Skip to content

Japan Travel Program for US Future Leaders 2014

Mark Buttweiler
University of California, San Diego School of International Relations and Asia Pacific Studies
Mark Buttweiler graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College in 2009 with a BA in International Studies. From 2010 to 2011, he did research through the Fulbright Association in Sofia studying Bulgarian and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms: a political party that represents ethnic minorities in Bulgaria. Following the fellowship, he moved to South Korea to teach English as a second language through the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education while studying Korean. At UCSD’s International Relations and Pacific Studies program, Mark is currently working toward a Masters in International Affairs with a focus in Economics and Korea. Mark works as the Content Director for IR/PS’ Journal of International Policy Solutions and is the incoming Vice President for his department’s Korean culture club. He also works as the Director of Marketing for Strategic Community Consulting, a consulting firm that works with non-profits in the San Diego area.  

Jenna Gibson
Georgetown University, Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service 
Jenna Gibson is a first year Master of Science in Foreign Service student concentrating in Global Politics and Security. She received a Bachelor of Journalism with majors in News-Editorial and French, and a minor in Japanese from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduating, Jenna spent two years in Cheonan, South Korea as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English as a foreign language to more than 700 Korean middle school students. There, she spent nearly as much time correcting misconceptions of Americans as she did teaching how to use nouns and verbs. Though this experience, she learned firsthand the importance of media messages in informing, or in many cases misinforming, people about other countries. With her studies at Georgetown and outside of the classroom, Jenna hopes to learn more about the intersection of international communications, freedom of expression rights and public diplomacy.

David Gitter
George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs 
David Gitter is an MA candidate at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs pursuing a degree in Asian Studies, with a specialization in Politics and Security Policy in East Asia. His research interests include East Asian security, Chinese foreign policy, and the US Rebalance to Asia. This summer, David will intern at the Freeman Chair in China Studies of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He also served as Education Dept. Director at CEDCA Corp. in Shanghai, overseeing the development of CEDCA’s new English training program. He has studied Mandarin in Mainland China under the Chinese Government Scholarship Program at Beijing Language and Culture University, and was an undergraduate exchange student at Tsinghua University. He obtained his BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Upon graduation, David plans to pursue a career in government advancing the US Rebalance to Asia.

Whitney Hoot
University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
Whitney Hoot is a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, pursuing an M.S. in conservation biology and an M.P.P. in environmental policy. Her undergraduate degree, from Barnard College of Columbia University, is in sociology and environmental science. She previously spent two years living in the Federated States of Micronesia, on the island of Pohnpei, where she worked at the Pohnpei Island Central School as a WorldTeach volunteer, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei, and the International Organization for Migration. She has conducted research on Ulithi Atoll in the FSM, studying the descendants of Sorol Atoll, an island that has been abandoned by its native population. Since returning to the US, she has worked at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the World Wildlife Fund. Her interests include disaster preparedness, global energy policy, environmental migration, and the social and ecological resilience of island systems to climate change.  

Rebecca Hostetler
University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Rebecca Hostetler is a Master of Arts candidate in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.  While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies at California State University, Long Beach, Rebecca studied abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo.  Upon her return to the United States, Rebecca worked with a Japanese recruiting agency in Southern California, and later worked for the American subsidiary of a major Japanese hair color manufacturer in Research and Development.  Upon completing her master’s degree, Rebecca plans to work in small business consulting, supporting small business operations as a form of community economic development around the world.

Nicole Kessler
University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Nicole Kessler is a Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She has a B.A. in Applied Physics from the College of Saint Benedict. Prior to attending the Humphrey School, Nicole spent four years as an environmental, life support, and thermal systems flight controller for the International Space Station (ISS) at NASA Johnson Space Center. In this position, Nicole coordinated with JAXA flight controllers on a regular basis to ensure proper utilization of ISS environmental systems. She is interested in learning more about the research JAXA is pursuing to solve environmental and energy issues, and how future international cooperation can assist in these pursuits. She is very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Japan.

Daniel Khalessi
Yale University, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
Daniel Khalessi is a master’s candidate at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. He graduated with a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University in June 2013 with Honors from the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). At Stanford, he served as Research Assistant to Professor Scott Sagan on nuclear nonproliferation and participated in Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s seminar, “Challenges and Dilemmas in U.S. Foreign Policy.” Daniel interned as a policy adviser for Ambassador Susan Rice at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the Department of Treasury’s Middle East and North Africa Division. Prior to coming to Yale, he was appointed by Former Defense Secretary William J. Perry to serve on the Student Advisory Board of the William J. Perry Project on Nuclear Disarmament. This summer, he will be retracing the footsteps of Alexander the Great through Central Asia. 

