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Bush School Hosts 15 Fulbright Students

October 27, 2016

The Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, enrolled seven Fulbright scholars this fall, with another enrolling in the spring. The students represent countries spanning the globe, including Austria, Mongolia, and Afghanistan.

The Fulbright students bring a global perspective and a wealth of experience to their respective International Affairs and Public Service and Administration programs. With the addition of eight new students this year, the Bush School hosts a total of fifteen Fulbright students with backgrounds in foreign trade, human resources, public relations, and business development. Irina Arabidze, a first-year Fulbright student from Georgia, came to the Bush School after earning a master’s degree in international relations and European studies and plans to study national security and diplomacy while attending the Bush School.

“Being in the Bush School allows me to broaden my understanding of national security and diplomacy issues from an American perspective, which I believe will propel me to pursuing my ambition of public service upon my return home,” said Arabidze. “[The] Bush School stood out to me because of its rigorous academic programs, highly dedicated faculty and staff, and an important focus on the practical applicability of the acquired knowledge.”

Bush School Dean Mark Welsh is proud to welcome the students to Texas A&M and the Bush School. “It is an honor to enroll this many outstanding Fulbright students in our programs,” said Welsh. “These students select the Bush School from a range of other graduate programs in the US because of our high-caliber curriculum and faculty, and seek to become practitioners in public service. They represent diverse professional backgrounds and will provide a unique perspective toward international affairs. Our students and faculty look forward to learning from them.”

The Fulbright Program began in 1946 and is operated by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The highly competitive program provides grants to students seeking to study, teach, or research either abroad or in the US in an effort to build international partnerships through education.

Below is a brief biography of the current Bush School Fulbright students.

María “Gabriela” Araujo

María “Gabriela” Araujo

María “Gabriela” Araujo (MIA, Class of 2017) is a Foreign Service officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador. She served as chief trade officer in Central America for almost six years, where she was responsible for promoting the expansion of Ecuador’s foreign trade and fostering new investments from Central American financiers. Gabriela has two graduate certificates, one in foreign policy and one in international negotiations. In 2002, she earned her degree in business administration from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (Ecuador). Gabriela will attend the Bush School as a Fulbright Scholar. A devotee of splendid Guatemalan coffee and lavish Ecuadorian chocolate, Gabriela is a natural promoter of Latin American wonders. Above all, she is a proud mother of twins and admirer of her supportive husband.

Buyandelger Davaajantsan

Buyandelger Davaajantsan

Buyandelger Davaajantsan (MIA, Class of 2017) received a BA in international relations from the School of Foreign Service (now the School of International Relations and Public Administration) at the National University of Mongolia (Mongolia) in 2012. He was an active member of AIESEC Mongolia, taking on leadership positions and organizing English language clubs to help students develop their English skills. Through a war game that he and his friends developed at the School of Foreign Service, he has helped foster the strategic thinking and negotiation skills of his juniors. In summer 2011, Buyandelger interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia, where he assisted in the organization of a major international and domestic conference. He speaks Mongolian, Russian, English, German, and French, and attends the Bush School as a Fulbright Fellow.

Abdullah Qayomi

Abdullah Qayomi

Abdullah Qayomi (MIA, Class of 2017) earned a bachelor’s in business administration in 2011 and is currently teaching as a part-time lecturer at Kardan University, Kabul (Afghanistan). Abdullah has a strong working background with the Afghan government. In his current role, he works for an international organization to manage funding resources and support Afghan justice institutions like the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Attorney General’s Office. In 2008, Abdullah voluntarily designed and led an initiative for Afghan youths focused primarily on helping girls with employment. In 2012, Abdullah visited the US under the Afghan Junior Faculty Development Program to learn about US culture and the higher education system. He speaks four languages fluently and attends the Bush School as a Fulbright Fellow.

Said Azam (MPSA, Class of 2017) earned his BA in political science and public administration at the American University of Afghanistan (Afghanistan) in December 2012. He has served as director of communication at the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, Islamic State of Afghanistan, and as spokesperson for the Election Commission during the country’s first-ever democratic elections. He was among three Kabul-based correspondents reporting to international media during the last year of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In 2002, he helped the Afghan government design and implement public awareness campaigns for introducing a new national currency, Afghani, that replaced currencies that had been introduced by various fighting groups. Said is fluent in Pashto, Persian, and English languages and is interested in geo-political developments in the greater Middle East, particularly in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Sanzhar Baizhanov

Sanzhar Baizhanov

Sanzhar Baizhanov (MPSA, Class of 2017) graduated from Gymilev Eurasian National University (Kazakhstan) with a BS in political science in 2012 and an MS in January 2014; his focus was in self-regulatory and nongovernment organizations. As an undergraduate, Sanzhar was also a squad/platoon leader in the military, serving as a lieutenant for two years. Additionally, he volunteered or interned in a number of capacities: as a volunteer-observer during preliminary elections, as an intern at both the JSC Center for International Programs and the Institution of Social and Political Research, and as a research assistant at Istanbul University. Since 2014, Sanzhar has worked as a senior manager at Kaspi Bank JSC. He speaks Kazakh, Russian, and English, and attends the Bush School as a Fulbright Fellow.

Bashir Ahmad Baseem

Bashir Ahmad Baseem

Bashir Ahmad Baseem (MPSA, Class of 2017) completed his undergraduate studies in political science and public administration at the American University of Afghanistan (Afghanistan) in 2014; he also earned a certificate in law and was active on campus as a member of the university debate team. Bashir currently serves Afghanistan as senior human resources advisor for the Ministry of Defense. He has also gained invaluable experience working as a human resources advisor for the Ministry of Interior and a human resources section-director for the Deputy Ministry of the Interior in Afghan Public Protection Force as well as in senior human resources roles in various other national and international organizations in Afghanistan. Bashir attends the Bush School as a Fulbright Fellow to study public management. 

