In May 2023, Mia Filardi, a graduating senior in international studies and Finnish with a focus on language and culture, was selected for a U.S. Fulbright award that will take her to Finland in autumn 2023 for two years. We recently asked her a few questions about her journey while at the UW and Jackson School. Mia was one of 12 University of Washington students who received a 2023-2024 Fulbright, joining about 2,000 students and recent graduates from around the country to study and teach abroad.
Name: Mia Filardi
Degree: International Studies and Finnish ’23
Expected to graduate in: June 2023
Hometown: Scituate, Massachusetts
Title of award: Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Fulbright-Tampere University Graduate Award
Jackson School: How did you decide to major in International Studies?
Mia Filardi: When I came to UW, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or what kind of career I wanted to have, but I knew that I was curious about the world around me and wanted to learn more about different cultures and different ways of living in the world. I found the Jackson School when I walked past their table in Red Square during my first week at UW and quickly became interested in the interdisciplinary nature of the major that would allow me to explore many different fields and passions within an international framework.
Jackson School: What was an impactful educational experience you had at the UW?
M.F.: One of the most impactful experiences I’ve had at the UW was the Task Force project that I completed as my capstone project for the International Studies major. My project focused on researching, analyzing, and creating solutions that countered the current rise of the far-right in Europe, something which I am very passionate about and which aligns well with my other major in Finnish language and culture. My paper focused on the political economy of immigration and the ways in which anti-immigrant groups and parties invoke fear of immigrants burdening a country’s economy to gain support for their policies and beliefs. After a quarter of dedicated research and writing, I found the presentation day to be the most nerve-wracking and most rewarding experience of the class. We presented our findings to Conny Reuter, the global coordinator of the Progressive Alliance, and he posed questions back to us to challenge or further engage our research. This project allowed me to gain real world experience in researching and presenting my ideas. It also enabled me to produce a deliverable that I can point to as a culmination of my time here in the Jackson School.
Jackson School: How will you be spending your time as a Fulbright in Finland?
M.F.: I was awarded a Fulbright grant to complete a master’s degree in Finland, and I will spend the next two years completing a Master’s of Social Sciences in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Tampere University. I am excited to apply the skills that I have learned from my major in International Studies to the field of Peace Research to hone my knowledge and learn more about various conflicts and types of conflicts throughout the world as well as potential conditions for peace. Outside of the classroom, I plan to continue to play ice hockey, a sport which I have been playing for most of my life. I am the founder and outgoing president of the Women’s club hockey team here at the UW, and hope to continue to pursue my passion while immersing myself in Finnish culture and putting my Finnish language skills to use.
Jackson School: What type or career pathway are you hoping to pursue?
M.F.: After my master’s program, I am interested in returning to the U.S. to join the U.S. Foreign Service and work for the U.S. abroad. I am passionate about travel and global connections, and hope to use my newfound knowledge in Peace Research to work through complex global challenges and facilitate cross-cultural understandings and global partnerships.
Jackson School: What key skills have you learned you think you’ll take with you in your career?
M.F.: The Jackson School has taught me to think creatively and holistically about complex challenges in order to create new perspectives and solutions. Additionally, I have developed skills in research and writing that I will take with me to graduate school and beyond, as well as the ability to work effectively and efficiently with those who provide different perspectives from my own.
Jackson School: Is there anything else you want us to know?
M.F.: I am grateful to the Jackson School for allowing me to explore various passions and interests within the field of international studies in order to determine which path is best for me. Additionally, all of the professors and TAs [Teaching Assistants] that I have had have been incredibly supportive and approachable, and have pushed me to think beyond my own world views to see new perspectives and new ways of thinking and living.