Meet MGA Students


Current students and alumni from the master of global affairs program in the Keough School of Global Affairs represent more than 60 countries including:

Afghanistan; Argentina; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belize; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Democratic Republic of Congo; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; Ethiopia; Finland; The Gambia; Ghana; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iran; Japan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Mali; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Pakistan; Palestine; Peru; the Philippines; Russia; Sierra Leone; Singapore; South Africa; South Korea; Syria; Taiwan; Tajikistan; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; Uganda; the United Kingdom; the United States; Uzbekistan; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; and Zimbabwe.

Our students bring a wealth of professional experience in international development, education, peacebuilding, environmental conservation, human rights, humanitarian assistance, journalism, and other fields. All students in the class have received fellowships thanks to a number of generous families, as well as foundation support and funding from institutes and the university more widely.



Marla Zgheib

Marla Zgheib

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

Lebanon

Marla Zgheib has served as a national junior professional at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, where she enhanced the tribunal’s contributions to peace and justice in local communities. She also has worked as a volunteer researcher for Strategic Concept for the Removal of Arms and Proliferation (SCRAP) Weapons, strengthening female participation in disarmament work and using open source platforms to detect states’ activities related to weapons use.

Marla holds a BA in political studies with minors in international law, human rights, and citizenship from the American University of Beirut. As an undergraduate, she initiated a community project to reduce inequalities in the Lebanese educational system. Marla holds an MA in international studies and diplomacy from SOAS University of London. Funded by a SAID Foundation scholarship, she focused on nonproliferation and arms control in the Middle East. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Keough Family Fellowship.

Elise Verdooner

Elise Verdooner

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Elise Verdooner, a Fulbright Scholar and returned Peace Corps volunteer, has worked in international development for seven years. She is the former executive director of TEEEM, a global nonprofit organization focused on health, education, and economic empowerment. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University with a focus on social enterprise administration and international social work. Elise is a member of the global social work committee at the National Association of Social Workers and a member of the Network for Social Work Management, an organization that honored her with the 2019 Mark Moses Distinguished Fellowship Award.

As a youth development volunteer with the Peace Corps in Botswana, Elise worked on organizational capacity building, HIV prevention and outreach, and gender equality initiatives. As a master of global affairs student, Elise is the recipient of a Pulte Family Fellowship.

Matthew Talamantes

Matthew Talamantes

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Matthew Talamantes comes to Notre Dame from Washington, DC, where he worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer in youth development. He partnered with Up2UsSports and Teens Run DC, mentoring students in academics, health, physical education, and social-emotional learning. 

As a Peace Corps volunteer, Matthew served for two years as part of the community health program in Ecuador. He organized camps and clubs to promote sexual health and gender equality and co-founded the dance group Kawpi Pacha, which to this day continues to cultivate self-esteem, leadership, and overall health and wellness in the community. Matthew continues to focus on becoming a change agent in the world, a process that he started while coaching college football for seven years. He holds a BA in philosophy from Texas Christian University. As a master of global affairs student, Matthew is the recipient of a Keough Family Fellowship.

Jody Oetzel

Jody Oetzel

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Jody Oetzel recently worked as a special assistant at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, supporting work on global food and agriculture legislation, nuclear deterrence, and public opinion research. In this role, she also coordinated several consultations that led to a white paper advising the US government on global food security issues.

As an intern with a national nonprofit in Sri Lanka, Jody volunteered with reconciliation programs on the island and conducted research on disaster risk reduction and government response in rural areas. She holds a BA in international relations and a certificate in human needs and global resources from Wheaton College. As a master of global affairs student, Jody is the recipient of a Katter Fellowship and a Donald & Marilyn Keough Fellowship.

Christopher Jordan

Christopher Jordan

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Christopher Jordan came to the Keough School from his most recent position with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago, he conducted economic research and promoted bilateral trade and investment between Japan and the Midwest United States. 

Christopher has worked in local government as an outreach coordinator for the office of US Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois. In this position, he deepened relationships with diaspora communities in Chicago’s western suburbs, assisting with issues relating to immigration and health care. He is interested in the study of language and culture and has lived and worked abroad as a middle school teacher in Taipei. Christopher studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Taylor University. As a master of global affairs student, he is the recipient of a Riley Fellowship.

