This year during Alumni Weekend, the Class of 2010 is celebrating their five year reunion. We thought we’d ask Katrina Ablen, ESIA BA ’10, a few questions about her experience both as a reunion volunteer and a GW alumna. Katrina studied International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict and Security at the Elliott School and currently serves as a Naval Officer stationed in Seoul, South Korea.
Describe your role as a Reunion Committee volunteer.
Appreciation of the lessons we have learned from our life experiences grows over time, and that is something I have in spades for my time at GW. Although many remained in the District after graduation, a number of my fellow classmates scattered all over the country, if not the globe. A five-year reunion is such a momentous occasion and great opportunity to reconnect with everyone, I wanted to get in the fun!
How has being a GW volunteer impacted you personally?
Volunteering with GW reinvigorated me with a sense of community and youthfulness (yes, I know I’m not that old yet). In order to make our reunion memorable, I reached out to old friends and classmates for ideas and contributions; but most importantly, to reminisce on our amazing memories while at school and reflect on how we have developed personally and professionally as a result of our time at school. This experience only increased my gratitude for having attended a school that prides itself on maintaining relationships long after students depart its hallowed grounds.
What does being a GW alumna mean to you?
To me, it means continuing to realize my potential and to be a role model for those not only interested in joining the GW community, but for those striving to be future leaders as well. I had so many incredible opportunities to work with, or just be around, vibrant, innovative peers and friends. There was no shortage of energy to make GW a fun place to learn and grow. I hope to share that passion for betterment with everyone I cross paths with, alumni or otherwise.
What advice do you have for current GW students?
As welcoming as GW is, it is always difficult to feel like you fit in. Take a chance and step out of your comfort zone and just meet people. I developed so many close relationships with classmates I thought I didn’t have anything in common with, and we are still going strong five years later. It is rare to be in such a close knit environment after school—seize the opportunity to be a witness to someone’s journey and allow someone to be yours.
How did your education from the Elliott School help shape your career path?
Studying in the Elliott School challenged me to maintain an openness required in the field of diplomacy. My concentration was in Conflict and Security, and it couldn’t be more applicable to my current career field. As a Naval Officer stationed in Seoul, South Korea, I work alongside South Korean military service members daily. Working with personnel from different professions can be difficult enough, but adding a different culture and approach to issues into the mix can test even the best of professionals. I have built upon all the lectures, history lessons, and group projects conducted in the basement of 1957 F Steet, to further good will wherever the Navy has taken me. I look forward to leaving my counterparts and future colleagues with positive memories of working with Americans and as a back-up plan, impressing them with my karaoke skills!