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MIIS Students in Moscow
Middlebury Institute students Meagan Braun MBA/MAIEP ‘15, Sarah Bidgood MANPTS ‘16, and Miranda Diebel MBA/IPS ‘15 at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.

Three Middlebury Institute students, Miranda Diebel MBA/MAIPS ’15, Meagan Braun MBA/MAIEP ’15, and Sarah Bidgood MANPTS ’16, have been selected to participate in Stanford University’s U.S.-Russia Forum (SURF). They are among twenty American and twenty Russian students selected for the program, which began with a conference in Moscow and will include eight months of work on collaborative research projects. Participants will present their research findings at a spring capstone conference at Stanford University.

Meagan and Sarah have combined their participation at the Stanford program with professional field research supported by the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies. After the conference Meagan traveled to the Russian Far East where she has been meeting with people in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, scientific institutions and park management as part of a research project on protected areas. Meagan’s SURF team will focus on the national parks and protected areas systems of the U.S. and Russia, aiming to identify management strategies that have been effective in each country that could be successfully implemented in the other. “This is such a direct link to my personal and professional interests that I almost can’t believe that such a program exists!”

Sarah, who focuses on U.S.-Russia bilateral nuclear arms control and nuclear security efforts in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program, attended the prestigious PIR Center International School on Global Security as the only American in a class of 24 students. The entire program was conducted in Russian and Sarah gave a presentation on the future of U.S. policies following the 2015 NPT Review Conference, participated in debates, and received high scores on her final exam. “Through the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum, I have the opportunity to work with young Russian and American experts in the nuclear security field to make real advances toward restoring this tradition of collaboration.”

Miranda, who has an undergraduate degree in European Politics and is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese, is part of a team researching civil aviation and doing a market analysis of U.S. and Russian manufacturers competing in the Chinese emerging airline industry. “My group feels that the development of civil aviation in emerging markets is an important contributing factor towards reaching the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goal (decent work and economic growth).” Their group is being mentored by Boeing Russia.

All three students say their participation in this program and the support they have received from the Institute are critical to their career aspirations. Meagan will join Deloitte Consulting in February as a full-time employee, a job she secured after interning in their Social Impact Service Line over the summer. “It is a perfect fit for my interests in business strategy and social/environmental responsibility. There is also plenty of potential for international projects, so I may end up one day on a project in Russia!”

Miranda, who is also graduating in December, says participating in the SURF program gives her “a deep understanding of U.S.-Russia policy and coordination,” important for her career in the U.S. government. Sarah still has two more semesters at the Institute, but is excited about the opportunity to connect with a cohort of international peers and to keep building her knowledge and experience in the field.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir