Ally Ottis graduated from the MA International Relations Program in 2021 and is from Naples, Florida. She majored in Political Science in her undergraduate studies at University of North Florida before coming to NYU.
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
I chose the IR program at NYU because I was drawn to how personalized and diverse the program felt compared to others I applied to. Other IR programs appeared to be geared toward future government employment, and that was never really my goal post-graduation. NYU offers the ability to essentially design your own degree in order to explore your individual interests and goals, and that spoke to the kind of graduate school experience I was looking for. There were also many professors that specialized in my focus area (international security, Russia/post-Soviet affairs) and I was excited to be able to learn from them. I've wanted to live in NYC for as long as I can remember, so being a graduate student in NYC and having access to all the opportunities the city has to offer felt too good to pass up!
Which has been the class you most enjoyed? And the one in which you learned the most?
The class I’ve enjoyed the most, and simultaneously learned the most from, has definitely been Prof. Helman’s U.S. National Security course. You have to be dedicated because it's tough (and on Saturdays), but Prof. Helman has a way of engaging everyone in exciting discussions that make you think about things in ways you maybe hadn't before. He really cares about his students and is great at giving effective feedback so as to improve your skills. My writing has improved so much from his critiques, and I genuinely look forward to his class every week.
What advice would you give to future students of the program?
Your experience in the program is what you make of it, and I cannot encourage you enough to get involved! Getting involved with the International Relations and Politics Association (IRPA) on campus helped me immensely in my transition to NYC and in personal and professional development. It is also a ton of fun! Additionally, I recommend putting yourself out there and putting in the effort to get to know your fellow students and professors while you're here. They all have knowledge, wisdom, and diverse perspectives you can learn from.
What is your favorite place on campus?
This is the common answer, but Washington Square Park! I remember my first couple weeks in the IR program, I would sit in the park to read and would always have these moments of "I can't believe I'm here and this is my life." I honestly still have these moments, though it's no longer a new place to me. Washington Square Park is a great place to just be and take in the sights and sounds of NYC. Considering how easy it is to get swept up in busy schedules and stressful assignments, walking through the park consistently reminds me of how incredibly grateful and blessed I am to be here.
What is the best thing about living in NYC?
The best thing about living in NYC is simply the amount of things you have access to. Museums, outdoor activities, concerts, performing arts, bars, any and all food you could ever think of, etc.! There is something for everyone in NYC. You also have the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world who have all had different life experiences. That is something that truly grows you as a person and entirely impacts your perspective on life.
What are your plans after you graduate? How has this program prepared you for that?
I plan on staying in NYC after I graduate and hope to work for one of the many international organizations here in the city, hopefully focusing on international security. The IR program has prepared me for this with the many connections I've made through professional events and my internship at the United Nations. My long-term goal is to work and live abroad at some point, and I believe the experience I gain here at NYU will enable me to do so.
Last Updated March 23, 2020