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.



John Lillegard

John Lillegard

Governance and Policy, 2024

United States

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.

Zakira Rasooli

Zakira Rasooli

International Peace Studies, 2024

Afghanistan

Zakira Rasooli is an Afghan human rights activist who most recently worked as a country representative for iProbono, a legal organization strengthening civil society, representing people in need and advocating for justice. In 2019, she co-founded Afghanistan Unites, a grassroots conflict transformation youth movement that promotes nonviolence and peace. Zakira has seven years of experience working for peace and women and children’s rights in Afghanistan with national and international nongovernmental organizations and institutions. She has also worked as a researcher on peacebuilding, security challenges, and women’s participation in peacebuilding in Afghanistan. 

Zakira graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration and a minor in law from the American University of Afghanistan. At the Keough School, Zakira aims to deepen her knowledge and skills in conflict resolution. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Kroc Institute Fellowship.

Ishika Sharan

Ishika Sharan

Governance and Policy, 2024

India

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

Olfa Jelassi

Governance and Policy, 2024

Tunisia

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

Fernando Ixpanel Cruz

Governance and Policy, 2024

Guatemala

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.

Emma Hokoda

Emma Hokoda

Sustainable Development, 2024

United States

Emma Hokoda is driven by her passion for human-centered sustainable development and a desire to be a culturally competent and proximate learner and leader. She holds a BS in environmental studies from Santa Clara University (SCU), where she graduated magna cum laude. While at SCU, Emma contributed to several local and global research projects in Santa Clara, Reykjavík, and Tanzania. She was awarded the Environmental Studies Senior Research Award by department faculty.

Emma has contributed to climate action and community development in both the public and nonprofit sectors. She ran community engagement programs focused on sustainability as a Climate Corps Fellow for Sunnyvale, California, and conducted donor and project research for Catholic Relief Services’ climate change and land restoration team. Emma also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the International Rescue Committee in Seattle where she provided financial education and coaching to immigrants and refugees. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Keough Family Fellowship.

Aung Myo Hein

Aung Myo Hein

International Peace Studies, 2024

Myanmar

Aung Myo Hein is a development and peacebuilding professional dedicated to helping Burma/Myanmar become a more peaceful, democratic and developed nation. As the social cohesion program manager at Search for Common Ground from 2018 to 2022, he oversaw and implemented projects to prevent conflicts and build social cohesion in different parts of the country, including his home state, Rakhine, where he sought the resolution of conflicts between Rakhine and Rohingya communities. From 2015 to 2017, he served as the program development officer for the USAID Office of Transitional Initiatives and supported local civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations in developing projects on conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Aung Myo has experience with the Early Warning and Early Response system, facilitating interfaith and inter-communal dialogues, countering mis/disinformation and hate speech, and digital peacebuilding. He seeks to build social cohesion through better governance and increase public participation in law reform and peace processes. At the Keough School, he plans to learn more theory and build practical skills to prevent further conflict and find resolutions that will create durable peace in his homeland. As a master of global affairs student, Aung Myo is the recipient of a Kroc Institute Fellowship.

Ciera Griffin

Ciera Griffin

International Peace Studies, 2024

United States

Ciera Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her undergraduate research focused on post-conflict reconciliation, modern-day genocide, and the impacts of international peacekeeping. She also served as a Charlotte Research Scholar, vice president of Model United Nations, and International House’s citizens diplomacy intern. Ciera joined the Peace Corps after college as an education volunteer, serving in South Africa and specializing in primary English literacy, community development, and monitoring and evaluation. 

Ciera began working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after her Peace Corps service was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ciera focused on improving equity and accessibility within the EPA’s hiring and outreach practices, as well as developing gender equity and career development educational programming. At the Keough School, Ciera will return to her research roots and examine the relationship between human rights policy, international peacekeeping, and international inaction. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Kroc Institute Fellowship.

Kathryn Gibson

Kathryn Gibson

Sustainable Development, 2024

United States

Kathryn Gibson is an experienced and passionate public servant. For the past two years, she has served her hometown of Las Vegas as a bilingual federal investigator with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), investigating charges of discrimination and enforcing civil employment laws. Before that, Kathryn attended Tufts University, earning a BA in international relations, focusing on economic development, with a minor in economics. She received honors for her senior thesis, which reviewed the impact of access to microfinance institutions on marginalized Ecuadorian populations. 

After graduation, Kathryn served as a community economic development Peace Corps volunteer in a rural agricultural community in Colombia. During her service, she focused on providing education on entrepreneurship to high school students. Thanks to her time living and studying in Latin America, as well as her work with the EEOC, Kathryn is fluent in Spanish. As a master of global affairs student, she is the recipient of a Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship.

Fatima Faisal Khan

Fatima Faisal Khan

International Peace Studies, 2024

Pakistan

Fatima Faisal Khan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Lahore University of Management Sciences. She has worked at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan with international donors, government officials, and legislators on two projects centered on freedom of expression, association, and religion in Pakistan. She also established a network of 3,000 human rights defenders across the country, training them on their rights and developing resources for them. She contributed to fact-finding reports and policy briefs for the organization and authored a chapter of The State of Human Rights in 2021 in Pakistan.

Fatima has been an active participant, volunteer, and organizer for the Aurat (Women’s) March in her city and supports left-wing movements for students’ rights and against enforced disappearances. As a student, she led Project KIN, a campaign in collaboration with Peer2Peer and Facebook, aimed at eradicating ethnic stereotypes in Pakistan. Fatima is passionate about social justice issues, aims to use technology as a tool for interstate and intrastate peacebuilding, and hopes to study the implications of a virtual global landscape on rights-based advocacy. As a master of global affairs student, Fatima is the recipient of a Kroc Institute Fellowship.


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