Cynthia Mene

Cynthia Mene

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

Nigeria

Cynthia Mene is a social innovator and co-founder of the Inspire Africa for Global Impacts Initiative, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurial leadership education for African youth. Her flagship program, Ignite Innovation Lab, has trained over 5,000 youth across Africa, funded 250 business solutions, and created more than 4,000 jobs. Cynthia has extensive experience designing, planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating human capital development programs funded by the US government (US Embassy, Nigeria); USAID; USADF; Ashoka; and other international development organizations focused on improving job access and economic empowerment of young people and women in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Cynthia serves on the board of Vetsark, a Nigerian agritechnology company focused on transforming agriculture in Africa through the digitalization of farm businesses. As a graduate research assistant for the Keough School’s McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, she conducts research on global partnership for alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship. As a master of global affairs student, Cynthia is the recipient of a Keough Family Fellowship.

Tené Morgan

Tené Morgan

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Tené Morgan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, teaching English to secondary school students. Prior to her Peace Corps service, she volunteered with City of Lakes AmeriCorps in St. Paul, Minnesota, and also with Mercy Volunteer Corps in Savannah, Georgia. She holds a BA in psychology with a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from the University of New Mexico. 

Tené has professional experience as a youth worker in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she developed curriculum, coordinated and managed youth-led virtual community organizing, facilitated youth advisory boards, and led program design. Before coming to Notre Dame, she was a program coordinator for Midwest Schools for Transformations’ Youth-Led Initiatives for Justice. As a master of global affairs student, Tené will continue her commitment to managing safe and empowering spaces for youth through the lens of dignity and international community-building. As a master of global affairs student, Tené is the recipient of a Choi Family Fellowship and a Coca-Cola Global Affairs Fellowship.

Alina Holmstrom

Alina Holmstrom

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

United States

Alina Holmstrom recently served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Community Action Network (CAN) in Michigan, where she led a team that translated outreach materials into several key languages and created an English curriculum for CAN’s after-school program. Prior to her AmeriCorps service, Alina served as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa, where she taught English to elementary students. She graduated from Albion College with a BA in international studies and French. She speaks French, Czech, and Sepedi. As a master of global affairs student, Alina is the recipient of a Pulte Family Fellowship.

Prithvi Iyer

Prithvi Iyer

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

India

Prithvi Iyer holds a BA (with honors) in psychology and a concentration in international relations from Ashoka University in India. His research examining the psychological impact of political violence in Kashmir was recognized with the Best Undergraduate Thesis award by the university’s psychology department. 

Prithvi has work experience as a research assistant for the Observer Research Foundation, an independent global think tank based in Delhi. His research publications explored the mental health implications of political conflict, the role of behavioral science in shaping foreign policy outcomes, and discourse on countering violent extremism. Along with his research expertise, Prithvi is also passionate about teaching. At Ashoka University, he served as a teaching fellow for undergraduate courses in clinical psychology and statistics. At the Keough School, Prithvi plans to deepen his understanding of international security through the lens of psychology and he is committed to reducing identity politics and hate speech targeting political minorities. As a master of global affairs student, Prithvi has been the recipient of a Riberas Orjales Family Fellowship (2021-2022) and a Donald & Marilyn Keough Fellowship (2022-23).

Marla Cansino

Marla Cansino

Global Affairs + Specialization (offered through 2022), 2023

Belize

Marla Magaña Cansino holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Belize. She is a fellow in the GOBelize Alumni Association, an nongovernmental organization focusing on sexual and reproductive health leadership. She has served as vice president of the board of directors and as a key facilitator for the Youth Empowerment Project for HIV Prevention, a project funded by the United Nations Development Programme. 

Marla worked for several years as a research associate for the Belize Vector and Ecology Center. In this role, she was responsible for rearing and maintenance of mosquito colonies, development and implementation of study protocols, data analysis, and public health outreach. Having collaborated with local and international partners in research, education, and outreach, Marla hopes to continue participating in positive change and inspiring others to do the same. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Riberas Orjales Family Fellowship.


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