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Task Force Q&A: Richie Doan

June 10, 2024

In spring quarter 2024, 19 international studies and global and regional studies students majors completed the Jackson School’s Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program, a capstone course that involved eight weeks of research, writing and group collaboration on a current global issue. Student-led and guided by faculty, the program culminates during Task Force Evaluation Day, when each Task Force presents to an external, senior-level foreign policymaker.

Richie Doan at podium

Richie Doan ’24

Name: Richie Doan
Expected to graduate in: Spring 2024
Major: Computer Science and Global and Regional Studies
Hometown: Renton, WA

Task Force Title: U.S.- Japan Alliance in the World
Task Force Instructor: Saadia Pekkanen

What has been your favorite Task Force experience?
My favorite Task Force experience was Evaluation Day. While this was certainly the most daunting day, I found it also to be the most rewarding. It was during our evaluation that I was able to see how far we came as a team. Looking back at our presentation, I am grateful and relieved to see how we managed to balance a cohesive message on the U.S.-Japan Alliance while respecting the multitude of nuances pertaining to this subject. During our defense, I was impressed by each member’s ability to dissect complex questions posed by Dr. Martin and adapt their responses in the moment. Evaluation Day, as nerve-wracking as it was, served as a testament to how transformative this experience was for all of us.

Your takeaway key skill from Task Force?
The most valuable skill I was able to improve through the Task Force program were my communication skills. Given the tight timeline of the program, I learned to discard any pleasantries that came with getting to know my cohort very quickly. During our meetings, conversations often became contentious and tense. In these moments, I learned to improve my active listening skills. At the same time, I also honed my ability to share my ideas on subjects where opinions often conflicted. These skills helped me become a more sensitive listener while still being able to assert my opinion in a respectful and meaningful manner. I have found immediate value to these skills as I have found myself applying these communications skills in contexts outside the classroom. Moving forward, I can only imagine that the lessons I learned about communication from this Task Force will continue to aid my ability to dialogue in the public policy space.

Advice to prospective Jackson School majors?
The International Studies major is extremely broad and touches on many topics. This can be overwhelming to navigate at first, but it also invites you to pursue your curiosity. My advice would be to take advantage of this breadth to take agency in personalizing your education. Towards the end of this major, you get to demonstrate this learned capacity with the Task Force, which ultimately tests your ability to determine your own next steps. As a student, I found that this was an extremely unique opportunity in that regard. I am fully confident that the lessons I learned from this experience will be crucial for determining the steps that I will choose moving forward.

What career are you interested in pursuing after graduation?
I am interested in the intersection of technology and policy broadly. Whether that leads me into the industry or government, I am not fully sure yet. However, I am certain that I want to contribute to a space that allows me to navigate difficult conversations concerning the most effective way of developing and adopting emergent technologies.