Matt (Cohort 3 Graduate), Jenna (Cohort 4), and baby Connor (aspiring Cohort 34)
The hallmark of the Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP) at Johns Hopkins SAIS is the cohort model. We recently sat down with two of our students – Jenna and Matt Nevins – to discuss their experiences in the MAGP.
Jenna and Matt shared the distinction of being the first-ever MAGP married couple. Matt, a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, graduated from Johns Hopkins SAIS in December 2018, and Jenna, an Intelligence Officer with the U.S. Department of Defense, will graduate this December.
For a few brief months last fall, both Matt and Jenna were MAGP students. It was an especially busy time for the young couple. After just one month in the program, Jenna gave birth to the couple’s first child, a baby boy named Connor. Meanwhile, Matt was balancing being a new father with finishing up his final capstone for the program, a policy brief on returned ISIS fighters in Morocco.
While balancing work, a new baby, and school can be stressful, Jenna recalled that it was fun to share the experience and learn together, as well as be able to help each other along the way. They were even able to call on each other to proofread papers, an added bonus of tackling the demands of school together.
Having the benefit of insider knowledge from her husband, Jenna is looking forward to the upcoming residencies, especially the international one. Her cohort will focus on Georgia, and will travel to the Caucasus in October for interviews and site visits.
For Matt, the international negotiation simulation and the staff ride were highlights of the program. Both of these experiences called for the application of material under unique circumstances, negotiating as fictional country representatives until the early hours of the morning, or getting in character to delve into the psyche of Civil War leaders.
Beyond the curriculum, both Matt and Jenna were drawn to the cohort model of the MAGP. Matt appreciates that the program attracts working, mid-career professionals. Just a few months into the program, Jenna is seeing that for herself; she is learning almost as much from her fellow classmates as she is from the formal program.
Jenna hopes that the program’s broad but thorough curriculum, and the school’s extensive network in Washington, DC (and beyond) will help her advance in her career. Jenna had reached a ceiling in her current job, and she feels strongly that her master’s degree will help her break through. She is also looking forward to using the knowledge and skills gained in the program to mentor other intelligence officers and more directly inform U.S. policy decisions. For now, Matt is happy in his position at State, but is excited to see what doors the school’s network might help open.
For incoming students, Matt and Jenna offered the following advice: Be supportive of each other and seek out help from friends or family when needed. The program is rigorous but worth it!