Alumni Profiles

Mackenzie Cunningham '13

Mackenzie Cunningham, '13

I was born and raised in a small town on the California coast. What drew me most to Boston College was the pervasive idea of “men and women for others.” My BC education has enabled me to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to shape a career reflective of my commitment to service and protection of fundamental human rights.

I entered into the International Studies major as a sophomore and elected a concentration in Ethics and International Social Justice and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Outside of the classroom, I was involved in several volunteer pursuits through which I was able to study and serve communities both domestically and internationally. As a freshman, I participated in the 4Boston and Appalachia volunteer programs, mentoring children of Somali refugees in Roxbury and building a home for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. As part of the PULSE program, I worked in a second grade classroom in East Boston and helped facilitate communication between Spanish-speaking students and parents and school administrators. As a student volunteer and employee with the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, I developed ESL curriculum for Salvadoran and Chinese immigrants. With Campus Ministry’s Arrupe International, I traveled to Nicaragua to study the impact of abject poverty on the marginalized people of Managua through direct immersion.

During my junior year, I took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad and spent seven months in Barcelona, Spain. At Universitat Pompeu Fabra, I enrolled in courses in international law, human rights law and Spanish foreign policy, and also sought out an internship opportunity with Fundacion Ilusiones, Spain’s Make-A-Wish Foundation, through which I designed and executed a wish for a child from the United States.

Several internships throughout my BC career enabled me to apply what I learned and played an integral role in shaping my career path. As an intern with Lifewater International, I assisted with fundraising efforts to provide access to safe water to impoverished villages abroad. This internship helped conceptualize water as a fundamental human right and motivated me to pursue a position with Corporate Accountability International. As part of the Domestic Water Campaign with Corporate Accountability, I was tasked with generating campaign materials, monitoring news to draft press releases and working alongside target populations to implement creative grassroots campaign strategies. I was able to translate knowledge and experience gained in each internship into a mini thesis entitled “The Thirst for Justice in Latin America,” which explored water privatization efforts in Latin America, as part of my International Studies Senior Seminar.

As a senior at BC, I interned with Kids in Need of Defense (“KIND”), a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating pro bono legal counsel for unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. This internship piqued my interest in legal advocacy and United States immigration law. In May 2013, I graduated magna cum laude and accepted a position as a Spanish-speaking paralegal at an immigration law firm in Boston, Massachusetts. As a paralegal, I work one-on-one with clients from diverse backgrounds and walks of life in family and employment-based processes, asylum, and petitions for battered spouses, Special Immigrant Juveniles and victims of crimes, among others. To this end, I am tasked with corresponding with officials in the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Labor as well as consular posts all over the world in defense of immigrants’ rights.

In the near future, I plan to broaden the scope of my work through a position focused on the analysis and formation of United States immigration policy and the protection and resettlement of refugees. I hope to continue to use the foundation of my liberal arts education to become a more effective servant for others.

Hope Sullivan, '11

Hope Sullivan, '11

“From an early age, I remember being fascinated by all things global - collecting maps and globes and planning what countries I most wanted to visit,” recalls Hope Sullivan ’11. The classes that most interested her were those that expanded her perspectives on the world and other cultures –world history, politics, religion, and foreign language. Her high school also emphasized service and volunteering, and she was involved in student service projects each year to support a mission in Peru. She knew that she wanted her future academic and career pursuits to be both international and socially conscious.

A native of St. Louis, MO, Sullivan was a BC Presidential Scholar (now Gabelli Presidential Scholars) and majored in international studies, concentrating on political science, with a second major in Spanish. She was drawn to the IS major because the interdisciplinary coursework allowed her to explore a variety of interests across politics, economics, and culture in order to get a well-rounded perspective on global issues.

