The following testimonials represent the diverse learning experiences, academic achievements, and post-graduation successes of the alumni of the Department of Humanities and Politics.
National Security Affairs | Class of 2018
Alumnus Ryan Johnston works at the Broward Sheriff’s Office as an investigative analyst for their Criminal Investigations Division. He started work in April 2019, just a few months after completing the M.S. in National Security Affairs and International Relations at NSU. Johnston reports that he is excited to take on this new challenge. “I will be able to put skills that I acquired from my time as a graduate student to good use. The NSAIR program was instrumental in my getting this job because it gave me an opportunity to get professional work experience through networking and internship opportunities.”
As a student in the NSAIR program, Johnston completed an internship for credit with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He also was able to tap in to the program’s facilitation of networking with current and former students working in the field of national security. Johnston distinguished himself during his time at NSU by founding the graduate student led Department of History and Political Science Leadership Council. He also served as the DHPS representative on the CAHSS Graduate Student Government Association.
International Studies | Class of 2013
National Security Affairs | Class of 2016
"NSU was instrumental in my scholastic, athletic and professional development. While at NSU, I was fortunate to have the discipline that academia and athletics require, as well as the support of phenomenal professors, peers and coaches. The diversity of NSU provided an environment rich in culture and facilitated many perspectives on local and global issues. This was extremely important and valuable to me. NSU gave me the platform to develop my passions as an undergraduate student and further propelled me to continue my education.
The National Security Affairs (NSA) program was delivered by some of the most outstanding and dedicated faculty. It is in this program I had the privilege to be in the Department of History and Political Science. Here, I was fortunate to collaborate with students that were inspired by the challenge and committed to excellence. My classes in the NSA program gave me insight into the ever changing local and international political climate, clandestine operations, race and ethnic relations and numerous topics. The latter has inspired me to further my scholastic endeavors in cultural studies, where I intend to look at the effects of slavery on the perception and portrayal of African American and Afro Caribbean women in the media, music industry and literature.
During my time as a graduate student, I conducted research as a Graduate Assistant for the Department of History and Political Science (DHPS). The research methods taught by professors as well as conducting research with the DHPS was priceless and was essential. I was thankful to grow and assist the department with ongoing projects. Currently I am conducting research for the furthering of my studies and I am able to take the research done at NSU to Caribbean Intransit. Caribbean Intransit is a cultural Meeting Place for social change through creativity and a showcase for Caribbean Creatives in the visual, culinary, performing and literary arts and architecture. It includes a bi-annual, open access, peer-reviewed journal, a newsletter, a Google talk series, a roving arts festival and an Arts workshop series targeting at-risk youth. NSU has also instilled the value of community and the development of the whole person and I intend to adhere to this ideology and develop programs that are geared toward enhancing lives. This belief in community has propelled me to establish swimming programs for underprivileged youth. I am thankful for NSU!"
National Security Affairs | Class of 2017
Damaris Hall graduated in 2017 with an M.S Degree in National Security Affairs at NSU, with a focus in International Relations. She served in six tours of duty in the United States Air Force in Kuwait, Pakistan, twice in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Kyrgyzstan. Hall also served as a Police Officer in the Community of Miami Dade for Miami-Dade Police Department. She has since retired from the United States Air Force Reserve as a Non-Commissioned Officer and as a Law Enforcement Officer with the Miami Dade Police. Her prior careers motivated her to pursue studies in National Security Affairs, due to the growing threats in National Security locally and Internationally. The National Security Affairs program is designed to broaden strategic perspective while fostering critical thinking and analytical skills that will have lasting professional-level effect because it incorporates an understanding in growing threats in conflicts in our society and globally today. She is currently a student at NSU pursuing a Doctoral degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
National Security Affairs | Class of 2014
Wade Evans is a 2014 graduate of the NSU M.S. in National Security Affairs. Evans recently assumed the role of Director, Planning and Program Design at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency where he leads a team responsible for the development and Congressional Notification of $1.4B in Department of Defense Building Partner Capacity programs. Additionally, he is a Captain in the United States Naval Reserve and is the Commanding Officer of the Commander Naval Surface Forces Atlantic Reserve Headquarters unit.
