Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Alumni Spotlights (In-Depth)


Katherine Alberti

BA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2014) 

As of 2017: Internship at, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Warsaw, Poland (3 months)

In her own words: "It is a perfect environment for interns of all interests. There are always so many projects under way, something for everyone. The team is also very receptive to ideas and creative thinking, even from interns. Plus everyone is very friendly, welcoming, and encouraging. They took such great care of me.

"These past three months my main duties included translating articles from the Russian section of the website into English, writing short list-articles on famous Polish artists, and writing short articles on events. I even had the opportunity to write a longer article comparing the Easter traditions in Poland with the ones observed by Polish-Americans/Brits (located here if you are interested). I am happy to announce that has offered me a contract to continue working for them. I will be working from the United States over the summer and then hopefully by the fall I will be able to come back to Warsaw. Overall it was a great experience and I would highly recommend it. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity."

Matthew G. Andersson

BA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (Spring 1984)

As of 2018: President, Indigo Aerospace
First job after graduation: Aviation Professional
Other positions related to degree:

  • Project Manager, International Strategic Investments, AT&T International (Ameritech RBOC) in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary). Over US$3 Billion in direct investments. 
  • Director, Technical Consulting, AT&T International, in conjunction with the US State Department, Moscow and former Soviet Republics 
  • Senior Aviation Consultant, Charles River Associates: strategic advisory to Russian aviation sector 
  • Executive Advisor, Global Aerospace & Defense, Booz Allen Hamilton 
  • CEO, Indigo Airlines: solicitation and negotiation, Russian aviation aircraft manufacturers 

In his own words: "My 4th-year senior Russian language courses were completed at Yale (Summer 1983) and transferred back to Texas. I was well-prepared and also recruited by the NSA (which I declined). Native Russian speakers in Moscow, Minsk and in Kiev, commented on my unusual command of their language, especially spoken, when I was living and working there, including at official State events. I attribute this largely to the professionalism of The University of Texas at Austin Russian Department and its fine instructors, including John Kolsti, Peter Fischer, Jon Bowlt, Leslie Armitage, Yuri Slezkine (now at UC Berkeley), and as well, the graduate PhD students who taught in the program. My fellow classmates were also talented and dedicated and made a fine cohort. My Russian and other training at Texas, including with economist WW Rostow and our work in macroeconomics, including the industrialization of Imperial Russia, and later Soviet technology development, was also highly competitive preparation for graduate school at the University of Chicago (MBA, 1996)."

Andy Bamber

MA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2009) 

As of 2016: Director of Business Development, CONTENT COLAB
Andy founded an independent consulting firm, CONTENT COLAB, which focuses on global and local content creation, business consulting, and providing project design and proposal writing services to international development organizations. He works with entrepreneurs and nonprofits to execute business and communications strategies. He has worked with US-based clients in the region, making trips to the Caucasus (Georgia and Azerbaijan) on consulting assignments, and twice traveled to Southeast Asia (Laos and Myanmar) to work on projects.

First job after graduation: Business Development Manager, Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia
Andy was based in Kazakhstan, 2010-2012, where he worked to "help microenterprises flourish in the challenging business climate of the former Soviet Union." During his tenure, 75 fledgling enterprises received seed capital totaling more than $2 million.

Previously: Andy began his career in organizational development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan (2003-2005) before coming to CREEES in 2009. In early 2016, he worked in partnership with the London-based consultancy Edward-Austin to develop the founding corporate social responsibility (CSR) report for the Kazakh-French uranium mining joint venture KATCO. In December 2016, he returned to Kazakhstan to focus on growing his consulting firm.

In his own words: "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to live and work in a region I've been exploring since my pre-CREEES days as a Peace Corps volunteer."

Michelle Kelso

MA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2001)

As of 2016: Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Georgetown University 

Michelle Kelso has consulted for the Council of Europe, USAID, non-profits, Holocaust compensation programs, as well as the Romanian government. She has been the recipient of several prestigious national awards, including two Fulbright fellowships.

Previously: Michelle directed a Romanian non-profit, the Association for Dialogue and Civic Education, from 2005–2010, which focused on tolerance and democracy building. In 2005, she made the documentary film, "Hidden Sorrows: The Persecution of Romanian Gypsies During WWII," which has screened in seven countries, numerous film festivals, and aired on three national television channels. She has also been a photo stringer for USA Today and the Associated Press. 

Emily Liverman

MA, Slavic Languages and Literature (2008)

As of 2017: Associate Director, Indiana University Bloomington Kelley School of Business

First job after graduation: Assistant Director for Student Services/Graduate Coordinator at the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University Bloomington (eight years).

In her own words: "I utilized the academic, programmatic, and advising experiences I had at UT Austin to create student-focused programming, develop academic plans, respond to student needs, and advise REEI’s MA and PhD-minor students. While my own interests shifted from poetry and translation to student affairs and higher education administration, I drew upon my knowledge of the area to relate to the students and customize extracurricular and academic programming. I have presented on the event series, "REEI Networks!", at regional and national NACADA conventions and published an article on the same topic in the NACADA Journal.

