Brian Kelly MPA ’12 graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international relations (with honors) and modern Middle East studies. In college, he interned at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of State and the Foreign Policy Research Institute. His first SINSI fellowship rotation was as the economic sanctions and energy officer in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the State Department. He spent the summer of 2009 working in the Iran Regional Presence Office at the U.S. Consulate General, Dubai, the fall of that year at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the remainder of his fellowship in the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan. He has studied both Persian and Arabic. Kelly served as a White House intern during the summer of 2011 in the Office of the Vice President, where he worked on national security issues, before returning to Princeton to complete his MPA. Following a summer in Tajikistan on a Critical Language Scholarship to study Persian, Kelly enrolled at Harvard Law School. He interned at the Office of the Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State, during the summer of 2014.
As an undergraduate focusing on international relations and modern Middle East studies, I hoped to apply my education, research and policy interests in public service, but like many college students I faced a dilemma: The positions I was interested in required graduate degrees, while the graduate schools I was interested in required significant professional experience. Fortunately, SINSI provided both. The opportunities I was offered at the State Department and the White House — reporting on Iran’s post-election crisis from Dubai, supporting the UN/AU-mediated Darfur peace talks in Doha, monitoring elections in Southern Sudan, staffing the U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, and working with the vice president’s national security team in Washington — would never have been available to a recent graduate without SINSI. This professional experience, in addition to my SINSI-funded Arabic language training in Beirut, enriched my academic experience at the Woodrow Wilson School and helped me better focus my post-graduation career plans. I could not recommend this program more strongly to undergraduates with an interest in public service.