"The Nova National Securities Master's degree program was excellent and would highly recommend for other mid-career professionals in the defense, intelligence, diplomacy and policy sectors. In addition to high quality instruction, I was able to interact with a diverse group of students. Soon after I completed the program I was selected to be the first government civilian Chief, Office of Military Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar and the time spent discussing complex regional and cultural issues one on one with faulty was very useful."
Prior to NSU, Evans held a number of positions in and out of uniform focused on terrorism, international relations and military planning. Prior education included a B.S. in Political Science from the United States Naval Academy and graduate level professional military education programs at the Air Command and Staff College and Joint Forces Staff College. "NSU was very accommodating. After reviewing my previous education I was able to get credit for several core courses in the curriculum and was therefore able to jump right into elective courses in my International Relations concentration. The NSU program helped round out and fill in some of the gaps from my earlier education and set up to assume higher positions of responsibility in the Department of Defense and the Naval Reserve."
National Security Affairs | Class of 2017
I come from the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, known for the indelible mark it made on history as the first free black nation. A small island where corruption and civil and political unrest are rife. Growing up, a career in politics or law seemed more aligned with my personal objectives. After graduating with a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Saint Thomas University, I knew I wanted to further my studies. My quest for a program that would arm me with the right tools to tackle Haiti’s precarious situation led me to Nova Southeastern University, a school that has helped me achieve my goals and fueled my drive to success. Obtaining my Masters in National Security Affairs with an international focus was a transformative experience. The rich program not only fed my mind, it has given me the courage to demand more for my country and the world.
During the course of the program, I took advantage of the many opportunities given to me, including learning from some of the most seasoned educators and immersing myself in the classroom culture. NSU has been the bridge between my goals and my accomplishments.
I made use of the innovative concepts and strategies taught by my professors while serving as an advisor to the former Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Haitian Ambassador to Venezuela. Today, I am using my degree as a stepping-stone towards professional and personal success. I am now deciding between applying for law school or a Ph.D. program. My goal is to become a Human Rights Activist and fight for the preservation of justice for all.
National Security Affairs | Class of 2015
Aura Rojas graduated in 2015 with a M.S in National Security Affairs with a focus in International Relations. She is a Captain in the United States Army, and she is currently serving as the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Officer at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to her current assignment, she served at the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) where she was responsible for coordinating and assisting all matters related to the State Partnership Program, a Department of Defense program that is managed by the National Guard that oversees all the partnerships with more than 20 countries in Central and South America, and the Caribbean. She has also served as a facilitator for several diplomatic and trilateral engagements during this period of time. Her military career also includes work with Religious Affairs while supporting the U.S. Army mission.
“The greatest gift I received from my experience at Nova, was one of my professors, who inspired me to believe that my story needed to be shared. We are unique and diverse, we have a story to tell, a story that can change someone else’s life. I was born and raised in Colombia, South America, and for so many years, it was difficult for me to accept the fact that I was different, and I just wanted to fit the American standard, but little did I know that what makes me so valuable and special is how different I am, and how much I can help and serve others though my uniqueness. My life changed after my years at Nova, and today my job is to tell my story and motivate others to respect and accept each other through their uniqueness. I have been serving in the military for several years, but my military career was greatly impacted after the education I received at Nova, not only was my intellect developed, but the personal relations I developed changed my life forever.”
International Studies | Class of 2010
Michelle Rushefsky graduated in 2010 with a B.A. in International Studies with a minor in History and again in 2012 with another B.A. in English. Michelle also attended two summers at the Yale University Writers Conference where she worked-shopped various short stories and chapters from her first novel. In 2017, Michelle earned a Masters degree in Literature studies at the University of Surrey in the U.K., with a focus on female monstrosity, esotericism and the forgotten feminist figure Florence Farr. Michelle presented aspects of this paper at the Bicentenary Celebration of Florence Farr in London and at the Bicentenary of the Woman's suffrage movement in Surrey. Michelle is currently living in London, U.K., pursuing a Doctorate in Literature at the University of Surrey with an acute focus on expanding Neo-Victorian criticism to include 'low-brow' neo-nineteenth-century North American horror texts.
