John Lillegard is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and German studies. He taught English for two years with the Peace Corps in Ukraine and later served in the Montana Conservation Corps as a youth crew leader. John has interned on Capitol Hill in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. More recently, he has worked as a legal administrative specialist for US Citizenship and Immigration Services. John speaks German and Ukrainian and has also studied Russian and Swedish. As a master of global affairs student, he is a recipient of the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship through the US Department of State.
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.
Ishika Sharan has worked a research associate with the Trivedi Centre for Political Data in India, where she led projects that helped build open-source accessible datasets on public institutions and power holders in India—datasets that will help answer questions about the representation of power in the country. Ishika holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from Ashoka University, where she was a Young India Fellow. The fellowship aims to train students to become socially conscious leaders and exposes them to diverse spheres that combine research, study, and practice. Ishika majored in political science and media studies, and her thesis looked at the use of disinformation in news media as a way to legitimize political violence against minority communities in India.
Prior to her graduate studies, Ishika worked with the Akanksha Foundation, teaching students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and helping build sustainable liaisons with community members, including parents and leaders, to ensure continued support and interest in the students’ education. As a master of global affairs student, Ishika is the recipient of a Liu Institute Fellowship.
Olfa Jelassi graduated from the National Engineering School of Tunis with a hydro-meteorological engineer diploma and has been working in the international cooperation and development sector. Most recently she served as projects manager under the supervision of the head of German cooperation at the German Embassy in Tunisia. Olfa is a board and steering committee member of GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice, a global network of organizations, experts and activists working for gender equality, women’s rights, and climate justice. She’s also a member of the Women and Gender Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and she acts as regional liaison for the Middle East and North Africa Education, Communication, and Outreach Stakeholder Community of the UNFCCC.
Olfa is an international expert, advocate, trainer, and lecturer on gender, women’s rights, and climate policies, with many years of UNFCCC experience. She also co-founded an organization that leads local environmental initiatives and projects, and she was named Young Environmental Leader by the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Keough Family Fellowship.
Fernando Ixpanel Cruz graduated in 2020 with the distinction of best graduation project in the international relations program at Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala. He has worked as a researcher and a political consultant for the Association for Research and Social Studies, a Guatemalan think tank, on topics including Guatemala’s electoral and party systems, public policies, and governance. Before joining the Keough School, Fernando also provided technical advice to several Guatemalan institutions including the national electoral body, the electoral affairs commission, and the national chapter of the Open Government Partnership.
Fernando is primarily interested in studying governance models, anti-corruption efforts, and international cooperation. As a master of global affairs student, he is the recipient of a Riberas Orjales Family Fellowship.
David Campos earned his BA with highest distinction in public policy and history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021. As recipient of the Matthew and Michael L. Boyatt Award, David studied Korean political relations at Korea University. He also received the Kathy Arnold Taft Award for Leadership in Education Policy, which recognized his contribution to discussions regarding universal access to a sound basic education within the United States schooling system.
David has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and has worked with several organizations including Children’s Aid, North Carolina Early Education Coalition, and Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition – North Carolina. Campos’s work has impacted the types of resources children from high-need neighborhoods are exposed to and has encouraged hundreds of minority students to pursue a higher education. He also has helped facilitate conversations among experts across the nation to produce better ways to accommodate English language learners, an issue that affected him personally as a child of Colombian and Costa Rican descent. As a master of global affairs student, he is the recipient of a Pulte Family Fellowship.
Zhumabai Abdisalam uulu holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University and a master’s degree in politics and security from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE ) Academy in Bishkek. His main area of academic interest is political economy—he wrote both his bachelor’s and master’s theses on Kyrgyzstan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, focusing on economic impact and perspectives.
Most recently, Zhumabai worked for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development – Central Asia as a governance and policy officer for the Effective Governance for Economic Development program that was implemented in cooperation with the World Bank in the Kyrgyz Republic. He also has worked as a project assistant for UN Women, a program specialist for the democratic governance project at the Politico-Military Department of the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, and at the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Zhumabai describes himself as an agent of change and is passionate about data-driven global development. As a master of global affairs student, Zhumabai is the recipient of a Riberas Orjales Family Fellowship.
Yaryna Pysko graduated from Ukrainian Catholic University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She most recently worked as a junior analyst for Civitta, an international consulting company. She also has worked on Ukraine’s National Economic Strategy 2030 and on tourism and IT education research projects. She completed an internship at Dejure Foundation, a civic organization in Ukraine where she conducted research on law education and the juvenile justice system. She has participated in numerous volunteer projects.
In addition to speaking her native Ukrainian language, Yaryna is fluent in English and Russian, and has studied Chinese and Spanish. At the Keough School, she is eager to learn how to apply effective policy mechanisms to build a joyful and prosperous society. Upon graduation, she intends to apply her skills in the post-war recovery process in her homeland. As a master of global affairs student, Yaryna is the recipient of a Keough Family Fellowship.
Kyle Seasly was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia from 2015-2018. He spent two of those years teaching English at a rural public secondary school in Pursat Province and one year at the Teacher Training Center in Stung Treng. During his time in Cambodia, Kyle also pursed various projects: his education project about the Khmer Rouge received a Let Girls Grant; he organized the international WriteOn! competition; and he organized a WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) project that involved the construction of new hygienic facilities at O Ta Pong Secondary School. Most recently, he was a social studies teacher at Ayeyarwaddy International School in Mandalay, Myanmar.
Kyle holds a BA in history from Whitman College, where he focused mostly on US foreign policy in the 20th century. As a master of global affairs student, Kyle is is the recipient of a Donald & Marilyn Keough Fellowship.
Spencer Sexton recently completed the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program in rural Ishikawa Prefecture. Before that, he worked with international students from various countries as a designated school official for ELS Language Centers in Johnson City, Tennessee. Spencer has also studied and interned in Beijing. He speaks Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.
Spencer earned a BA in international affairs with a minor in China studies from East Tennessee State University. As a master of global affairs student, he is the recipient of a Donald & Marilyn Keough Fellowship Fellowship.
Deeba Farhat, a Kashmiri by origin, has served as an officer of the Indian Revenue Service and has worked with the ministry of finance in India’s government. As a civil servant, she has years of expertise in public finance and also has vast financial and legal knowledge in governance and policy.
Deeba has managed key portfolios in domestic and international taxation wherein she has interacted in a professional capacity with those in leadership roles for multinational corporations. She possesses diverse experience ranging from human resource management within the government to implementation of developmental programs in rural areas. Moreover, she has volunteered with organizations in the education sector, particularly those serving women. Her academic interests focus on public finance, development economics, international taxation, administrative law, and public policy. As a master of global affairs student, Deeba is the recipient of a McKenna Center Fellowship.