This year we connected with a group of students selected as Dean’s Fellows, a special distinction that serves to signal the professional qualities of excellence that the School cultivates and honors
By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
At the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), we attract the brightest and boldest graduate students from across the globe. From humanitarians and environmental heroes to Chinese scholars and policy experts, we recognize our Dean’s Fellows for their excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship and regional involvement.
These global citizens are an example to the world, for their outstanding performance and commitment to advancing the Pacific Century. Read below as we get to know four of this year’s distinguished talent.
Jerin Tan, BA/MIA ‘19
Tackling International Issues and Management
“I have always enjoyed studying foreign languages. My family is Chinese-Singaporean and I grew up exposed to various Chinese dialects. In high school, I took classes in Spanish and Japanese, eventually growing interested in the cultures of Latin America and Japan as well. For me, GPS was a perfect fit because it would give me exposure to all my regions of interest.
I knew about GPS since my first year as an undergraduate student at UC San Diego. When the school announced a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program for my International Business major, I jumped at the chance to apply. The program was also practical since it allowed me to graduate in five years with both degrees.
At GPS, I am studying International Management with regional focuses in Southeast Asia and Latin America. In the future, I am looking to work outside the U.S. in corporate social responsibility, specifically in the global supply chain. My goal is to encourage more private sector involvement in tackling international issues.
At GPS, the faculty, career services team and staff are extremely supportive and provide us with all the attention we need. I’ve also loved spending time with my classmates, who are of various nationalities and backgrounds. As vice president of events in GO GPS, I have gotten the chance to interact with the diverse community. From organizing the annual talent show to networking with undergraduate students, I’ve enjoyed finding ways to connect everyone. Overall, I am very glad that I made the decision to join the BA/MIA program.”
Michael Johnson, MIA ‘19
Engineering Data Driven Solutions
“My background is in mechanical engineering, primarily technical work in aerospace and energy systems. My interest in GPS stemmed from what I saw as an information gap within myself in regard to certain foreign projects that I was involved with. Coming to GPS was a clear choice after learning of how deeply the program went into developing analytical skills. I am impressed daily, not only by the staff and professors at GPS, but also by my peers at the breadth of experience and knowledge they exhibit.
GPS has helped me to develop a new lens in which I can approach technology for development. I saw a need to understand instrumentally how developing nations I was working with came to be in hopes of better understanding how I can make an impact, outside of strictly being a technical engineer. My experience as an engineer also led me to choosing Latin America as my regional focus. While in South America I realized that I needed to refine my skills outside of technical design to better develop effective solutions in the communities I was serving.
I continue to grow each day and use the tools from GPS to become a more effective engineer and analyst. I am currently on the board of InterAction that was founded by our classmate, Elizabeth Linn. This organization discusses issues within the local community and organizes volunteer events which has helped me to stay involved in this new community I find myself a part of. Additionally, my involvement with Fraym—a firm focused on revolutionizing data-driven decision making in Africa—and others like them, constantly challenges me with new information and guides my development of global perspectives that will allow me to advance in my career.”
Charlie Vest, MCEPA ‘19
Innovating Chinese Research and Scholarship
“I’m a member of the first cohort of the MCEPA program, focusing on innovation and environmental issues in China. After spending five years studying and working in China, I started looking for a graduate program to get the quantitative skills and job connections to take the next step in my career. The MCEPA program stood out because of its small size and its rigorous curriculum taught by the country’s best faculty and researchers in Chinese studies.
Much of what makes GPS such an interesting place to study actually takes place outside the classroom. I serve as the editor-in-chief of China Focus, a student-run publication of the 21st Century China Center, GPS’s in-house China think tank. It’s been a great privilege to work with them to bring in visiting speakers and help GPS students publish their writing.
We’re very lucky to have a strong career services team helping students get internships and jobs around the world. I spent the summer interning in Washington, D.C. at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), helping their team execute research on U.S.-Asian trade, economics and environmental issues. That experience showed me how well GPS prepares students for careers in D.C. and around the globe. That’s definitely a good thing for my career prospects, but I’ll admit it will be hard to leave such a great community here.”
Isabelle Heilman, MPP ‘19
Advocating for Energy and the Environment
“I was drawn to GPS because it checked all of the boxes: strong in environmental and energy policy, strong in Latin America, especially Mexico and a place where I would be happy to live for two years. I’ve found GPS to be an incredibly collaborative and supportive environment. One of the ways in which I’ve seen this is through the emphasis on working in groups. Almost every class has some kind of group project element and our professors usually encourage us to work in groups for our homework. My colleagues have such diverse backgrounds and I learn so much from them when we work together.
I am very much my parent’s child, and the majority of my interests and career paths have been marked by them. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona with a Mexican mom and an American dad. My mom is a Spanish teacher and translator and my dad is a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From my upbringing to now, my studies have been centered around the environment and Latin America. After college, I went to Mexico with a Fulbright grant to study state-level climate change action plans. With strong ties to both energy and environmental policy, I hope that I can continue those specializations in my career.
While at GPS, I’ve been involved in clubs at GPS and the greater UC San Diego. I’ve been a part of Food Recovery Network at UC San Diego, which combats food waste by donating leftover food to Urban Street Angels, a shelter for homeless youth in San Diego. I am also on the board for the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) at GPS. So far this quarter we’ve hosted a “Spanish table” for students to practice their Spanish and speak with native speakers, and the annual First Year vs. Second Year soccer game. We have a really active and engaged first year class, so I’m looking forward to working with them more and continuing to build community at GPS.”
Heilman is also a Robertson Foundation for Government fellow.
2018-19 Dean’s Fellows include:
- Savitri (Savi) Arvey, MPP ’19
- Valeria Buelna Sainz, MPP ’19
- Isabelle Heilman, MPP ’19
- Samuel (Sammy) Huang, MIA ’19
- Michael (Mic) Johnson, MIA ’19
- Regan Kwan, MPP ’19
- Jae Ho Lee, MIA ’19
- Jane Lee, MIA ’19
- Elizabeth Linn, MIA ’19
- Caio Mansini, MIA ’19
- Anh Nguyen, MIA ’19
- Jessica Patrick, MPP ’19
- Ha Pham, MPP ’19
- Andres Prieto, MPP ’19
- Meghan Ramsey, BA/MIA ’19
- Carmen Sainz Villalba, MPP ’19
- Jerin Tan, BA/MIA ’19
- Jacob Throwe, MIA ’19
- Alyssa Tutterow, MPP ’19
- Charles (Charlie) Vest, MCEPA ’19
- Kangyu (Mark) Wang, MIA ’19
- Qiuyi (Vivian) Wang, MIA ’19
- Alexander (Alex) Webb, MIA ‘19
- Randall (Randy) Wilde, MPP ’19
- Nicolas (Nic) Zinter, MIA ’19
The students’ responses included here have been shortened and edited lightly.