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In the future, Elizabeth is looking to volunteer for the Peace Corps and pursue a graduate degree in government or the international relief sector.

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"Educate yourself on the world around you. We’re lucky to live in a time where we have access to tons of information! Learn about current events from multiple sources and perspectives, and stay up to date on the news. Understanding global events is key to pursuing an international career, and it’s good to set that pattern as early as possible."

Hear Elizabeth talk about how she ended up choosing International Affairs and some advice of how to pursue it!

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Elizabeth Ford
Class of 2019



My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.

I don’t have extremely defined milestones for discovering my career path. Finding what I wanted to study was a gradual process, but I always enjoyed learning about the world and hoped to work in something that brought together multiple academic areas.

While I liked and continued to explore a variety of subjects in high school, I slowly found myself more drawn to humanities than to hard sciences, and I loved discussing global issues with my family and friends.

I took Spanish my sophomore year, and I realized that I really enjoy language mechanics. This eventually helped me realize that I wanted to study language in college.

I wanted to challenge myself and explore new opportunities, so I joined JROTC during my sophomore year. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to be in the military, but it gave me my first taste of international relations as an academic subject from a unique perspective.

Throughout high school, I participated in various community service opportunities, and I volunteered at a church on the Hopi Native American reservation for a few summers. This is where I fell in love with community service and was able to dive into another culture even without leaving the United States.

As an upperclassman, completing school assignments and tutoring other students showed me that I enjoy writing and research projects, and I found it easy to lose myself in that type of work.

When I considered all my interests, I realized that international studies was the perfect way to bring together my passions, connect me with the global world, and give me a platform to serve others.

As I took major-specific classes like International Relations during my first year of college, I felt that I was in the right place. The material was challenging, but I was passionate enough about the issues to commit myself to the work.



Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway


  • As a member of the Air Force JROTC unit at Valencia High School, I was challenged to develop my leadership skills, participated in community service, and learned about global events more deeply.

  • During my junior and senior years, I served as an AOC student tutor, which helped me find a passion for education and writing.

  • Through my church, JROTC unit, AOC, and other organizations, I had the opportunity to volunteer in various settings both inside and outside my community. Because of this, I sought out community service in college and gained valuable experience.


  • Throughout my first year of college, I worked as a tutor and mentor at the Emily Shane Foundation, a local nonprofit partnered with the Boys and Girls Club that provides free tutoring services to low-income middle school students.

  • I participated as a member of the 2020 Pepperdine Model United Nations team. This gave me valuable experience with writing, research, public speaking, collaboration, and more as our team prepared to compete in the annual National MUN New York conference. It also challenged me to understand world events more fully.

  • I am part of the Pepperdine Global Fellows Program, a community of students who complete coursework focused on cross cultural-understanding and global leadership combined with one year of studying abroad and one semester of living and interning in Washington, DC.

  • I am currently preparing to work as the International Programs Library Ambassador for Pepperdine’s Buenos Aires, Argentina campus. While living in Argentina, I am in charge of managing the library collection, providing free writing consultations for students, and assisting students and faculty with their research and reference needs.

  • I am working as a research intern for Vote Smart, a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to providing free, unbiased, and factual information on politicians and candidates to American voters.


What I'm currently doing/hope to do

I am currently soaking up as much knowledge and experience as possible, and I do not have extremely specific career plans yet. However, I tentatively hope to combine what I learn in the classroom with research and community service, possibly by volunteering in the Peace Corps and then pursuing a graduate degree in order to work in government or the international relief sector. Additionally, a lot of my experience has involved youth education and literature, and I would love to continue that as a focus in my career by pairing it with my academic experience.


How to maximize my time in high school?

  • Advice #1: Create a pattern of service. Don’t worry if your experiences don’t line up perfectly with the international relations career field because any service is useful for both you and others! Because international affairs is interdisciplinary, you have space to explore.

  • Advice #2: Study foreign language in high school. I know this can be difficult at AOC (I didn’t take as many language classes as I should have), but it will be a helpful base for your college classes and will build great skills for any job.

  • Advice #3: Practice your writing skills. The ability to craft and understand analytical writing allows you to effectively bring together the different aspects of international affairs, communicate and appreciate ideas, and succeed in the many essays you will have to write.

  • Advice #4: Look for colleges that support studying abroad. Studying abroad is an amazing experience that will help you immerse in another culture, improve your foreign language skills, and grow as a person!

  • Advice #5: Educate yourself on the world around you. We’re lucky to live in a time where we have access to tons of information! Learn about current events from multiple sources and perspectives, and stay up to date on the news. Understanding global events is key to pursuing an international career, and it’s good to set that pattern as early as possible.

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