MSFS Student Representatives: An Inside Look

by Kristen Voorhees, MSFS Communications and Events Coordinator

Beyond the busy class schedule the Master of Science in Foreign Service students endure their two years at Georgetown, one will find a tight-knit community of young professionals eager to expand their knowledge and experience both inside and outside the classroom. The faculty and staff dedicate their time to creating opportunities for students to learn in varying environments, but the students themselves play a crucial role in driving their own futures in international affairs. One integral part of this community is the role of the student representatives.

These classmates represent the interests and concerns of the MSFS student body to the leadership team. Reps meet monthly with MSFS staff, coordinate events and activities for their classmates, and communicate regularly with the student body. Three current student reps, Ross Hollister, Barbara Dourley, and Dylan Clement, reflect on the first year in their roles, and give advice to those interested in following suit.


What initially motivated you to run for a position as student representative?

DYLAN: I was motivated to run for student rep because it afforded me an opportunity to engage with my classmates on a deeper level than I otherwise could.  Additionally, I sought an experience through which I could develop my skills in leadership, management, and "politics."

BARBARA: I decided to run for a student representative position because I have always enjoyed advocacy roles and I thought it would be a valuable opportunity to further develop my advocacy skills. I also think that one of the great benefits of the MSFS program is the strong sense of community, and I wanted to contribute to further strengthening that sense of community as a student rep.


What has your first year as student rep taught you?

ROSS: How to lobby for curricular change while remaining sensitive to the priorities and concerns of faculty and staff. To be very careful with language, especially in a communications role, knowing that many critical minds will pay attention to one’s tone and perspective.

BARBARA: My first year as a student rep has made me realize how multi-talented and proactive MSFS students are. It is clear that students really care about the program and they take the time to give insightful feedback about their experiences. Furthermore, students take the initiative to come up with new and creative ways to make improvements or fill gaps that they see in the program’s offerings.


Why is the position of student rep important to the MSFS program?

ROSS: Student representatives channel the energies, interests and desires of their class in constructive ways, facilitate communication between the MSFS administration and student body, and foster a vibrant social life within the program.

BARBARA: The MSFS student reps are important to the MSFS program because they serve as the advocacy and communication channel between MSFS students and the MSFS leadership team. We identify issues and highlight them to the MSFS leadership during our monthly meetings. We also work to source ideas from MSFS students for improving the student academic and social experience, and develop recommendations.


What is the most rewarding aspect of representing your MSFS class?

DYLAN: Corny answer here - but I feel gratified in knowing that the student reps put in time, energy, and effort into making the MSFS programs a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience.  And that oftentimes that work can go unrecognized.  

BARBARA: The most rewarding aspect of being a rep is having the opportunity to contribute to strengthening the MSFS community, which is one of the strongest features of the MSFS program. I also really enjoy spending time with my fellow reps, which is another important benefit of being a rep.


What is one goal you have for your coming year as student rep?

DYLAN: This upcoming year, I'm focused on bringing first and second year students together as well as looking for ways to broaden the appeal of student rep-led events to all MSFSers.

BARBARA: My main focus this year will be on improving the student experience with language courses and the proficiency process and continuing to work on the Walsh Student Council to enhance representation of all SFS students to the dean. As well, as a student rep team, one of our main goals is to promote cohesion between the first and second year classes through ongoing events and opportunities that will enable the two years to get together and bond.


What is your advice/motivation to those interested in running for student rep?

ROSS: Go for it. It is a major time commitment, but an invaluable learning experience and a way to better understand the broader thinking that informs management of a premier international affairs program.

BARBARA: If you are even a little bit interested in running, run. Even if you don’t win, running in the election is a good experience and will give you some profile in the program. And if you are elected, you will have the opportunity to represent your class and build relationships with the members of the MSFS leadership team. Also, being a rep is interesting work and fun.


As elections approach, the MSFS class of 2018 will choose those students that will represent their perspectives, concerns, and ideas to the MSFS leadership team, and the Georgetown campus as a whole. Click here to learn more about the student representatives.