"NSU provided the initial freedom to explore different subjects which led me to the love of my life: Literature. It is because of NSU, I continue to pursue academic achievement. The professors during my undergraduate degree pledged support and fostered substantial academic rigor that inspired me not only as an early career researcher, but as an aspiring lecturer."
History | Class of 2010
Rose Velez currently works as a Student Advisor/Internship Coordinator for Educators for Quality Alternatives in New Orleans. Rose notes that as history major at NSU her professors “made an incredible mark in my life” by “helping me see the world differently” through the eyes of an historian. At NSU she found the subjects covered in history classes to be the most valuable in shaping her commitment to service. Before taking on her new position, Rose worked at a historical nonprofit in Southwest Florida as a Site Historian. She then focused her energies on serving youth in traditional/private school education, first taking on the role of Elementary Spanish & History Teacher for PreK-4 before transitioning to serving underserved communities in Westown as a College Counselor, and in New York’s Queensbridge Projects as an Assistant Director for a K-8th after school program. Rose then undertook a year of service with AmeriCorps Project YES! where she assisted students in finding their passion as a mentor and College Advisor. Her passion and genuine interest in serving youth in major cities and beyond has led her to New Orleans and her current post.
English & Psychology, Gender Studies Minor | Class of 2014
Alison Parente currently works as a Case Manager and Group Therapy Facilitator at a substance abuse and mental health treatment center. Prior to this she worked as a copy editor and freelance writer.
“My time as an English major at NSU truly changed my life. If it had not been for the guidance and wisdom of the faculty, the enrichment of the coursework, and the affirming and uplifting rapport I had with peers (which the program fostered), I would not be the person that I am today. The coursework pushed me to gain personal insight; the professors pushed me to gain professional insight. Both my heart and my mind flourished as an English major at NSU.
“[While at NSU] I was first an editor, and later a managing editor for Digressions. I also participated in academic conferences under the guidance of Dr. Waites and Dr. Dvorak during my time as an English major. What I am most thankful for from these experiences is that they challenged me to think creatively—applying course concepts to real-world situations—while simultaneously equipping me with invaluable skills that I would later use as a working professional. The unique perspectives that I gained through these experiences also became cornerstone to my sense of self-identity. For instance, because I was fortunate enough to learn about concepts like toxic masculinity, I was able to identify problematic language in marketing campaigns that other writers were not, and offer more inclusive alternatives. In turn, incorporating inclusivity not only into my professional practice, but my personal practice as well became a critical component of my core-value system.”
Humanities & Theater | Class of 2015
Angelica Zadak owns This is Improv and works in NSU’s College of Computing and Engineering as an Administrative Assistant.
“I was in Digressions all four years of undergrad. I started from being on the marketing committee and gradually worked my way to becoming Editor-in-Chief. Working in Digressions taught me about working with others, becoming inspired, and bringing visions to life. My experiences there has influenced my involvement in various organizations after my undergraduate degree.
“Working the Writing Center with Dr. Kevin Dvorak and the other writing fellows. Dr. Dvorak would treat us like fellow instructors in writing, working together to solve problems and accomplish goals. The writing fellows would talk endlessly between seeing student papers to work through our own scholarship and personal life goals. It was a supportive community.
“My degree brought validity to my interests and provided me with a new way of thinking. Instead of feeling insecurity from the formation of outlandish ideas, I was taught to explore ideas and refine them. By thinking this way, I was able to begin This Is Improv with my sister, where we give others the courage to be outlandish with our mission to ‘unconventionally help individuals to be heard and respected in the community, business, and life.’
“What made the difference in my degree were the relationships I formed with all of the faculty members I met along the way. We are lucky as students to have faculty members who teach their passion and are so willing to share it.”
English | Class of 2013
Since graduating at NSU in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English, I went on to get my Master’s from the University of Central Florida in Literary, Cultural, Textual Studies, and am now working on my doctoral dissertation at the University of Denver, where I tutor at the Writing Center, work as a Tutor and Tutor Advisor at the Learning Effectiveness program (which provides individualized academic support for students with learning differences), and teach classes in literature.
