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ASU Online program, lab fellowship helps student work toward dream career in international affairs and human rights

Portrait of ASU student Devin Parker.

Devin Parker is pursuing a master’s degree in international affairs and leadership through ASU Online, and is gaining invaluable experience as one of the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab’s spring 2023 fellows. Photo courtesy Devin Parker

March 20, 2023

Devin Parker was in her early 20s when she began contemplating a career in international affairs and leadership. But before she knew how to get there, she decided a good place to start was working with local nonprofits.

“I worked with women coming out of human trafficking, refugees, women in halfway homes and eventually for a nonprofit restaurant that employed young men and women coming out of the juvenile justice system,” Parker said. “The perspective I gained from working with underrepresented groups changed my worldview.”

During that time, Parker had three daughters, another life-changing experience that ultimately brought her original goal back into focus.

“After I had my girls, it was a simple conversation with my husband,” she recalled. “He asked what I wanted to do for the next 30 or 40 years. I happened to be staring at a picture of my girls and responded ‘I want to ensure the rights of women and children globally.’ And here we are.”

Today, Parker is pursuing a master’s degree in international affairs and leadership through ASU Online, and is one of the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab’s (LDNS Lab) spring 2023 fellows. The program appealed to her partly because the courses are taught by former United States ambassadors and military general officers.

“I saw the value in receiving my education from those with lived experiences. It was a perspective I could not pass up,” Parker said.  

What’s more, the resources she gained access to as an LDNS Lab Fellow allowed her to participate in Washington Week — a weeklong leadership experience in Washington, D.C., where students hear industry experts speak from personal experience on international affairs and current issues.  

“Involving yourself within the lab is an opportunity to gain something valuable for your knowledge base and make connections with others in the program. It does take effort and commitment, but (it's) worth it,” Parker said.

In addition to that experience, Parker has led a cross-cultural exchange program engaging with other master’s students in Kyiv, Ukraine; is currently part of a project working with the embassy in Skopje, North Macedonia, doing research to produce a video and historical document to further enhance training in the area by the U.S. State Department; and is working with her mentor, Ambassador Edward O’Donnell, a professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies, on ASU’s Genocide Awareness Week taking place April 17–21.

For Parker, pursuing her dream of a career in international affairs and human rights can come with its challenges. But she is grateful for the support of her family and is willing to put in the work to be a positive example for her daughters.

“When time gets tight and I am up until midnight writing papers or researching projects, I have their pictures hung above my desk for motivation to succeed,” she said. “I also have an incredibly supportive husband. I could not articulate the amount he has taken on while I am pursuing my master’s to help support me.”

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