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From Small Town to Global Arena

International relations graduate student Nick Rogers has gained confidence and opportunity as he pushes beyond his comfort zone. Now he's set his sights on a career with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nick Rogers in button down and tie stands outside office building and smiles at camera
Nick Rogers was an intern last summer at Dentons, a Washington, D.C., law firm where he helped track policy developments for internal and external clients.

At the age of 16, Nick Rogers ’19, G’20 earned a spot in the Four Thousand Footer Club for hiking 48 mountains at least 4,000 feet tall. Those mountains proved to be only the first set of challenges he would conquer.

Originally from Sanbornville, New Hampshire (population 3,000), Rogers was undeterred by the fact that he grew up in a small town where few people go to college. He thought about attending a nearby state school, but he decided that wouldn’t expand his horizons. “I didn't want to attend a local university because that would be a repeat of high school.”

Rogers’ desire to expand his world view, combined with a growing demand for professionals trained in international relations, helped him find his niche. He learned about Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at a college fair and was impressed by its national reputation . Rogers chose to attend Syracuse as an undergraduate and, driven by his interest in global relations, spent his first semester as a Discovery student in Strasbourg, France . “I didn’t even set foot on campus until January of my freshman year because I didn't visit before committing to attend,” says Rogers. “It was a huge leap coming from New Hampshire to Syracuse and hoping for the best.” It turned out to be better than anything he had imagined.

Community Service Is Orange

When Rogers arrived in Syracuse as an undergraduate, he found a university that matched his values. He was interested in performing public service, so he got involved with Oxfam at Syracuse University, a chapter of the international organization that seeks to end poverty. At first he prepared food at the Meals on Wheels center, and later he was elected Oxfam at Syracuse’s campaign and organization chair.

Once he decided on international relations as his undergraduate major, Rogers served as vice president of the International Relations Club and became a member of Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society. “One thing that I've found that's really interesting about the undergraduate degree is that it gives you freedom to make what you want of it,” he says.

During his junior year, Rogers learned of an accelerated master’s program in international relations, but he was hesitant to pursue the opportunity. “I was a little apprehensive at first about whether I would be able to compete at that level because the international relations program in Maxwell is world renowned.” But Syracuse University was such a natural fit that he decided to enroll in the program. Rogers was able to take graduate courses during his senior year and spent that spring semester in Washington, D.C., as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

Syracuse’s Commitment to Veterans Influences Coursework

Rogers found his first graduate course a bit intimidating. His classmates in Professor Robert Murrett’s course on the U.S. intelligence community included an Army colonel and several other officers who had real-world experience. He recalls giving a presentation on Afghanistan to fellow students who had been actively deployed there. “Some of them had been wounded in Afghanistan, and there I was telling them what's going on in Afghanistan.”

Rogers found the veterans in the classroom to be supportive, and their first-hand experience with national security issues enriched and contextualized conversations. Syracuse University’s emphasis on serving veterans and military-connected students brought a perspective to the classroom that Rogers would not find elsewhere. Having student-veterans with global operations experience who spoke out and asked questions in class helped Rogers find his confidence. “It was a good transition starting in undergrad, because it allowed me to find my voice,” he says. “Syracuse has been the best place for me.”

Coming Full Circle and Helping Others Succeed

Today, Rogers is the graduate assistant for the same graduate course he took his senior year. His familiarity with the coursework helps tremendously as he facilitates classroom discussions and coursework. He finds it fulfilling to connect with other graduate students and help them conquer any feelings of intimidation.

Roger’s career ambition is working as a public servant within the federal government, specifically at the Department of Energy. “We take it for granted that you can go in and flip the switch and the lights come on,” he says. He relishes the challenge of elevating this often-underappreciated part of the national infrastructure. Rogers will graduate in May with his master’s in international relations, and there’s no telling what mountains he will overcome next or how high he can climb academically, professionally and personally.

Brandon Dyer

This story was published on .

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