Veronica Kim, who graduates this June, chose to pursue a degree in international relations (IR) because of the major’s flexibility and diverse class offerings. “I came into Stanford thinking I wanted to major in history, but I was also quite interested in foreign language, literature, and political science. IR allowed me to pursue all of those interests and more through its broad range of courses,” she explained.
Veronica is one of four students to graduate this year from the international relations honors program, which offers undergraduates the opportunity to conduct a major independent research project under faculty guidance. Veronica applied for the honors program because she wanted to challenge herself to pursue an original research topic. “I would highly encourage other students to participate in the program—although I would warn that it is a lot of work! But it is incredibly rewarding to know just how much time and effort I have poured into my thesis over the past year; to see it grow and take shape throughout the research, drafting, and revision processes; and to present my findings through the final draft and the presentation.”
Her thesis focused on British economic policy and political coercion in Egypt from 1930-1952. “I was inspired to choose this topic after taking two very interesting classes my junior year: America and the World Economywith Judith Goldstein and Middle Eastern Studieswith Lisa Blaydes,” she shared. “The area of study (Anglo-Egyptian relations) was completely out of my comfort zone, as was the method of research (archival research). I wanted to challenge myself to explore something new and engage deeply with this topic over the course of a year.”
She had the opportunity to share her thesis at the 2020 international relations honors conference, which took place virtually in May. “I am currently back at home in North Carolina and wrote the first draft of my thesis here, revised it here, submitted it here, and gave my presentation here,” she said.
Her last quarter has been “bittersweet,” as she had to pack up and move home in the middle of winter quarter due to the outbreak of coronavirus, which has triggered massive disruptions around the globe. “I miss campus a lot, especially because I had always looked forward to my senior spring as a celebration of the Class of 2020 and all we have accomplished over these past four years. I miss the Stanford community and the opportunity to be around people who inspire me. I miss the feeling of walking around the quad, and the beautiful weather, and the chance to interact with professors and other students. I miss my friends and loved ones.”
She is looking forward to returning to campus when the quarantine is over to walk around and revisit some of her favorite places. She is also excited to attend an in-person commencement ceremony in the future and reunite with other members of the Class of 2020.
With issues of international affairs and policy in the spotlight during today’s global public health crisis, Veronica’s major has never been more relevant. “International relations seems like such an important discipline today, just given the state of our government and our economy during this pandemic,” she said. “In particular, I have loved applying what I have learned in my courses to understand state leaders' decision-making, the structure of different societies, and the reasons behind the contemporary rise of populism. I am grateful for this degree because it is widely applicable to whatever I do next. I feel that I will carry what I have learned as an IR major wherever I go: whether I'm reading the news at the breakfast table, or debating a political issue with friends, or voting in the next election.”
Please join us in congratulating the class of 2020! 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.