Erica Ruth Kelly

Why are individuals drawn to the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Master of Global Affairs (MGA) program? “I wanted a balanced mix between the practical and the theoretical,” says graduate Creed Atkinson. Fellow MGA candidate, Trinh Theresa Do, says she was attracted by the questions the Munk School was asking about complex problems, while Michele Donne says that she was looking for something interdisciplinary that had hands-on experience and a global internship program. “It seemed almost made for me,” says Donne.

Atkinson, 27, wanted to build on his background in finance and expand into the field of international relations and security. During his internship as an advisor in the Ministry of Economic Development’s Investment and Industry division, he explains that he created an industry landscape on the medical marijuana industry in Canada, which was later presented at the investment and industry annual meeting. “I was cyber security research assistant for Professor Jon Lindsay and this led to the beginning of my career now,” says Atkinson, who will be the first cyber security analyst for the new Office of the Provincial Security Advisor with the Ontario Public Service. “It’s going to be quite an exciting time,” Atkinson says of being part of the office’s foundation.

Before coming to the Munk School, Donne, 24, was working at a charity. She wanted a master’s degree that would help her find employment related to problem-solving and strategy. Through the MGA program, Donne interned at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. The IOM was fully transitioning into the United Nations structure at the time. “I could see that people both in the UN and in the IOM didn’t understand what the Labour Mobility and Human Development department did. I could see the potential for our efforts to be sidelined,” says Donne. She thus took the initiative to write concise, two and three-pagers on the richness of their unique work. Other departments followed her lead. Donne says this initially intimidating experience, along with a semester-long position in a thought leadership team at Royal Bank of Canada, expanded her idea of the different types of entry points into sustainable development. “It was very heartening to speak with people who were so genuine in these big, high positions,” says Donne. Her own genuine letter of appreciation to Cheesan Chew from Idea Couture, whom she saw speak on a Munk Career Week panel, organically grew into the type of employment she was seeking: she joins their strategy team in July.

Before coming to the MGA program, Do, 26, was a senior writer at CBC News and a reporter at CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. She wanted to bridge the gaps in her knowledge about politics and economics. As an MGA intern, she was a junior trade policy officer at Global Affairs Canada where she developed a policy paper on Canada’s new Progressive Trade Agenda. “I specifically examined bilateral investment treaties,” she says. “The MGA program has given me a lot of confidence outside my abilities to write, or to put together a TV or radio piece.” Throughout the program, she says, she had access to engage with such noteworthy people as David Frum, political commentator and former speechwriter to George Bush; Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, and Justice Rosalie Abella, both members of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Do says the biggest value of the MGA program, outside of her courses and internship, has been her classmates. “I just feel so lucky to know that if I need any help in any way, these people have my back. To have that sense of support was so uplifting,” she says. Donne and Atkinson expressed similar sentiments. “It was really a different experience working with people who are all passionate about being here,” Donne says, while Atkinson noted the program made him realize the only way to change the world was through community: “I need to work with a lot to great people to do that.”

The MGA Class of 2017 graduates on Friday, June 9. Watch the live stream from 10am-12pm EST and use #MGAGrad17 and #UofTGrad17 on social media to share your convocation moments!

June 9, 2017