ASU student combines interests in global studies, emergency management
Growing up in southern New Jersey, Brianna Stinsman knew she wanted to go to a large state school. However, her hometown high school had limited resources, so although she applied to five different universities, she did not tour a single campus due to financial and time constraints.
Drawn to Arizona State University because of its culture and research initiatives, Stinsman made it her mission to find a “miracle scholarship.” After searching through the pages of ASU's scholarship portal, she found and applied to Next Generation Service Corps — a four-year leadership program that develops character-driven, adaptive leaders.
“The day I was accepted into the Public Service Academy at ASU, I immediately committed to ASU,” Stinsman said. “I knew that this would be a transformational experience that would radically alter the trajectory of my future, for the good.”
Currently a senior at ASU, Stinsman is majoring in global studies, and public service and public policy, with a concentration on emergency management and homeland security.
Through the Next Generation Service Corps, Stinsman has worked toward completing her certificate in cross-sector leadership. The program has not only given her the confidence that she belongs in the room where decisions are being made, but that she and her fellow students are the future leaders of tomorrow.
“Being a survivor of Hurricane Sandy, I was exposed firsthand to the failures of cross-sector collaboration in crucial moments such as natural disasters,” Stinsman said. “I was interested in learning more about the existing limitations in each sector and how innovative approaches can overcome these shortcomings.”
Stinsman was originally inspired to declare as a global studies major after learning about the humanitarian crisis in Syria during the height of war. She decided she would spend her time at ASU learning about why and how such human suffering could be so overlooked by the world.
“The global studies degree paired with the policy degree focused on emergency management would prepare me to find solutions to protect civilians caught in the crosshairs of war.”
The global studies courses that she has taken have only solidified her decision. She enjoyed the content from courses like "contemporary global trends," taught by Henry Sivak, School of Politics and Global Studies senior lecturer, which were not only challenging but pushed her outside her comfort zone.
“This solidified my path as a global studies student,” Stinsman said.
She found ways to learn outside the classroom as well.
Through an internship with the Welcome to America Project, Stinsman was able work with newly arrived refugees in Phoenix. The cross-cultural experience inspired Stinsman to pursue an academic path in international affairs and crisis leadership with the mission of promoting peace-building in foreign policy and protecting human rights around the world.
“Working with this organization really pushed me to take empathy and transform it into policy action and community mobilization for the years to come,” she said.
Stinsman studied abroad with ISA in Gold Coast, Australia, in the spring of 2020, where she participated in Griffith University’s Community Internship Program for Reporters Without Borders. Through the program, Stinsman served as an assistant country correspondent for Timor-Leste, The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, working under journalist Bob Howarth.
“I will continue to be an advocate for the Asia-Pacific region over the course of my career,” Stinsman said. “I really hope to work on empowering communities in this region to become more resilient to climate change, political instability and natural disasters.”
After two months abroad, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Stinsman’s return to the United States, where she continued her work for Reporters Without Borders. She was able to utilize her emergency management education by creating and maintaining a database tracking COVID-19 cases in the Pacific for the journalism community and general public.
During the 2020–21 academic year, she was a research fellow with the Center on the Future of War. Stinsman engaged in a weekly seminar with School of Politics and Global Studies professors of practice Jeff Kubiak and Daniel Rothenberg, exploring implications of warfare in the 21st century.
Last summer, Stinsman also participated in the Capital Scholars Program, where students can live and intern in Washington, D.C. The program exposed her to a variety of professional opportunities in domestic and international policy. As a Capital Scholar, she worked with the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in their Division of Operations.
“This internship connected my coursework on the national incident management system, incident command system, emergency operation plans, etc., and put it into practice,” Stinsman said. “I believe this experience really turned me into an emergency management professional who can serve in a variety of contexts.”
Stinsman has also connected with other ASU students who aspire to be emergency managers through the Emergency Management Student Association, where she is currently the president. With Stinsman at the helm, the student organization aimed to help those in need during the pandemic. Student volunteers from the organization and beyond assisted the community with various emergency needs such as testing, hospital logistic strike teams, vaccinations, EOC support and more.
“Our organization really stepped up during this public health crisis, and I couldn’t be more proud of our members for their continued commitment to public service and emergency management,” Stinsman said.
Stinsman with fellow Emergency Management Student Association member Mark Themes at an APS nuclear generator training exercise.Photo Courtesy Brianna Stinsman
Stinsman's all-female team with the International Rescue Committee APA team assisting with the resettlement process for ASU's 64 new Afghan refugee undergraduates.Photo Courtesy Brianna Stinsman
Stinsman presenting about her time in Griffith University’s Community Internship Program for Reporters Without Borders.Photo Courtesy Brianna Stinsman
Stinsman volunteering with the Next Generation Service Corps at the IRC Phoenix Community Garden.Photo Courtesy Brianna Stinsman
While enrolled in School of Politics and Global Studies Instructor Charles Ripley’s professional global career development course, Stinsman decided she would strive to become a Foreign Service Officer. Now, this spring, as a USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Fellow, she is one step closer to realizing that goal.
It was a rigorous application and interview process but Stinsman was able to utilize the resources at ASU for help.
“ASU’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement helped me prepare all of these things,” Stinsman said. “I also had a lot of feedback from professors within the School of Politics and Global Studies, friends-turned-foreign service fellows and individuals within my network.”
As a fellow, Stinsman will work as a conflict stabilization and government officer, where she will get to learn more about Congress’ role in humanitarian response.
“I am the most excited to be on the ground representing the U.S. in natural disasters and severe crises while shaping policy,” she said.
Thanks to the scholarship that the fellowship provides, she will work toward completing a master’s degree in international relations or international affairs after she graduates ASU. Stinsman says her global studies education will provide the framework for her success as a graduate student.
“Most importantly, this major taught me to be a global citizen,” she said. “If we can use our own personal influence to empower our communities to take collective action on the issues that impact us, we can positively influence society in a great way.”
As a global studies student, Stinsman had multiple opportunities to help conceptualize international affairs. Whether it be participating in the Model United Nations of the Far West conference or the Policy Design Studio, she feels prepared for what is next.
“(I have) utter and sincere gratitude for every individual I’ve come across during my time here,” Stinsman said. “I will take pride in representing the School of Politics and Global Studies in every room I walk into moving forward.”