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Student spotlight: Dylan Junkin

Dylan Junkin
Jul 19 2021

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Dylan Junkin graduated with a degree in international relations and a minor in human rights. During his undergraduate career, Dylan conducted research on the Islamic State, spent a summer working and making an audio documentary in Uganda, and worked with U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) on a project about PRC influence operations on social media.

“I first became interested in studying human rights when I took Jasmina Bojic's class on international human rights documentaries,” he said. “It was fascinating to see how filmmakers could be more than just passive observers of their surroundings, using film and storytelling to elevate the narratives of vulnerable communities and inspire actual change.”

He decided to pursue a minor in human rights after studying abroad in South Africa during his sophomore year. “I realized that the minor was extremely flexible and would allow me to apply most of my classes from my Cape Town program,” he explained. “The minor gave me flexibility to pursue random classes and interests and helped me make sense of my various passions.”

His academic and personal development was heavily shaped by the travel and research he conducted during the summers. In between his freshman and sophomore year, he lived and worked in Entebbe, Uganda making a documentary. Another summer, he helped Dr. Martha Crenshaw with the Mapping Militants Project, where he studied the Islamic State and Kurdish militant groups. “This focus helped shape the rest of my academic career which became heavily focused on international security,” he said.

The summer after his junior year, he worked for two startups based off the research he had done through Stanford’s Hacking for Defense program. “I interned at a company that was working on encrypted technology for journalists and for another company that was building NLP technology for the military, which related to my research on PRC influence operations over social media,” he explained. This interest eventually led him to do a senior thesis through the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) on Chinese state media partnerships in East Asia and the Pacific.

“My path through college has been circuitous and unconventional, and I think everyone's is,” he said. “My advice to future students would be to find research projects and opportunities you are interested in and then follow through to get the most out of them. Secondly, work with your friends and become friends with people you work with. It makes it much more natural and enjoyable.”

After graduation, Dylan is planning to move to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career at the intersection of scholarship, policy, and storytelling. Congratulations!

Please join us in congratulating the class of 2021! As the academic year draws to a close, we are highlighting students graduating from across our 14 programs. Click here to view more student spotlights.