Rachel VanJohnson MPA ’12 started her MPA program in the fall of 2011. Before that, VanJohnson (nee Van Tuyl) was a SINSI fellow at the Department of the Army, working as a political-military foreign affairs specialist in the International Affairs Division responsible for Europe, Eurasia and NATO. She graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University in 2008 with a degree in Economics. As an undergraduate, she interned for the Department of State at the U.S. Embassies in Dublin and London. She was awarded a critical language scholarship and spent the summer of 2010 in Ankara studying Turkish.
My initial intent as an undergraduate was to enter directly into graduate school to learn everything I could about international relations before I embarked on my quest to change the world as a naïve but well-intentioned public servant. Accepting the SINSI scholarship put a detour in my plans that I would not have fully appreciated as an undergraduate student but I am grateful for in hindsight. As a Europe desk officer with the Department of the Army, every day I am faced with situations teaching me how to navigate good ideas through institutions, personalities and conflicting ideologies in order to positively influence the world around me. Working in the federal government has provided me with knowledge that cannot be taught in a classroom, an acute sense of what the military refers to as “situational awareness” — the cultivation of which has made me a more capable public servant and a stronger future student at the Woodrow Wilson School.