Can you describe your professional ventures after graduating from Minerva?
After graduation, I worked in D.C. for a year at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. After that year, I moved back to Amman, Jordan, where I am now working as a Senior Researcher at the Royal Hashemite Court. My work mostly involves conducting research, writing briefs, and preparing literature reviews.
What is a project you have worked on that you are most proud of?
I think the amount of information that I have learned, especially about fields that I had never encountered before, has been the aspect I am most proud of. At my first job, I was able to focus and gain expertise in all things related to Libya. However, I am now working on a number of broad issues, including the impacts of violent conflict and climate change. What has been most interesting is learning how both issues are interconnected and how you cannot decouple them from each other. In a short period of time, I learned so much about these themes individually, but more importantly, I have learned how they can affect and respond to each other.
What was the hardest part about entering your current career?
The hardest part was the lack of access. There is a lot of competition and few positions. You really need to prove the ways in which you are unique. My Minerva professors supported me in entering this very competitive field of work in Washington, D.C. I think it is really helpful to remind ourselves that we can ask for help. I found that professors are happy to go above and beyond to help you get involved in the field you are passionate about.
What type of professional development experiences did you engage in during your Minerva journey that helped you in your current career?
One summer, I was a Research Assistant for Professor Tomer Perry, where I worked on the role of facilitation in conflict resolution. That was an incredible experience because it was also my first research internship and it helped me prepare for a full-time research assistant job. He was very familiar with how research assistant jobs work and operate. It was very helpful to shadow him because it was exactly what I wanted to do in the future. I had the chance to develop a connection with my professor—since I worked for him for the entire summer, he learned more about my capabilities in writing and research. So at the end of my internship, I was able to ask for a recommendation letter that was of immense value when I was applying for jobs.
What are some learnings from your Minerva classes that you find yourself applying to your life or work now?
Definitely the course on Complex Systems. When attempting to contextualize any issues or crises, I begin by identifying the stakeholders, their connections to each other as a community, and any feedback loops present to explore how one event or experience may have exacerbated the effects of another. The course was very helpful in teaching us to visualize systems, a crucial skill that I have continued and will continue to use across research projects and jobs. I especially enjoyed Professor Levy Odera's seminars and assignments that taught the use of mind maps and other visualizations processes. Ever since, I have used mind maps as the first step for any research or writing project to help me brainstorm, think through complex issues, and create an outline.
What part of your Minerva experience most significantly informed your current perspective on the world and the way you approach what you are working on?
I find myself thinking about my Minerva experience a lot, whether it was at my job here or before. As part of my research, I had the opportunity to explore the idea of creative destruction which is simply replacing the old with the new and I feel like that is basically what Minerva was. Creative destruction is not regarding issues in silos but thinking of them in an interdisciplinary, connected way, which is what we were taught to do at Minerva.
Can you talk me through your Capstone project?
Writing my Capstone was one of my favorite experiences at Minerva. My research focused on how women's increased political participation may lead to stability and long-term development in post-conflict countries. So the argument was that if you have more women in power in transitional governments after conflict, the chances of conflict erupting again decrease, and the chances of long-term stability and economic and social development increase. One of the theories is that women are more likely to advocate for increased funding for areas like education, water, and food. I was able to use empirical research to support my argument, in addition to theoretical evidence. My Capstone concluded with a number of recommendations including a political training program to facilitate women's political participation, through, for example, financially supporting their political campaigns and reducing the social stigma about women in government. As a Libyan, my motivation for this project was personal, not just academic. In the future, I hope to continue working on the themes that I explored in my Capstone, including gender disparities, political participation, and post-conflict stability.
If you were inspired by Ranwa's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.