Aspiring Diplomat: Meet dual-degree student,

Joanna Schenke


To say that Joanna Schenke is impressive might be putting it a bit lightly.

Schenke, a dual-master’s student in Public Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, is certainly a top-notch student. Poised to graduate with two degrees in the spring, Schenke has already traveled to the Middle East twice, first to Damascus and then to Tunisia for a State Department internship, since coming to the University of Texas for graduate school.

“I was an international relations major in undergrad,” says Schenke. “(I realized) that the U.S. doesn’t exist by itself--everything we do is shaped by our relations with other countries--so (this educational route) seemed like a natural point of view for me.”

Before coming to UT, Schenke had studied Turkish and traveled to the country on a Fulbright scholarship to study both the language and the political participation of Turkish immigrants in Germany. Schenke says that she decided to attend UT for graduate school because of the opportunity to continue her study of languages, as well as earn a degree in public policy.

“UT allows me to pursue both degrees simultaneously, but in their entirety,” says Schenke. “I liked the idea that I could continue the Turkish language program, start learning Arabic and do the entire course of study at the LBJ School.”

View interview of Joanna Schenke

“(I’m learning) the sorts of things you can take with you to a job: statistical analysis, economics, etcetera; tangible job skills.”   

And tangible job skills are going to come in handy very soon for Schenke, who is poised to begin a career with the U.S. State Department. After working as an intern at the Tunisia branch the Middle East Partnership, an office that gives U.S. grant money to civil society organizations in the Middle East and North Africa, Schenke fell in love with the job and knew what she wanted to do with her life.

After passing the last stage of the required exam, Schenke says she hopes to be a diplomat as soon as next summer, serving somewhere in the Middle East.

January, 2011

by Lauren Edwards

Joanna Schenke

Joanna Schenke

Master’s student in dual degree: Public Affairs/Middle Eastern Studies

Fulbright scholar

Intern at the U.S. State Department

Fluent in multiple languages


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