At NSU, I worked as a Writing Tutor in Academic Services and as a Fellow in the Writing Center. These constitute my first official exposure to collaboratively helping students in various stages of their writing process, which I do now both at DU and as a freelancer. My job as a Fellow provided me with the invaluable experience of learning pedagogical tactics from English faculty, whose methodologies I still reflect on when teaching my own classes. This position also afforded me the unique opportunity of delivering a conference paper at the Southeastern Writing Center Association conference as an undergraduate.
While all of the classes I took at NSU were formative influences on my academic career, those that especially stand out are the required Literary Criticism course––which not only introduced me to a variety of theoretical modes integral to the study of literature, but also challenged me to think critically––and Studies in Poetry, the Beat Generation, and American Transcendentalism, all of which figure heavily in my dissertation. Pedagogically speaking, I was energized by my professors’ passion for the areas in which they teach, and how they creatively constructed class lectures, discussions, and activities to transmit their passion to students. I have gone back to my NSU syllabi and class notes many times throughout graduate school, and I imagine I will continue to do so!
English | Class of 2009
Sheela VanHoose, B.A. ('09), is the director of government affairs and public policy at Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), a Fort Lauderdale-based education management company where she oversees local and state government affairs in Florida.
Prior to joining CSUSA in 2015, VanHoose was the director of legislative affairs for Broward County Public Schools. She worked for three years in the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott, for which she served as director of scheduling and advancement and as a special assistant/regional representative to the governor. In 2014, Scott appointed VanHoose to the board of the North Broward Hospital District, the ninth largest public hospital system in the United States.
At NSU, VanHoose was an English major who was active in the Student Government Association and College Republicans. She was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. She is a second-degree black belt champion and a former member of the U.S. National Karate Team.
VanHoose participated in Leadership Broward’s Class of XXXIV, and serves on the boards of the Broward County Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Broward Days, and the Village Square—Broward College.
“I will always remember the lively debates in the Student Government Association and the battle of wits using Roberts Rules of Order. But my fondest memory at NSU was the 9-11 memorial we set up in 2007,’’ she said. “We invited students to help us put up 2,996 U.S. flags representing the lives lost [on September 11, 2001]. It was incredibly moving to see students from different political, religious, and cultural backgrounds come together. I would not be where I am today if not for NSU. I would never have imagined a career in politics, but NSU helped me cultivate a passion for politics that changed my life trajectory.”
English | Class of 2014
I graduated from NSU in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Following this, I attended the University of Bristol in England and received my Master’s degree with Merit in English Literature in 2016. I currently live in Boston and work in the editorial department of an imprint of the publishing house, Macmillan. While at Nova, I was a member of the Honors program and Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors program. In my sophomore year I joined the staff of the undergraduate literary magazine, Digressions, as an editor and worked my way up to become editor-in-chief in my senior year. I was also active in the Writing Fellows Program and presented research on my work in the program at the 2013 Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference and the 2013 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. During my undergraduate summers I had the wonderful opportunity to be an intern in the production department of academic publisher, Taylor & Francis Group.
The English major at Nova allowed me to work with professors who provided me with great guidance and counsel on my academic career. Their courses challenged me to think critically and creatively about literature, culture, and society. Nova Southeastern University’s English major is a versatile degree, one that provided me with critical thinking, research, analysis, and communication skills that are applicable to many different career paths. The education I received from Nova Southeastern University’s English major was fundamental to my graduate studies and has been of great value to me in my career.
Political Science/International Law Minor | Class of 2016
Vanessa DuBoulay graduated in 2016 with a B.A in Political Science and a minor in International Law. She is currently teaching 5th grade at Jesse J. McCrary Jr. Elementary in Miami-Dade as per her commitment to Teach For America and AmeriCorps. As part of Vanessa’s two-year pledge, she serves at a Title 1 School categorized among the “persistently lowest-achieving” schools of the County. Her exposure to the public school system and immersion with educational policy has inspired Vanessa to continue her studies in the realms of development and human rights.
