Happy April! To usher in the Spring, CJC student Talia Fogelman sat down with us for our latest CJC Student Spotlight. Fogelman is a study abroad student from London. Previously, she studied at the University of Sussex and currently majors in both English and American Studies at Georgetown. Read our interview with her below!
Q: Hi, Talia! Can you briefly tell our audience about yourself?
A: This is my final year of my undergraduate education! When not studying, you can find me with my sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, where I sit on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, or organizing with Federal Relations Society. In the U.K. I spend most of my free time organizing. I am particularly passionate about mental health services reform, as well as LGBTQI+ rights and inclusion.
Q: And what are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: I really love musical theatre. At the University of Sussex, I was involved in a musical production every year that I was on campus. The last production I worked on was Chicago in 2019. I was the prop designer, which was a huge step up from being a stagehand. I love being involved in shows. I love the music, excitement and levels of details that go into it, especially in a large-scale production. I also love reading! Recently, I had Covid and read a different book every day of my isolation period. I covered Queer Theory, true crime, and classic journalism. Because schoolwork keeps me so busy, I haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, so reading for pleasure became the silver lining of a terrible experience.
Q: Happy you could find a silver lining! Can you tell us a bit more about your transfer experience?
A: I am incredibly passionate about enacting political change and have a particular interest in the American political landscape. This meant that when I was looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to be in D.C. When I was on vacation two years ago, I came to look at Georgetown’s campus to get a sense of the atmosphere. Everyone was so friendly, and the campus was so beautiful. I then looked further into the classes offered and there were so many great options for my major. I also wanted to live in a city where I would feel safe and comfortable as both a Queer and Jewish person, and D.C. ticked both those boxes. Additionally, I wanted to be challenged academically and I felt that Georgetown would be more than challenging. This, and the opportunity to build relationships with practitioners and students in the city through the various initiatives offered by the university. In short, I felt as though Georgetown would meet my professional and personal needs.
My transfer experience was quite turbulent. Due to the pandemic, I did not know for certain whether I would be coming until about six weeks before I moved. I was meant to come to Georgetown the year before, but online teaching made this impossible. This made the build up quite stressful, and meant that I was not convinced I was coming to Georgetown until I was on the plane! Once I arrived and settled into my apartment, everything else was quite simple. It turned out getting here was the hardest part.
Q: We’re so happy you got here! How were you introduced to the CJC? How has it impacted your time at Georgetown?
A: I was introduced by Professor and CJC Director Bruce Hoffman. I was riding in an elevator with him during my first week at Georgetown. He noticed my Magen David necklace and introduced himself as the Center’s Director. He told me to stop by the and a few days later, even had Jocelyn email me, inviting me to a mixer. I was so shocked that he had remembered me and gone out of his way like that. I now know this act of kindness is completely in character for Professor Hoffman, but as a new student it blew me away.
The CJC has been one of the strongest sources of community, support, and comfort at Georgetown. I met some of my closest friends sitting in the lounge, and my favorite classes have all been CJC ones. I even work at the Center! My time at Georgetown has been infinitely better because of it and all the people who work here.
Q: What has been your favorite CJC class thus far?
A: I would have to say “The Weaponization of Hate” with Professor Jacob Ware. I became interested in domestic terrorism last semester in my “Post 9/11 Culture” class. I appreciate the opportunity to think in greater detail about operating terrorist organizations, as well as the history of domestic terrorism. I am really looking forward to learning more about their methodologies in the coming weeks.
Q: What are some of your additional academic interests? Has being in the Center allowed you to further explore them?
A: When I arrived at Georgetown, my main academic focus was Queer political history. I decided to use my time here to explore other topics that I had not covered as much previously. One of those blind spots was foreign relations and the policymaking process. I discovered a real passion for this area of study thanks to Professor Danielle Pletka. This led to me taking Professor Hoffman’s “Insurgency and Counterinsurgency” class this semester. I hoped to have a better understanding of both military and insurgent strategy to improve my appreciation of issues impacting legislators. I found that these classes complimented each other in surprising ways, and are each fascinating in their own rights.
Q: How have you furthered your learning experience outside of Georgetown? This can be through internships, or other extracurricular activities.
A: I am currently applying for summer internships and am hoping to spend this summer in D.C. interning somewhere where I can expand my understanding of politics. The main learning experiences I have had involved attending talks held by various schools in the area, which I highly recommend to current and incoming students! Queuing from 7:30 in the morning to hear former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak and attending CJC talks have been such highlights of my time at Georgetown.
Q: What have been some of your other favorite moments while a student here?
A: The CJC gets the best speakers and I get to transcribe their lectures for my work as a student assistant. This is honestly the best perk of my job. I also really enjoy listening to the other students and faculty members at the CJC lounge talk about foreign relations and politics. I have learned so much from them in such a short period of time. I also love being part of my sorority. When I first joined, everyone said that you will probably have at least one Theta in your classes. I have loved turning around and spotting another Theta in a class; it gives you a basis for a bond. Federal Relations Society is also such a bright spot in my time at Georgetown. Working with such passionate students on initiatives like voter registration drives has been so wonderful and affirming. I have been so lucky to find such great communities in such a short period of time.
Q: Could you tell us how your on-campus club, research, or work commitments supplement your learning?
A: Earlier, I mentioned that I am part of the Federal Relations Society. This is a non-partisan action society. We seek to effect non-partisan political change, both on campus and in the wider D.C. community. This semester I am working on voter registration and information initiatives with them. We are currently working on a collaboration with GU Votes for the end of the month. I am so excited about what we have planned and cannot wait for our actual event. This allows me to put my political learning into action. My focus in my degree has been US political history. Working on initiatives like this allows me to take all that passion and learning and make a positive impact with it.
Q: What are you most looking forward to as you close out your time on the Hilltop? Do you have any advice to students on how they can make the most of their time here?
A: I am looking forward to finishing my undergraduate education and moving onto the next phase of my academic career. Getting to graduate with an actual ceremony is so exciting, especially after COVID. While my time at Georgetown has been short, I would suggest that students say yes to every opportunity that comes their way. Saying yes has led me to some of the best people and the most amazing experiences. There is always something to do and good trouble to be made at Georgetown, I would tell students to keep their eyes peeled and use their power to effect positive change using resources available to them.
Q: Tell us about your plans after Georgetown! What are you most looking forward to?
A: After Georgetown I am moving back to London. In September, I will be starting a Masters in American Politics and History. I could not be more excited to see my family and friends in the UK and for this next learning opportunity. I am going to miss D.C. and everyone I have met here, but I plan to visit!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Talia! Stay tuned for our next student spotlight.