Student Spotlight: Valeriya Lockwood

International Relations Online at American University offers students the chance to study international relations from anywhere in the world. Current student and Maryland resident Valeriya Lockwood sat down with us to discuss her passion and what exactly drew her to the program.

“I started the program for several reasons, but one of them was to look for new career opportunities. I actually achieved this goal and my current employer made it clear that part of the reason [why I was hired was because] I am currently [enrolled] in this program with American University.” — Valeriya Lockwood

AU: Why did you decide to pursue the International Relations Online with AU program? What specifically drew you to the program? What excites you most about it?

Valeriya: I have always been interested in international relations and have seen myself pursuing a career in this field. American University is a very well-known and respected institution in Ukraine (where I am from) and the program has been on my radar for a while. I lived in Hampton, Virginia, at the time I started seriously considering earning my master’s degree, so driving to Washington, D.C., was not an option (it is a 4-hour drive without traffic). At the same time, I wanted a degree from a high-ranked university, a degree that will help me to advance and achieve my career goals. One day I noticed an ad in Foreign Affairs magazine and decided to learn more about the online program. I had a great experience with my student advisor, Natasha, who helped me get all the information I needed and actually enroll in the program. For some reason, it is so easy to think about continuing education, but it is much more difficult to go ahead and do it.

I have no regrets about my decision to choose the International Relations Online program at AU. First of all, the program is designed to be a learning experience similar to what we would experience on campus. We have live sessions and discussions, and we are involved in various group activities, but at the same time I can be somewhere in Montana or Paris (I do travel a lot for work) and still attend my class. The student support staff was always there to address our questions and concerns from the academic side. During our very first semester, the technical support team was very welcoming and helped us get acclimated with the innovative platform we’d be using to attend class.

I also worked with Mark in career services, and he helped me improve my resume and prepare for the career search.

AU: What are you looking to do with your IR graduate degree upon graduation?

Valeriya: I am hoping I will achieve my goal of having a career in the intelligence linguistics field.

AU: Why are you passionate about IR?

Valeriya: There are 52 weeks in a year and an average full-time employee spends 1,960 hours a year at work. I really do not want to waste all of this time hating my job. It is important for me to know that I’ve made a difference once I get to the finish line. I faint when I see blood, so I cannot be a doctor, a nurse, etc., and save lives in this way, but I can try to make a difference working in the IR field.

AU: You mentioned a reason for your recent promotion was due to being enrolled in the IR Online at AU program. What was it about the IR coursework that helped you to receive this promotion?

Valeriya: My very basic knowledge of the SPSS software was definitely an advantage. The IR program itself and the university name made an impression on my current employer as well. Besides, I always make sure I explain the way the program is designed and run: it is virtually the same as being on campus, minus the drive/commute part.

AU: What would be your advice for prospective students considering this program?

Valeriya: It is a great program and it opens so many doors for young professionals and those who are changing career paths. I always dreamed about living in Washington, D.C., and having an opportunity to be involved in the IR field. Now I have all of that and it really feels great to see how people are impressed when you mention that you are involved in the IR program at AU.

If you are passionate about international relations, if you want a career boost and if you are looking for a high-quality program that can be flexible, but still challenging and interesting, this is the program you want to choose. I am only halfway through my second semester and I am already getting real results. I am excited to see what happens when I complete my degree.

Learn more about our innovative Master of Arts in International Relations program.