HoosNetwork: What was your experience at the University of the South Pacific like? What two things do you remember most about your time in Fiji?
Lena: Making the decision to study abroad was one of the best decisions I made in college. I was interested in going somewhere non-traditional to study abroad– I knew I wanted to fully immerse myself in a different culture and explore somewhere I might not ever have the chance to go back to. I ended up choosing a program at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.
The two things I remember most about my time in Fiji was the absolute beauty of the country– both the people and the surroundings. Fijians are some of the most generous, giving and genuinely caring people I have ever met. Getting to live in dorms with students from all over the South Pacific allowed me to experience firsthand this “Pacific Way” as they call it– everyone treats others as if they were their own brother or sister. There was something comforting and incredibly inspiring about that mentality.
Second, beyond the amazing people, the natural splendor of Fiji is incredible. Fiji is made up of 333 islands and each is incredibly different from the next. Some are dry and arid, some are lush, and each is a little culturally distinct. Through picturesque island hikes, camping and diving pristine coral reefs, Fiji never ceased to amaze me… or keep me busy!
HoosNetwork: You graduated from U.Va. in 2012 and then went to London for graduate school. Why did you make that decision?
Lena: I learned so much in Fiji that when it came to searching for graduate schools, there was no question that I wanted to go abroad. I knew I wanted to continue to push myself both academically and personally. London is an incredibly international city and that was a huge draw for me. Being in London, LSE focuses on building as diverse, international of a student body as the city itself. Since my academic focus lies in politics, I could not imagine a better classroom environment in which to learn and study. In London, I learned as much from the people around me, their lives and their experiences as I did from my textbooks– there was something special and powerful about that for me.
HoosNetwork: What are a few little-known “gems” in London that a traveler or fellow ‘Hoo living in London should do or see?
Lena: Oh, good question! Gordon’s wine bar is a must. They claim to be the oldest wine bar in London. It has a quirky cave-like vibe inside and outside is nestled right next to a beautiful park. There’s nothing better than grabbing a bottle of wine and sitting outside in the park on a summer day, watching the crowds go by. Another neat thing not many people know is that the Royal Opera House offers some amazing backstage tours. Call well in advance to book tickets, but it is worth it– you get to see the ballet practice, the set building rooms, the costume making shop and even more! Finally, be sure not to miss climbing to the top of Primrose Hill; this park is on the north end of Regent’s Park offers in my opinion, the most scenic views of all of Central London.
HoosNetwork: You are now back in the U.S. living in D.C. and working as an Account Associate at Bloomberg Government. What’s your job like?
Lena: It is great to be back in DC working for Bloomberg Government. BGOV is comprehensive web based data platform which provides (among many things) exclusive Congressional news and analysis, legislative analysis and tracking, and regulatory analysis and tracking. In my role at BGOV, I work closely Government Affairs professionals to ensure they are getting all of the political and business development information they need.
HoosNetwork: You also have some experience working on political campaigns. If you were advising a fellow ‘Hoo about how to best get a job on a campaign, what would you say?
Lena: Pick up a clipboard and volunteer! Every campaign staffer I have met (including myself!) started where the rubber hits the road by knocking on doors and making phone calls to reach out to voters. This is undoubtedly the most integral component to any campaign, and it is where every campaign staffer starts. If you are interested in getting more involved, head to your local campaign office and sign up to help out. With hard work, dedication and a passion for your cause, you will be on the right track to start a career in campaigns.
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