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GIST Master's Program Alumni

Some program graduates are profiled here to highlight the many ways that this degree can be put to use. The Master's in Global and International Studies was new to KU in 2001 so we're still waiting to see how our alumni will shape their careers over time.

Katherine Acosta Katherine Acosta was born in Lima, Peru and lived in Caracas, Venezuela until the age of 12. After living in Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala she permanently settled in the United States. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Sociology in 2005. During her undergraduate career, Katherine became involved with the KU McNair Scholars Program as well as the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholars Program, both of which promote post-baccalaureate education. Thanks to their guidance, she was able to selectively consider masters programs in her fields of interest. Katherine decided to attend the University of Kansas to pursue the Global and International Studies Master of Arts program because it encompassed all of her interest through an interdisciplinary curriculum. Katherine worked full-time for an educational opportunity program while completing the M.A. She graduated in May 2008 and is now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, pursuing a PhD in cultural anthropology.

Jeff Blendick, having lived in Canada, Italy, and the U.S., was interested in continuing to his education with an international focus. His undergraduate work was in foreign language, but he was drawn to the Global and International Studies Program due to its versatility and multi-disciplinary focus. He enjoyed the core classes required for the degree, and emphasized business and economics in his electives. Jeff's thesis on the East Asian financial crisis highlighted his interests in international business and economics, while underlining the fragility and volatility of the global economy. He notes that the master's degree serves his professional goals as well. As a commercial banker in finance, the program has assisted with Jeff's goal of conducting international finance projects. He completed his degree in 2007.


Program alum Carlos Centeno (left) with current student Andre Kulikov and fellow graduates Megan Cross, Nguvi Kahiha, and Dwight Goodwin

Carlos R. Centeno Carlos R. Centeno completed his bachelor's degree in KU's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2004. He then traveled to Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia where he developed a desire to help the region achieve its potential through public service, which led him to international studies. While in the master's program, he served as president of the campus UNICEF group, worked as a summer intern for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and represented KU at the World Bank Symposium on the Millennium Development Goals. He completed his degree in International Studies in 2007 and worked as programme officer for the United Nations WFP in Guatemala. Since then, he has been at the UN WFP's headquarters working on livelihoods, food for work and soil and water conservation programmes. He also is the Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellow (2009-2011) for the Congressional Hunger Center. He chose international studies for his master's degree because it allowed him to craft an individualized course of study that would have been impossible in a more traditional discipline.


Daniel Chapman completed his Master's in International Studies in 2004 with a thesis examining issues in the European Union's new foreign policy and security presence. After finishing the degree, he was accepted to be the Disaster Services Intern for the American Red Cross Washington D.C. chapter. The experience he gained in disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, and emergency response gave him the background he needed to secure a full time position. He continues to live in the DC area and works in disaster services at the American Red Cross National Headquarters.

Kimberly Gencur “A proud Jayhawk, I am a native and third generation Kansan.  Currently, I am responsible for managing relationships with local communities, members of the Kansas Legislature, the state’s congressional delegation and other community and industry stakeholders for an energy company based in Kansas.  I was previously employed by Aquila, Inc. and Sprint where I held positions of increasing responsibility, recently serving as the Director for Public Affairs for Aquila.  I also managed all legislative relations at the local, state and federal levels and community relations throughout the Midwest while managing the federal political action committees for both organizations as well. My educational experience in the program shaped my thinking allowing me to take a more global perspective to a regular day’s work. Gaining a historical perspective on global integration has been invaluable when conducting business in an ever-increasingly interdependent world.”

Dwight with fellow MAIS graduate Janet Mason

Dwight Goodwin received a B.A. in religion from Hobe Sound Bible College in Hobe Sound, Florida. After returning to Kansas City, Dwight joined the MAIS program in the summer of 2005 to enhance the marketability of his international work experience with a complementary graduate level degree. His international experience includes serving as a youth intern with an international church organization in Bolivia; working as a short-term teacher/administrator at a rural college in Ghana; completing intensive Spanish language training in Guatemala; and working as a teacher, trainer and human resources manager in Japan. Dwight completed his degree in December 2007, receiving honors on his thesis, "USAID and the Economic Growth Thesis: A Critical Assessment of USAID Foreign Aid Policies Post-9/11." He's currently working in financial services in Kansas City while pursuing a position in the area of humanitarian aid and/or public diplomacy.