Saumya Kurup
Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies
Saumya Kurup is currently pursuing her Master’s of Arts in International Relations and International Economics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., USA. She is dual-concentrating in Energy, Resources, and Environment (ERE) and South Asia Studies. After graduating, Saumya plans to pursue a career working towards sustainable development with regards to energy and environment, particularly with the Asian region. Prior to graduate school, Saumya spent her junior year of her undergraduate studies at the International Christian University (ICU) in Tokyo, Japan, where she studied Japanese and performed Japanese folk and temple dances. She is very interested in the growing relationship between Japan and India, particularly the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project, and is interested in the impact this relationship can have on US relations with both countries and on potential tri-lateral relations.

Emily Rodriguez
University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Emily Rodriguez is a Master of Public and International Affairs candidate at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs studying International Political Economy.  Her academic research focuses on international trade policy, negotiations, and U.S. export initiatives.  Prior to graduate study, Emily completed her undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University, earning a B.A in International Studies and minors in French and Business.  She recently completed an internship conducting research on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the United States Department of State’s Office of Multilateral Trade Affairs in Washington D.C.  Currently, she is providing export-focused services on behalf of Western Pennsylvanian businesses as an International Trade Promotion intern with the United States Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service in Pittsburgh.  She is excited for the opportunity to travel to Japan and continue her research on the trade relationship between Japan and the U.S. in the advent of the TPP.

Emmett Sapp
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy
Emmett Sapp grew up in the small timber town of Darrington, Washington, where he spent much of his childhood hiking and backpacking in the North Cascade mountains. He studied International Politics at Georgetown University, and joined the Peace Corps following graduation. Emmett served as a volunteer in the slums of Paraguay’s capital city, Asuncion, where he worked on youth development and community service initiatives. Emmett is currently pursuing a Master in Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. He will be joining the Foreign Service after graduation and is excited to learn more about the US-Japan relationship during his time in the country.

Eugene Shapsyuk
Georgetown University, Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service 
Eugene Shapsyuk is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global Business and Finance at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Prior to graduate school, Eugene worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of International Affairs, on Alcoa’s International Government and Public Affairs team, and at JPMorgan Chase. He has also spent time in India and Nepal on two competitive fellowship programs that tackled economic and community development issues through social entrepreneurship, microfinance, and budget advocacy. Eugene’s professional interests are energy and trade policy. Eugene graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a BA in Political Science and Spanish. 

Clint Shoemake
Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Originally from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Clint graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Arkansas. He was named the top male graduate of his class, having been a leader on campus and in the community. Clint studied in Tanzania, interned for the U.S. Senate, worked on an oral history project with Tibetan refugees in India, and researched female entrepreneurs with Vital Voices in Ghana.  He is a Fletcher School student council representative and a Senior Editor for The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. Clint serves on steering committees for the British Consulate-General Boston and volunteers at an afterschool program. A State Department Pickering Fellow, Clint interned for the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs and he will intern with the Refugee Coordinator for Central Africa this summer. Before going to Japan, Clint will be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo researching conflict’s effects on gorilla conservation for his thesis. 

Brett Tolman
Yale University, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs
Brett Tolman, a native of Portland, Oregon, is currently a first year Masters student of Global Affairs at Yale University where he is focusing his studies on international trade and investment. Prior to attending Yale, Brett worked for a number of years in Asia-Pacific on sustainable and economic development projects. In 2010, Brett received a Fulbright Grant to Sri Lanka where he worked as a lecturer at Colombo University and consulted with manufacturing companies to create more sustainable supply-chain operations. After Sri Lanka, Brett worked for two years in Vietnam with TRAFFIC, a joint program of the World Wildlife Fund and the IUCN in their Greater-Mekong program. During his time with TRAFFIC, Brett helped to facilitate formal agreements between South Africa’s and Vietnam’s Ministries of Trade and Security to collaborate on natural resource trade and combat transnational crime.

Diana Won
University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Diana Won is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Her policy interests include diplomacy and international development. During summer 2014, Diana will serve as a Rosenthal Fellow in the Political Section at the State Department’s Embassy in Lima, Peru. Before beginning her studies at the Ford School, Diana lived in Bucaramanga, Colombia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and worked in New York City as a paralegal on issues of zoning and land use. She has traveled extensively through Central and South America and this will be her first trip to Japan. Diana holds a B.A. from Rutgers University in Planning and Public Policy with minors in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies. 

Calita Woods
American University, School of International Service
Calita Woods is a MA candidate concentrating in U.S. Foreign Policy with a functional focus on diplomacy and security and an emphasis on Japan and South Korea.  She recently completed a fellowship in the U.S. Congress, providing expertise on foreign policy matters and issues related to the United Nations.  Her professional experience includes the United Nations World Food Program, The World Bank, the Center for Community Change, and the Quaker Oats Company.  Calita is a graduate of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where she completed a Master of International Public Policy with concentrations in international development and public health.  She conducted research in Japan, which led to the publication of a paper about Japanese Official Development Assistance to Africa for agricultural research and food security initiatives.  As a 2014 Boren Fellow, Calita is looking forward to undertaking the second year of her coursework in Kyoto at Ritsumeikan University.