so thankful for the difference we have been able to make in their lives by helping them in their resettlement."
In the future, Carine would like to pursue international opportunities with IRC.
"The International Rescue Committee responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic well being, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster in over 40 countries throughout the world and 26 US cities. I'm very interested in working overseas with refugees and being part of the refugee processing and admission into the US."
To learn more about International Rescue Committee, visit http://www.rescue.org/.
Kyle Gray Featured in Foundr Magazine
Alumnus Kyle Gray is the founder of Conversion Cake, a content management service that helps small businesses and startups develop and promote more effective content, enabling them to reach a broader audience and increase their customer base. Kyle was recently featured in Foundr Magazine, an online publication and digital media business for young entrepreneurs.
Carine Foly Participates in Panel on Women Refugees
MIAGE alumna Carine Foly is a casework supervisor for the Salt Lake office of the International Rescue Committee. She recently participated in a panel discusssion at the University of Utah's Lowell Bennion Community Center on the challenges facing women refugees. Read the full article here.
Source: KSL News
Alumnus Spotlight: Kyle Gray
Current Position: Founder of Conversion Cake
Countries Lived In: Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and Thailand
Tracking down Kyle Gray is no easy task. Since completing the MIAGE program in 2014, Kyle has been an adjunct Professor, a content marketing manager, and the founder of his own start-up. While continuing to run his company, Conversion Cake, Kyle has also developed an online course to help graduate students get the most out of their degree, which he plans to turn into a book. And he’s done all of this while living in six different countries! Though currently taking a breather in Salt Lake City, he plans to move to Colombia in a few weeks.
Kyle was drawn to MIAGE because of the vast network of academic and professional resources it afforded him. An entrepreneur at heart, he took full advantage of resources like the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the Foundry, a business accelerator program which actually hired Kyle as an adjunct professor right after he graduated. One of Kyle’s favorite MIAGE courses was Social Entrepreneurship with Professor Jay Barney, where he traveled to Peru to work hands on with small business owners.
Kyle is extremely passionate about entrepreneurship, and he urges students to pursue their own small businesses. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity out there, and there are so many ways to help people and add value to their lives. Don’t be afraid to start a small business online. Do it while you’re still in school. Get your hands dirty!” He certainly practices what he preaches. Kyle began his company Conversion Cake while still a MIAGE student. His company provides content marketing expertise to entrepreneurs trying to expand their businesses. With Conversion Cake, small businesses are able to make their websites more user-friendly, increase traffic, and improve content.
Kyle believes that the University experience can be a transformative time in anyone’s life, and he urges MIAGE students to take full advantage of the tools available to them. "The best thing about being a student is having the title of 'student.' Many people are happy and honored to help students in their education if given the opportunity. So make your schoolwork an opportunity reach out to your favorite author, scientist, athlete, politician or hero.“
Recent articles featuring Kyle:
Alumni Viewpoint: 5 Tips for Student Success
Overcome Your Doubters Today: 13 Super Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Stories
Alumna Spotlight: Megan Hillyard
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Current Position: Associate Director of Administrative Services, Mayor Ben McAdams'
Office (Salt Lake City)
While deciding to apply for the MIAGE program, I found myself struggling over whether it was the right program for me. My heart told me to go for MIAGE because of the cross-disciplinary opportunities and the tie-in to international relations, which is a real passion of mine. However, since I was already working in local government at Salt Lake County, I kept questioning if it was more practical to get an MPA. I’m glad I decided to go with my instinct.
The curriculum was the first thing that drew me to MIAGE. The program gave me the opportunity to explore non-profit, government, and private-sector tracks. What became abundantly clear during my first couple of semesters is there are many intersections between these three groups. I learned that non-profits needed to increasingly function like private business, private businesses were focusing on increased social responsibility and government was somewhere in the middle. I loved being part of conversations that challenged traditional roles.