María José Vaca

María José Vaca

María José Vaca (MPSA, Class of 2017) is an Ecuadorian student who graduated in 2012 from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (Ecuador), majoring in economics. She was a student member of the Faculty Council and was class valedictorian. Her graduating research project centered on the impact of social cash transfers on the labor supply of beneficiaries; it was published by her university in 2013. Since 2011, María has worked in consultancy projects focusing on a variety of topics: macro consistency models, sectorial analysis, risk behavior through score models, and input-output matrices. In 2014, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study for her master’s degree. In addition to her mother tongue, Spanish, María also speaks English and French.

Irina Arabidze

Irina Arabidze

Irina Arabidze (MIA, Class of 2018) comes from Tbilisi, Georgia. She earned a BA in public relations from the Georgian Technical University (Georgia) in 2006 and an MA in international relations and European studies from the Central European University (Hungary) in 2007. After graduation, Irina worked with several international organizations in Georgia, including the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission and the UNHCR Emergency Response team. Following the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, she joined the EU Monitoring Mission, where she helped oversee the implementation of the ceasefire agreement. She has served as a press and public information officer; a media monitor; and, later, as a daily political briefer for the Head of Mission and senior management. Irina has developed a particular passion for working for her country’s security and helping maintain peace in volatile regions.

Najibullah Gulabzoi (MIA, Class of 2018) was born in a remote village in the northeastern part of Afghanistan. He studied political science and public administration at the American University of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), graduating in 2014. He received the AUAF President’s High Honor Awards for academic excellence over several semesters. Najibullah has been working in a variety of positions since 2006: he served as a program officer for the International Labor Office, a counter-narcotics adviser with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an adviser for the Norwegian Ambassador, a national officer with the United Nations Development Programme, and a special assistant with the UN Women in Afghanistan. Najibullah’s work has taken him to Italy, India, Switzerland, Thailand, and France. He is married and has four children—two daughters and two sons.

Nike Pulda

Nike Pulda

Nike Pulda (MIA, Class of 2018) completed her BA in political science in February 2012 and her MA in political science in 2016 at the University of Vienna (Austria). She has worked for more than three years as a freelancer at the Federal Austrian Chancellery; completed internships at various governmental and nongovernmental institutions, which include the Austrian Ministry of Defense, Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Austrian Institute of International Affairs; assisted in the organization of several departmental seminars at her university; and published several articles. Professionally, Nike enjoys attending international relations-related symposia and conferences, but her personal interests include attending concerts and museums, reading, skiing, and jogging.

Lela Akiashvili

Lela Akiashvili

Lela Akiashvili (MPSA, Class of 2018) earned a bachelor of international law from Tbilisi State University (Georgia) in 2012. She spent her junior year on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and is currently pursuing a master of international law at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, expected in 2016. Lela has rich experience in a number of spheres: governmental (prosecutor’s office), nongovernmental (founder of a youth organization, worked for women’s and children’s rights), and international (UNICEF). In 2011, Lela founded a region-wide campaign to raise awareness about women’s property rights. Lela has participated in more than thirty trainings worldwide and is an international youth trainer. Her hobbies include film-production and wedding planning. She has a long-term vision about how to improve democracy in her country and plans to implement her ideas in time.

Megi Llubani

Megi Llubani

Megi Llubani (MPSA, Class of 2018) earned a BA in political science in 2010 from the University of Tirana (Albania) and a BA in international relations and MSc in strategic studies in 2011 and 2013 from the European University of Tirana (Albania). In 2011, she began work as a research assistant for a leading think tank, the Albanian Institute for International Studies, in the area of democratization and European integration. Since November 2015, Megi has been an external researcher for UNDP Tirana, UN Women, Transparency International, and OSCE/ODIHR, working on issues of local democracy, political analysis, gender issues, and more. In early 2016, she interned at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, working with the country director on political party finance. Megi is a founding member of the Albanian Platform for Policy Advocacy, a group of young activists monitoring the work of the Albanian government.

Metra Mehran

Metra Mehran

Metra Mehran (MPSA, Class of 2018) majored in political science and public administration with a minor in law at the American University of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), graduating in December 2014. Metra was president of the debate club and vice president of SGA; and she served as a resident adviser, a writer for the school newspaper, and a student body representative to a campus board. She was also active in her community, working with different NGOs and service projects. Since graduation, Metra has been director of the Civil & Liberal Initiative for Peace and is cofounder and vice president of New Motion Campaign Management and PR Consulting. Currently, she works as program manager at DFID Afghanistan, where she manages grants for nonprofits that primarily focus on women empowerment, human rights, justice, media, and political accountability, the same areas she wants to promote. 

Munkhzul Tumur-Ochir

Munkhzul Tumur-Ochir

Munkhzul Tumur-Ochir (MPSA, Class of 2018) is a Mongolian national who earned her BA in British and American studies from the National University of Mongolia (Mongolia) in 2007 and a BBA in financial management from the Institute of Finance and Economics (Mongolia) in January 2012. Munkhzul has held several positions, mostly related to administration and business development, in both the private and public sectors. While working as the coordinating consultant at the Multi-Sectoral Technical Assistance Project implemented at the Ministry of Finance, Mongolia, she became passionate about efficient policy making at all levels of the project. This, she believes, should be fundamental in establishing transparency and efficiency in Mongolian public policy making. In her free time, Munkhzul loves working out in the gym.

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