For SPIA alumna Kendra Pengelly, her dreams of working in international policy have become a reality, and she has the School to thank.

“I graduated in December of 2014 and started working for the European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress at the beginning of the New Year,” said Pengelly. “ I analyze legislation and policies vital to the trans-atlantic relationship between the EU and the US.”

As the Robert Schuman Trainee at the European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress, Pengelly focuses on policy relevant to homeland security, cyber security, international trade, counterterrorism, nuclear security, international human rights, and the Middle East. She works alongside eleven European Parliament Senior staffers to encourage trans-atlantic dialogue.

On April 9, Pengelly will travel to the European Parliament Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium where she will work for European Parliament’s LIBE Committee for three months. There, she will specialize in cyber-terrorism and cyber-security within the Committee’s Policy Department.

“Working for the European Parliament, both in DC and in Brussels, is crucial to giving my trans-Atlantic dialogue a level of confidence that will help me to stand out and be as competitive as possible,” said Pengelly. “This is essential as I strive towards my goals of holding a meaningful position within a security-oriented international policy sector.”

Pengelly credits this once in a lifetime career opportunity to her experience as a SPIA student.

“The professors were my favorite part about SPIA. You can tell that they love UGA as much as I do, and they are enthusiastic about their subjects. I credit Dr. Berejikian, Dr. Tessman, Dr. Bullock, and others for turning a personal interest into serious career goals.”

Additionally, Pengelly’s involvement in the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program in the Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) helped introduce her to some of the biggest players in international policy. “I met an incredible network of  ‘CITS family’ who serve as my primary business contacts today. CITS helped me to develop as a leader among my peers and gave me some incredible experiences: from hosting the Chinese State Nuclear Security Technology Center for training, receiving Undersecretary of State Rose Gotemoeller on behalf of UGA, and even traveling to DC for a week to learn about think tanks and agencies that drive today’s policy sector.”

At the end of the day, Pengelly is most excited about making meaningful contributions to international policy in the sectors of counter terrorism and cyber security, and her experience as a SPIA student helped make this dream possible. “SPIA exposed me to facets of international affairs and politics in which I was not familiar. This helped to manifest my curiosity across a wide range of topics, which I eventually meshed together to create my career goals. Without SPIA, it would have taken me years to realize that I could marry both domestic politics and international affairs into one happy career.”