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What Great Minds Can Do: An Interview with Lauren Greenwood, M.A. '17  

Lauren Greenwood photoLauren Greenwood, M.A. '17, came to South Orange from a large state university in North Carolina, with interests in China, international negotiation, and foreign policy. In her two years at the School of Diplomacy, she developed specialties in these areas through a combination of experiences both inside and outside the classroom while forming relationships with a close-knit community that helped shape her international perspective. She reflects on her Seton Hall School of Diplomacy experience below.

How did you know that Seton Hall was the right place for you to do your graduate work?
I was attracted to Seton Hall's diplomacy and international relations program because of the smaller class sizes, proximity to New York City, and its unique relationship with the UN. I also liked the administration's proactive nature. The Director of Graduate Admissions frequently checked in with me and helped me through the process – from inquiry to registration. I joined one of the information webinars as well, which helped answer my questions regarding the program and different opportunities the school offers. When I visited the campus before enrolling in the program, it was immediately apparent to me that the School of Diplomacy is a small, but tight knit community. I found this to be true throughout my time at the School, and it was a feature I definitely enjoyed.

As an out of state student, can you tell us a little about your transition to living and studying in New Jersey? What events, resources, organizations etc. eased your adjustment? 
Although my transition to life in NJ was certainly not as challenging as it must be for most international students, coming from NC I still found there were many new things to adjust to when I moved here. I came from Appalachian State University, a big state school in North Carolina, so I had to get used to a smaller campus, but I came to love the smaller class sizes and the chance to develop relationships that are more personal with my professors. One of my favorite discoveries about Seton Hall was the diversity of the program. Having the opportunity to experience a Kenyan perspective, an Iranian perspective, an American perspective and more all in one place is extremely valuable to me. As far as housing goes, I asked the faculty for advice on what areas would be good to live in and then searched for rentals online. I also recommend using the Housing for Diplomacy Graduate Students Facebook page to connect with other students before arriving in South Orange. My second year here, I lived with a couple of Diplomacy students, which definitely has its perks, as we were able to be each other's paper editing partners and bounce ideas off of one another. I also got involved with student organizations like the Journal of Diplomacy and the GDC. This helped me to get to know first and second year students in my first semester. Through these friendships, I was also able to utilize the wisdom of the second year students in the program. Many of them had also come from out of state, so were able to offer me tips about navigating the unfamiliar streets of NJ, how to best get to somewhere in NYC, or where to get the best deal on food in South Orange.

What were some of the highlights of your international experiences in Spain's Basque Country and China? What existing skills were you able to apply in the field and what new knowledge developed abroad were you able to apply in the classroom? 
During my last semester in the program, I participated in the study abroad trip to the Basque Country. Although it was only a week, I learned a tremendous amount about the Basque people and the process of peacebuilding. One of my favorite moments was meeting with victims of the violence and as well as young university students. These discussions allowed us to have a better understanding of just how impactful the conflict was on the lives of so many Basque people, but also showed us how the new generation of Basque youth are dealing with their country's past. The conflict in the Basque Country is a unique case, but I was able to apply my new perspective on historical memory and post-conflict reconstruction to my other courses as well and draw parallels to other regions in conflict.

My time as an intern in China allowed me to explore Chinese work culture and how a Chinese think tank approaches research on Sino-U.S. relations. Through my courses at Seton Hall, I learned about Sino-U.S. relations through the lenses of Americans and other international students, but by interning at a think tank in China, I was able to better understand the Chinese perspective on the complex relationship. I was also able to apply cross-cultural communications skills I learned from my coursework for the global negotiation specialization during my time in China as I worked with a diverse team in the international consulting department. In addition, I was able to apply and hone my editing skills, which I gained during my time on the Journal of Diplomacy.

You have worked with Diplomacy faculty members in a variety of capacities. What advice do you have for students seeking opportunities to collaborate with professors outside the classroom? 
I would recommend that students engage as much as possible with their professors. Take the time to get to know the professor you are working with outside of your responsibilities and maybe even invite them to lunch. Moments like that allow you to talk more informally about professional development and life advice. Also, don't be afraid to express your interests to professors who are experts in those areas. My work with Dr. Wang in D.C. was unrelated to my Research Assistant position and grew out of a mutual interest in the South China Sea conflict. I had written on the topic for multiple projects and papers on the South China Sea Conflicts in Dr. Wang's classes and we had discussed the issues one on one. This led to him extending an invitation to join him at a dialogue meeting between Chinese and American scholars and practitioners in Washington, D.C. as he acted as one of the mediators of the conversation. I was able to watch both groups of experts present the views of their countries on the South China Sea conflict, and could watch the aspects of my negotiation classes play out in real life. 
Further, showing interest in all a professor's research projects, even if you do not have personal experience with the topics, is a great way to gain general research skills and to learn more about the field. While I was working with Dr. Huang, I didn't have a previous background in Global Health. By opening myself up to a topic I wasn't previously interested in, I was able to learn more valuable information that expanded my understanding.

What is the most important non-academic lesson you will take away from your experience as a graduate student at the School of Diplomacy? 
There are many answers I could give to this question, but one main thing I have learned is the importance of investing in those around you, whether that is your peers or your professors. I am very grateful for the wonderful friendships I have built here and I have learned so much from conversations with my classmates and professors outside of class. I think it is really important to utilize each other while you are here because it is a rare environment where you can talk about the Iranian election at lunch and North Korean nuclear proliferation over dinner. In addition to this, I would say time-management is another key skill I have developed even more during graduate school. It can be a challenging balancing act to juggle several hundred pages of reading, a paper, presentation, other jobs, and somewhat of a social life, but at the end of the day (or morning) you somehow manage to finish it all.

Highlights

  • Recipient of the U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship (2013)
  • Oral English Teacher at Northeastern University in Shenyang China (2014)
  • Senior Editor of the Journal of Diplomacy (2016-2017)
  • Basque Study Seminar Participant (2017)
  • Intern at the Center for China and Globalization (2016)
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Yanzhong Huang (2015-2017)

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • School of Diplomacy
  • (973) 275-2515
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