Welcome to the latest installment of the CJC Student Spotlight Series! This month we spotlight Maddox Angerhofer, a junior in the School of Foreign Service from New Hampshire. Angerhofer majors in International Politics, with a concentration in security. In addition to Jewish Civilization, she minors in Persian. Read her responses below to learn more about her time at the CJC!
Q: Briefly tell us about yourself, Maddox!
A: Outside of being an SFS student, I work with the Georgetown Language Project as a Spanish Translation Head, volunteering translation services to non-profits and government agencies in and around D.C. I also compete with the lightweight women’s rowing team. As an avid hiker, I am working my way toward hiking all 500 miles of trail in nearby Shenandoah National Park.
Q: How were you introduced to the CJC?
A: Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to take Professor Berlinerblau’s proseminar to join the CJC! I was introduced to the wonderful people of the Center during New Student Orientation, when I attended an open house. I was impressed by the CJC’s ambitious goals for its students and its caring community, so I applied to join the certificate program that fall.
Q: What was your first CJC class? Have you had a favorite one thus far?
A: My first CJC class was “Intro to Jewish Civilization” with Moran Stern, whom I have gone on to assist in his research. I would also have to say this was my favorite CJC class so far. Because students join the Center at different times throughout their degree program, I had classmates ranging from freshmen to seniors. I enjoyed getting to know students I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and learning about the relationship between the history of Judaism and politics.
Q: What are some of your academic interests? Have you further explored them while a CJC Minor?
A: My primary academic interest is Iran’s foreign policy, especially its relations with Israel. To this end, I am minoring in Persian. Studying in both the CJC and the Persian Program has given me a look at both sides of the contentious relationship between Israel and Iran. In Professor Jessica Roda’s class, “Muslims and Jews”, I studied the religious interactions of Judaism and Islam in Iran. It was fascinating to learn about the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East, including the language of Judeo-Persian, a variant of Persian written in the Hebrew alphabet.
Q: How has the CJC impacted your time at Georgetown?
A: Joining the CJC immediately gave me access to a fantastic group of people –– faculty and students alike –– who have supported every aspect of my time at Georgetown. From baked goods (thank you, Jocelyn) to career advice, the CJC has just about everything you need. Sophomore year, I even roomed with a co-CJCer! Academically, the Center has given me access to coursework that is more regionally focused than my major, allowing me to apply theory I’ve learned in other international politics classes to coursework about Israel and its neighbors.
Q: What have you been up to during the pandemic? Have you managed to continue exploring your research interests?
A: During the summer of 2020, I received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to take an intensive Persian course. My final project for the class was a seven-page research paper written in Persian on Iranian-Israeli relations under the Shah. During the 2020-2021 school year, I chose to take a leave of absence from Georgetown and move to the Alaskan bush! I spent the year living 150 miles away from the nearest grocery store training sled dogs to race in the Iditarod, a thousand-mile sled dog race that takes place every March. The team I helped train came in third place out of 46 entrants. Due to connectivity constraints, I had to pause most of my Georgetown-related activities, but I spent the time on the back of the dogsled ruminating about my JCIV senior thesis.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your time doing research for our faculty?
A: After taking “Intro to Jewish Civilization” with Professor Stern during my freshman year, I started working with him as a research assistant. His research focuses on the development of factions in Palestinian political groups. What I’ve enjoyed most about helping with Professor Stern’s work has been seeing his research progress from the early stages to nearing publication. Working with him has given me great experience conducting quantitative social science research. In assisting with the text analysis portion of the research, I helped collect quotations from important figures in Palestinian politics, parse recurring themes and topics from the quotations, and then uncover broader trends across the data set. Coming to Georgetown, I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to begin work as a research assistant at the end of my first year, but the faculty at the CJC are incredibly accessible to their undergraduate students. I am looking forward to continuing to assist Professor Stern now that I am back from the Alaskan wilderness!
Q: How have you furthered your learning experience outside of the CJC?
A: One of my favorite parts of my academic experience has been attending guest lectures outside of my classes, whether it’s an on campus lecture in Gaston Hall or a presentation at a think tank downtown. Sophomore year, however, I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the podium! I took Professor Daniel Byman’s Centennial Lab on national security and social media. The goal of the lab was to produce original research. As part of a group of graduate and undergraduate students, I co-authored a paper about the user migration implications of deplatforming right-wing extremists from social media. After the course concluded, my group and I continued to refine our work at the direction of Professor Byman, and we were ultimately invited to present our research at an Army Futures Command conference in June of 2020. Getting feedback on our work from security professionals and leaders in the field was invaluable.
Q: What have been some of your favorite moments while an SFS student in general?
A: One of my most memorable moments as an SFS student was attending a lecture by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a friend of Pope Francis who has co-authored a book with him. It was a very Georgetown moment, given the emphasis on inter-religious dialogue within the educational experience at Georgetown. After the lecture, I wanted to ask the Rabbi a question, but it was quite loud in the room and difficult to hear. Since Rabbi Skorka is Argentinian, we switched to Spanish to make things easier. I was a few months away from my Spanish proficiency exam; talking with Rabbi Skorka was great practice!
My second favorite moment would have to be a field trip I took to Gettysburg my sophomore fall. I took a one credit class on the strategy and technology used at the battle. The culminating class took place on the battlefield one Saturday morning, and getting a tour from Professor Thomas McNaugher, a West Point graduate, made the discussions we had in class so much more tangible.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this upcoming semester?
A: This coming semester, I am looking forward to moving back to D.C. and seeing all of my friends, colleagues, classmates, and professors in person!