SarahJean Harrison

Alumni
USAID
SarahJean Harrison SFSU International Relations Alumni

SarahJean Harrison graduated from San Francisco State University in 2011 with a MA in International Relations. She transferred to SFSU from the Monterrey Institute of International Studies where she was enrolled in the International Environmental Policy Program. SarahJean currently works at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Communications Division of the Office of Acquisitions and Assistance. Before transferring to USAID, SarahJean was a Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Near Eastern Affairs/Iraq. She was recently selected for the USAID Foreign Service under the EXO backstop and will begin training Fall 2013.

Why did you choose the Master’s Program in IR at SFSU?

“The freedom to choose your own concentration within the program was a big factor in my decision to apply to the Master’s Program in International Relations. I wanted to focus on environmental policy, and being able to write papers on my concentration in each of my classes as well as take courses in other departments was a great benefit. My thesis topic was the USG’s response to gender and climate change.”

Has your SFSU education helped your career?

Without the dedication and support from the faculty, I would most likely not be where I am today

“The writing and analytical skills I acquired from the IR Program have been very valuable in my professional work. I was also lucky enough to have two inspirational mentors. My conversations with Ambassador Fisher regarding his Foreign Service career certainly helped me to understand the qualitative and subjective parts of the Foreign Service, the pieces that a website will never portray. Professor Clavier was an incredible advocate for the program and went out of her way to help me and the students. Without the dedication and support from the faculty, I would most likely not be where I am today.”

“During my time at SFSU, I also got a paper accepted to the 2009 International Studies Association West Conference, which boosted my CV. A large group of students from the IR MA Program got papers accepted to the ISA that year, which testifies to the quality and relevance of student research at SFSU.”

What is your advice to students interested in a Foreign Service Career?

“Join the Foreign Service Written Exam (FSWE) group on Yahoo – there are many useful resources there. Practice your writing samples, have other people review them and ask for feedback. For the final Foreign Service interview in D.C., I would say it’s most important to know the 13 dimensions and how your qualifications pertain to them; know your field; and make sure you understand why you want to be part of the Agency.”