"I earned a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and Student Affairs in 2014 and am pursuing a Master of Science in Adult Education, both through IU’s School of Education."

Kerri Matulis

BA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies; Psychology; Minor in Russian Language and Culture (Fall 2014)

As of 2017: Graduate student, Columbia University

In her own words: "The working title of my thesis research is, 'The Question of Universal Human Rights Norms: Securitizing Identity in the Soviet Union and Russia.' I will be looking at Russia's securitization of national identity, through the utilization of 'spiritual-moral values,' initially espoused by the Russian Orthodox Church. In comparison, furthermore, I will look at Brezhnev's turn to conservatism, specifically after the 1968 Prague Spring and the signing of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

"Along with human rights and law-related courses, I may start another language, such as Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian in the fall. I am considering law school, as well."

First job after graduation: Writing Center Consultant, New Economic School, Moscow 

Previously: Internship, UNICEF, Astana, Kazakhstan (summer 2017); Human Rights Watch, Europe and Central Asia Divison, Intern (2017); Travel Coordinator, Savoya (global ground transportation company, Dallas) (2015–16)

In her own words: (At UNICEF) "I helped document and monitor the office's Justice for Children Initiative, which assists children who have come into contact with local law enforcement and the juvenile justice system. Although an unpaid internship, the Harriman Institute at Columbia University awarded me its Civil Society Fellowship Award to cover travel and living expenses. The following year, I received the Harriman Institute's PepsiCo Junior Fellowship award, which covers my academic year tuition."

At Human Rights Watch, Kerri worked on media reports and assisted researchers regarding human rights issues in the region, particularly in Russia and Tajikistan.

Lisa Sang Mi Min

MA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2010)

As of 2017: PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley; in 2017 was in Almaty on a 6-month grant supported by American Councils’ Title VIII Research Scholar Program

In her own words: "Almaty has always been a place of learning for me. Deceivingly simple things, such as figuring out how to dress for winter, and understanding what it means to throw back сто грамм together. Or life things, like getting good at бытовой Russian, and understanding that fieldwork is as much about unfurling and being okay with not knowing as it is about implementing a research plan. One of the most important lessons, however, has been to try to see with eyes other than my own.

"And again, Almaty. I’m here for the third time... With my intuition set towards DPR Korea, my focus has been on inhabiting the perspectives, imaginations, and memories of the Soviet Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan. There is something to be learned here, in the postsocialist context they find themselves in, and in the complex, autobiographical relationships they hold with the north. There is less than a month left. What awaits is to wait and to write what remains, to see how this experience develops and transforms into a part of my dissertation."

Brian Selman

MA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (Fall 2016)

As of 2017: US Department of State for the Foreign Service Consular Fellows Program, Warsaw, Poland

In his own words: "I used the Professional Development Funding from CREEES to fly to Washington D.C. for an Oral Assessment with the US Department of State for the Foreign Service Consular Fellows Program in Russia. I have been offered a post in Moscow as a Foreign Service Visa Adjudicator for a period of 2-5 years (dependent on satisfactory service and the needs of the State Department).

"The Oral Assessment, conducted in Russian, included an intense memo-writing exercise, a test of my job-knowledge, and a 75-minute interview with two current mid-level Foreign Service Officers. I needed to score a 5.25/7 to pass, and from what I read online a 5.6/7 was around the limit considered to be necessary for a "sure thing" job offer (although this is in part, speculation; although the application reported MANY vacancies in Russia, job offers depend on the needs of the State Department). To my astonishment and immense relief, I received a 6 and a conditional offer of employment.

"I am now completing the security and medical clearance process. These processes can take several months, but after it is all done, I should get a final offer of employment and head to Virginia for a 3-month course on visa adjudication at the Foreign Service Institute prior to my first stint in a U.S. consulate or embassy in Russia.

"Assuming all goes as planned, I hope to use this job experience to gain full-time career employment with the Foreign Service. Thank you CREEES for investing in me and giving me the opportunity to take a chance on my dream!"

Eliot Stone

MA, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2012)

As of 2016: Owner and proprietor, TravelTuva; CEO, Cultural Transformations LLC; Program Specialist, Texas Historical Commission (Austin); author, forthcoming ethnography exploring the lives and careers of Tuvan musicians, artists, and scholars; also works to bring the Tuvan throat-singing group Alash to tour the US every year

Previously: Based on a long-standing interest in Tuvan music, Eliot conducted anthropological fieldwork in Tuva in 2011 and 2013. During this time, he developed fluency in the Russian language, gained deep understandings of Tuvan culture and history, and became a skilled Tuvan vocalist, receiving multiple awards in Tuva for his performances.

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