Vanessa participated in many extracurricular activities and held leadership positions within several organizations, namely, NSU’s Model United Nations team (NIRA), Undergraduate Student Government Association, President’s 64. She claims that these experiences allowed her to develop skills she uses every day. Additionally, through her participation in The Washington Center’s internship program Vanessa was able to gain experience in the fields of Human Rights and International Development. This hands on opportunity provided through NSU helped Vanessa decide what focus area to pursue following graduation. Vanessa also interned for the DNC Chair during the 2016 presidential elections. She continues to build on skills provided by NSU through volunteering with the Southern Regional Model United Nations.
“I owe my success to my professors at NSU, their guidance and rigorous classes allowed me to obtain the quality education I needed. The International Relations, Global Politics, and Comparative Legal Systems classes allowed me to explore in depth the areas I was passionate about and shaped the lens through which I see my professional career today. NSU gave me the tools and opportunities I needed to be successful.”
Legal Studies | Class of 2016
Veronika Balbuzanova graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Legal Studies and a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is currently pursuing a J.D. at NSU’s Shepard Broad College of Law and expects to graduate in 2019. For the Winter 2017 semester, Balbuzanova ranked first in her class out of 191 students. “At the end of the day, I was just really glad that all of my hard work during the year had paid off,” she said. “Despite the added pressure to maintain my rank in the coming year, it is really great motivation to maintain my work ethic and be even more diligent next semester.” A South Florida native, Balbuzanova became interested in studying the law after a high school philosophy course.
Balbuzanova said some of her favorite courses from her undergraduate years included Constitutional History I-II and Legal Research and Trial Advocacy. She said starting law school can seem intimidating at first after hearing about the amount of reading and work involved. “As time goes on, you focus on why you’re here and the big picture, and then you can get through anything. She also has some advice for Legal Studies students, including keeping all cases and assignments to use as future reference material. “Pay attention and try to enjoy the topic. If you enjoy it, you’ll remember things and it’ll be easier in law school to remind yourself of the material.” Balbuzanova said she is still considering what sector of law she wants to work in after graduation.
Political Science/Legal Studies | Class of 2014
Following her graduation, Desiree Kennedy moved to Washington, D.C. to take advantage of the opportunities provided to her by NSU. Through her participation in The Washington Center internship program and experiences of classes and extracurricular activities at NSU, Kennedy was able to secure a job in D.C. As an active member of NSU's Model United Nations Team and NSU's Mock Trial Team, she was able to utilize the information she learned in the classroom and develop it into real life skills she uses every day. Now a recent graduate of The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, Kennedy is currently working in Health Policy and Government Affairs for Elekta, a Swedish medical device company that manufactures radiotherapy devices. She has continued to develop the skills and relationships provided to her by NSU through volunteering with the Southern Regional Model United Nations.
Political Science | Class of 2015
Kelsey Obringer is currently a doctoral student at the University of Delaware in the Political Science and International Relations Department. Her research focuses primarily on food politics and alternative food movements. Additionally, she is the Senior Program Assistant for the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program at the University of Delaware. She reports that her decision to attend NSU was the best education decision she could have made. Obringer was a four-year member of the NSU women's rowing team and a member of the 2013 NCAA Women's National Championship team. Additionally, she participated in NSU's Model United Nations Team (NIRA), Undergraduate Student Government, and President's 64.
"Had I not gone to NSU, I would not have waltzed in to Dr. Nelson Bass' American Government class and realized my passion for politics. NSU also gave me the opportunity to participate in a number of unique extracurricular activities that taught me valuable lessons that I carry with me to this day. The options available to me at NSU gave me a unique experience wherein I was able to step out of my comfort zone and explore areas I never imagined."
Philosophy/Legal Studies | Class of 2013
"Two years after graduating from NSU, I am finally preparing to continue my education next fall at the UCLA School of Law. Since graduation I have held positions as an event project manager, a university men’s soccer assistant and a kitchen and staff manager. While these jobs are very different, what has enabled me to succeed in each is the ability to quickly weigh the consequences of different decisions. That is, the ability to think critically and analytically – something I developed as a student at NSU. As I prepare for what will hopefully be the most exciting and transformative time of my life, I know that the growth I experienced at NSU, along with the questioning and critical thinking skills I developed as a philosophy student, will play an integral role in my continuing education and the success of my career thereafter."