Ben Jalowsky

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Ben Jalowsky, AM'15

Program Analyst, US Department of State

MA Thesis: "Loyalty and Legacy: The Modern Significance of the Chaco War in Paraguay" 

I now work as a Program Analyst at the State Department in Washington, DC. I’ve wanted to work for the State Department since I interned there a few years ago. Between interning at the State Department and working there now, I went to Brazil for most of 2014 through a Boren Fellowship. The Boren Fellowship definitely gave me a lot of experience that I draw from on my current job. My research in Brazil probably made me a more attractive candidate for my current position, and will likely help guide the decisions I make going forward in my career.

Through my Boren Fellowship, I spent the year in Rio and Salvador da Bahia, very quickly learning Portuguese and then conducting research on drug policy and public security in Brazil. I’ve always been academically interested in Brazil, but due to other research interests I’d never had time to explore the country or subject of my research as much as I’d hoped. The Boren Fellowship was a great opportunity to really flesh out some of my initial interests and take them in concrete directions. It’s a very flexible fellowship that lets you really tailor your research to your desire, and not necessarily as rigid or narrow in scope and structure as other academic endeavors.  It really charged my interest in letting me talk to the people who create, administer, and are recipients of the public policies that I was interested in. It’s one thing looking at the statistics and having a political understanding of the situation, but getting a personal view and seeing the visceral ways in which people’s lives are affected lets you appreciate the field in a very distinct way.

While at CLAS, I attended an information session where Jessica Smith and the wonderful people at Graduate Student Affairs [now UChicagoGRAD] broke down the specifics of the Boren Fellowship, what it entailed, how the application worked, and how to best position yourself for a Boren Fellowship. After knowing all the details of the fellowship, it sounded like a great opportunity, so I went for it. I had tremendous help all along the way from the editorial advice on my essays to the subject matter advice from my professors. The UChicago staff was an incredible asset as I went through the application process.