Laura Gosa is the Program Assistant at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.  She works on project coordination, organizational infrastructure development, database management, communications and web support.  In addition, she provides research support to the Right to Health project and administers press monitoring.  Before joining NESRI, Laura interned at Human Rights Watch in the Americas Division, and also worked with the HIV/AIDS and Children’s Rights Divisions.  During that time she successfully wrote a Hellman-Hammett grant for a persecuted Haitian radio journalist.  Her previous internship experience includes a position at the National Coalition for Haitian Rights.  She earned a B.A. in French and European Studies from KU before pursuing the M.A. in International Studies.

Alice Hsu "I graduated from KU with my undergraduate degree in Political Science in 2003. I have always wanted to work in the international business world and thought that the International Studies Program would be perfect for helping me get my foot in the proverbial door. I graduated in 2005 with my M.A. with an emphasis on international business, mainly focusing on Asia. Currently, I work as Product Manager for a small travel accessories company. I am in charge of the women's division within the company as well as another sub-brand. I am responsible for research and development of each new product as well as its procurement, marketing, and packaging design. I am also the webmaster and translator for the company. In the fall of 2008, I hope to be entering law school with a concentration in intellectual property law or international corporate law."

Tracy Whealy Miller graduated from the program in 2005 after completing a thesis on the management of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia from an Anangu perspective. Since that time she has worked as an exchange specialist in KU's Office of Study Abroad doing financial aid advising for students going abroad and working with international students coming to KU.

Danielle Monty-Mara with her son

Danielle Monty-Mara completed the Master of Arts in International Studies in 2005. Her thesis, "Understanding the Failure of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa," focused on the debate surrounding African debt and how that debate affected the creation and implementation of the HIPC Initiative. Since completing her degree, Danielle has served as an Associate Peace Corps Director and is now the Program Quality Manager for Catholic Relief Services in Burkina Faso in West Africa. In a recent profile in the KU Collegian magazine, Danielle offered this advice to those currently pursuing degrees at KU who are interested in living and working abroad: "Learn a language, tap into the International Community at KU, start networking and plan on grad school. Look at the international job listings to see the job requirements for the positions that interest you and start thinking about how to acquire those skills and abilities."

imageLori-lin (green shirt, center) in Shanghai with the KU CIBER study abroad program in China, May 2006

Lori-Lin Shipman graduated from the University of Kansas in 1993 with bachelor’s degrees in biology and political science. After working in the private sector, she returned to school to earn a BA in secondary education with an emphasis in Spanish from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Lori-Lin taught high school Spanish in the Chicago Public Schools before returning to the Kansas City area. She is currently working in the Lee’s Summit, Missouri school district. Always having a great interest in international issues and politics, Lori-Lin decided to pursue a MA in International Studies at KU. While working on the degree, Lori-lin traveled to China with the KU CIBER program; her thesis topic, "Movie Piracy in China & Its Relationship with Intellectual Property Rights,” emerged from her experiences there. She completed her degree in 2007.

Sarah Trapp Sarah Trapp focused on women and children in Latin America during her time in the GIST program. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2004 with bachelors' degrees in Spanish and Linguistics. Upon graduation, Sarah moved to Puebla, Mexico where she took a job as a preschool English teacher. She currently works as a bilingual proofreader and translator at Kansas City-based Children International, a nonprofit organization that helps poor children around the world. Most recently, Sarah had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic and Honduras as a staff interpreter and interact with families in need. When she decided to go back to school, she was surprised at how convenient the classes were and offered this comment, much to the delight of our PR person at Edwards: "Classes at KU's Edwards Campus fit with my schedule perfectly. I can work full time, and I get the benefit of attending a well-known university close to home. The Global and International Studies Program is great, because I'm really getting the opportunity to customize my education." Sarah completed her MA in 2011.

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