When I began my MIAGE degree, I assumed I would transition from my government job to either the non-profit or private sector. However, as I progressed in my degree my opinion about government, and the influence I could have, evolved. Since the MIAGE program I have moved through three different positions at Salt Lake County, each with increasing responsibility. Currently I serve as Associate Director of the Administrative Services Department in Mayor Ben McAdams’ administration, a role that challenges me and my perceptions about government each day. I help oversee all of the county’s internal service divisions, from Human Resources, to Fleet, IT and Facilities. We are tasked with finding innovative, cost-efficient methods of delivering quality services to our customers (i.e., other agencies within the county), so they can in turn provide diverse services to the million-plus constituents of Salt Lake County. I am perhaps most proud of our current efforts to bring greater government transparency and constituent access to county services through technology, the work I’ve done on the impending multi-million dollar District Attorney Buildings, and my efforts to promote Active Transportation within the county.
I’ve found the structure of MIAGE to be similar to life outside of the classroom. Just as I was given the opportunity to try my hand at law, business and public policy classes, each day at work I’m presented with various scenarios requiring adaptability, data synthesis, relationships with diverse stakeholders and an eye towards innovation.
Thank you MIAGE for challenging my assumptions and helping me realize how interesting local government can be.
Alumnus Casey Coombs Freed from Captivity in Yemen
Since February 2012, Casey Coombs has been living and working in Yemen as a freelance
journalist, covering a breadth of international issues including human trafficking, the kidnapping of foreigners, and the Houthi rebel group's takeover of the Yemeni government. Most recently, he reported the challenges he and other Americans were facing in
trying to leave Yemen. In mid-May, shortly after publishing this article, Casey was taken from his home
and held hostage by the Houthis. He was held for two weeks and suffered a serious
back injury before State Department officials negotiated his release. After recovering in Oman, he returned to the States and underwent a successful back
surgery. Casey now begins the long road to recovery as he rebuilds his life in the
US. Donations can be made here. We celebrate Casey's safe return home and wish him the best.
Read the full story from @theU.
Hometown: Sunnyside, Washington
Languages: English, Spanish
Favorite course: Mediation and Advanced Negotiations with James Holbrook
Current work: Compliance Communications Manager for Progrexion Marketing
Tristan received his B.A. in English Literature with a minor in International Business from Montana State University. While in Montana, Tristan worked as a liaison officer for the Australian Trade Minister at the 2011 APEC conference, and he also worked as a rating guide on the Yellowstone River. Tristan joined the MIAGE program to take advantage of its connections to many different departments in the University, and he has focused his studies on international communications and international relations. During his graduate program, Tristan worked as a communications intern at the Office of the Mayor in Salt Lake City. He now works at an international marketing firm in Salt Lake City called Progrexion. As a Compliance Communications Manager, he works closely with the marketing and legal departments to ensure that all outgoing communications follow regulatory and legal guidelines.
Hometown: Chico, California
Languages: English, Portuguese, and Spanish
Favorite course: International Management with Dr. Boam
Current work: Director of Special Committees and Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Sandy
Chamber of Commerce
Carissa received her BA in History with a minor in Law and Economics. She served an LDS mission in Brazil where she developed a passion for promoting economic and social growth. Carissa is an avid traveler; during her MIAGE program, Carissa participated in a study abroad trip focused on economic development in Peru. For now, Carissa is applying her skills in her local community. She current works as the Director of Special Committees and Young Entrepreneurs Academy for the Sandy Chamber of Commerce.
Alumnus Spotlight: Adam Vaughn
Hometown: Orem, UT
Current Position: Account Manager at Lizard Skins
I get to wear many hats within the baseball division of Lizard Skins and have influence in important decisions. I’m an Account Manager for several hundred B2B baseball accounts, I train and manage a dozen outside sales reps all over the country in addition to my personal sales, and I’m involved with marketing by creating catalog, newsletter and social media content. If anything, MIAGE teaches you to adapt. I never hesitate taking on new challenges because I know how to fill in the gaps of what I don’t know. It comes with the territory.
MIAGE prepared me well for the high level writing and statistical analyses required in my work. You can never emphasize quantitative literacy enough. The law perspective has also been useful since I’ve participated in some of the contract writing for our player endorsements. Language skills have also been essential. I’ve been able to open some doors in Italy and Mexico as we’ve started to turn toward international markets in baseball. International trade logistics and international exchange rates have also been important topics to understand for daily operations.
It’s an exciting place to be and if feels great to be relied on for the very broad skill set that MIAGE offers.