While at BC, Sullivan continued to pursue community service opportunities and international experiences. She volunteered as an English as a Second language (ESL) teacher at various placements around Boston, including the Suffolk County House of Correction. As a sophomore, she participated in a cultural immersion program in France and hiked 500km of Spain’s Camino de Santiago, one of Europe’s oldest pilgrimages. In spring of her junior year Sullivan studied at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, which allowed her to take all her courses in Spanish and to get an inside perspective on Spanish and European politics and culture.

Sullivan interned her junior summer with World Learning, Inc. a non-profit in Washington, DC that partners with the State Dept. to conduct international visiting leader programs on a range of topics such as civic engagement, public health, and economic development. While this role was a strong fit for her academic interests and provided exposure to both the government and non-profit sectors, the experience also led her to realize that in order to become a leader in this space, she would first need to develop strong professional skills – project management, analysis, and strategy development.

After graduating from BC in 2011, Sullivan joined Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy & Operations group in the firm’s Boston office. As part of Deloitte’s general management rotational program, she has worked on client engagements across a number of industries, including health care and retail. In assessing and advising clients, many with global operations, the understanding of diverse perspectives and ability to adapt problems into a global context that Hope developed as an IS major have been essential. Hope has also further developed her leadership skills, taking lead roles in analyst and office community involvement initiatives and building Deloitte’s relationships with local non-profit organizations, including the BC Campus School.

Before entering a full-time MBA program at London Business School in fall 2015, Sullivan will spend ten weeks this summer working in Mumbai, India, as a Deloitte Global Fellow, a role that will bring together her academic and professional experiences and interests. Hope plans to focus her MBA studies on global management and social impact before returning to consulting in Deloitte’s social impact practice.

Sullivan’s experience at Boston College and in the International Studies Program equipped her with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, a global prerogative and approach, and a social consciousness rooted in the Jesuit tradition of service for others.

Lizzy Robbins, '09

Lizzy Robbins, '09

While at BC Lizzy Robbins focused on Ethics and Social Justice in the International Studies major. Taking classes focused on ethics, philosophy, theology, and history really helped her connect the human aspect of international affairs with the study of politics and economics. At BC Lizzy took many classes focused on international health and conflict reconciliation. She studied abroad at the University College Cork, where her interest in international studies coincided with the experience of being an international student at an international university alongside students from the US, Ireland, and throughout Europe. This experience also sparked her travel bug. A native (and proud) Chicagoan, Lizzy has been traveling around the country and world since, experiencing different cities and cultures first hand.

After college Lizzy moved to Washington, DC and began working at Georgetown University in the School of Foreign Service’s Security Studies Program (SSP). At Georgetown, Lizzy worked in both admissions and career services, working with students focused on becoming leaders in the national and international security community. It was a very “DC” job and she loved it. Working at Georgetown solidified Lizzy’s interest in international higher education, as the university is at a crossroads of academics and international affairs. She had amazing experiences working with international students from around the world and meeting with leaders from around the world aimed at increasing the collaboration between schools. She helped establish an international exchange program and furthered connections with alumni throughout the world. Lizzy also spent some time working in career services for the new McCourt School of Public Policy, where she enjoyed learning more about domestic policy and working with a large international student population.

While at Georgetown Lizzy completed her Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in International Affairs. She published a paper on the impact of international exchange programs like the Fulbright on the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam. She built on this topic for her Master’s thesis, where she examined the relationship between international exchange programs on both the changing higher education system and economic system in Vietnam. As such, Southeast Asia is at the top of her travel bucket list.

Currently, Lizzy works at Harvard Business School as a Manager in their Global Experience Office. Her role comprises of establishing international partnerships with companies around the world to host projects for MBA students during a first-year immersion course.

Lizzy credits Boston College and the IS major with encouraging her to be a curious citizen of the world. Learning across an interdisciplinary curriculum helped her build a strong foundation and her focus on ethics and social justice taught her to consider the people and human aspect of decisions. This has led her to an enjoyable career so far and she looks forward to continuing to work in the dynamic field of international education.