IROnline Alumni Profile: Patrick Nissen

Meet Patrick, an International Relations Online student in California who values the ability to attend a highly reputable school while being able to travel and keep family commitments.

Current Location: Ventura, California

What is your field of study?

I am enrolled in the Executive Master of International Service (MIS) program with a concentration in United States Foreign Policy and National Security.

Why did you choose International Relations Online?

I was searching for a program that carried the respect of the international community; however, I found that many of these required a move to the Washington, D.C. area. Given my full-time employment, frequent job-related travel obligations, and family commitments, a move to D.C. proved unrealistic. American University’s International Relations Online program affords me the opportunity to attend a top-10 school from anywhere.

What makes the School of International Service (SIS) special?

I find SIS special because it offers this program and has made it so easy to feel as a part of the AU community. Although I am 3,000 miles from AU, I feel like I am part of the SIS and have had great support from both the staff and the professors in making the most of my MIS experience.

What does the word “service” mean to you?

My definition of service entails dedicating yourself to something greater than yourself with the genuine purpose of making the world, the organization, the office, or the family a better place from your service. Serving also means having the privilege to work alongside someone or to be part of an organization that you feel is greater than you.

What world issue or current event is of interest to you?

I am currently interested in drivers of Russian aggression and the rebalancing of Russian relevance in the region.

Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak Spanish and Portuguese.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class has been The Making of United States Foreign Policy: Institutions and Processes. This class was most aligned with my interests and dug into what institutions and factors drive U.S. policy. I also enjoyed the simulations and the opportunity to see how my classmates viewed the world.

Have you taken any classes while traveling?

Because of my current position, I often travel; therefore, I must take classes on the road. I have been in the virtual classroom in five different countries (Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Costa Rica), have written papers at 35,000 feet, and have taken final exams in hotel lobbies.

How has the program helped you to achieve your career goals? What is your next step?

I am currently seeking a career change, and the program has been great in opening doors via the career center, and networking opportunities in the classroom. This program has also increased my perspective on how the world interacts and what globalization really entails.

About the Immersion

What did you enjoy the most about your immersion experience?

I enjoyed putting faces to the screen. Seeing and interacting with the classmates I’ve virtually known for the past year was the most rewarding aspect of the immersion experience.

What was your site visit like?

I could tell that much thought and work had been put into the site visits. I took away more from those visits through networking and face-to-face interaction than I ever could via any other avenue.

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