Elena Volkava, Class of 2017
My name is Elena and I am originally from Ukraine and Belarus (I spent my childhood in both countries). I graduated from Centenary College in New Jersey, where I double majored in Global Studies and Political Affairs. During my junior year I was selected to participate in the Washington Semester Program at the American University, where I studied US Foreign Policy. During my time in DC, I worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and conducted research on regionalism in Ukraine, human trafficking, and gender-based violence.
This life-changing experience sparked my research interest in transnational organized crime to find the causes of numerous inequalities around the world. To this end, I pursued a field study project in human trafficking. In order to gain a European perspective, I was able to study Criminology and Social Policy during my senior year in Northern Ireland, UK.
I have always been fascinated with protest movements and nonviolent struggles around the world, and how regular citizens can creatively resist oppression and empower themselves and those around them. To this end, I worked as a research assistant at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), where I wrote about civil resistance topics in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Other strong areas of interest for me are social entrepreneurship projects and youth development.
MAGES is a perfect fit for me because of its creative and interdisciplinary approach, which allows me to pursue a regional focus in Eastern Europe while also researching human rights internationally. In addition, I plan to examine comparative politics in South America as well as transatlantic security issues while here. The MAGES program also encourages collaboration with outstanding faculty, offers opportunities to build strong conceptual foundations in numerous academic disciplines, and assists students in finding great internships.
My plan for my time here is to further develop my skills, learn from the exceptional team of scholars that makes up the MAGES community, and build collaborative relationships with my peers, which will allow me to gain practical experiences that will prepare me for a successful career with high social impact.