IROnline Alumni Profile: Pax Escobar

Meet Pax, an International Relations Online student in Tennessee who believes that understanding multiple perspectives is crucial for solving the world’s problems.

Current Location: Nashville, Tennessee

If someone was looking at this program, what advice would you give?

The fact that it’s online is not a challenge—it’s actually a great freedom. The fact that you can be in school anywhere; that you can have the same professors teaching future diplomats and world leaders, even though you’re not geographically in the city; those are great opportunities to take advantage of. I’m so thankful that this was available. Were it not for this program, I would not be in grad school.

What is it that interested you in this program in particular?

I’ve always loved international relations. I love talking to people with different perspectives. I’ve always wanted to learn more about humans and society. When I saw that this program was available online, it was really the only way I could go to grad school.

In Nashville, there is only one on-campus graduate program available, and it is two years old. I felt it wasn’t right for me. I really wanted to learn from the best, so AU’s great reputation combined with a convenient online format gave me the opportunity that I wouldn’t have otherwise, without requiring me to move and uproot my life.

Did you have any hesitations about an online program?

Yes, I did have that hesitation, but my admissions advisor was amazing. He put me at ease. He said the diploma is never going to say online. It’s not that I wanted to hide it, but I do know that, unfortunately, when some people see “online,” they don’t always understand that it is the same education that students receive on campus. That was a concern, but it was something that I was willing to deal with. 

Now that I’m in the program, the virtual aspect doesn’t make me think of it being any less demanding or comprehensive. You learn from each other, and it is not isolated at all.

Is there anything that this format does better than on campus?

I think the diversity. I’ve been in class with professors in Ecuador and Korea, and I’ve had classmates from India, Haiti, and Europe. People from other countries provide a particular perspective that you don’t necessarily have in the U.S. I’ve previously been in classes where values that are American are understood and implicit. But when you have people from other places, you become aware of those implicit values, and it’s actually a challenge to see the U.S. from the outside. That’s been better than an in-person education.

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