“Being a #firstgen college student was something I set out to accomplish from an early age. Having parents who never finished college — and had struggles in their careers because of it — was a huge motivator for me. My parents are amazing and have provided me and my brother with everything we could want and more, but seeing their struggles put a drive in me to do even better in my adult life and for my future children. I knew getting a degree would put me on the right path to a good job and, hopefully, one that I love. I earned my degree in business administration from Thomas Edison State University, and I plan on going back to the school at the start of 2023 to work towards a Master of Art in Liberal Studies (MALS) in Industrial Organization Psychology. I’ve been with SPIA for about five years, first as a casual hourly employee with the graduate program and now as a faculty assistant. When I worked with the graduate office, I really enjoyed working with the graduate students.
Some of the students had already been with an embassy or worked with the department of state, for example, and they had these really fascinating backgrounds. I liked hearing their stories and seeing what I could absorb from it all."Alexis Runner
None of my college classes covered these topics, but now I get to study policy and international relations as an employee at SPIA and sometimes sit in on talks. It's cool to learn about something that’s completely not in my wheelhouse at all, especially current events like Ukraine. As far as the environment goes, I really love the people here. To me, it feels small because you know everybody in the building, everybody knows your name, and they know what you do. I just like the atmosphere that everyone creates. They always make time for you. They're always willing to help. If they can't help right away, they'll schedule an appointment and make sure they help you. Communication is open, everyone's friendly, and it's a good space to work.”