Abdullah Khurram arrived in Fairfax three years ago from his native Pakistan. He wasted no time getting to know the policy circles in his new hometown.
"The day I arrived, there was an event at the Pakistani embassy, so I put my stuff at the Mason Inn and took the next Metro out again. I started attending D.C. events, think tanks, and I was very active from day one."
His initiative has paid off, first with a research assistant position at the Middle East Institute, and by successfully completing dual degrees (in economics, and in government and international politics) in three short years. He credits his success to hard work, making connections, and time management. He also praised the willingness of his professors to work with his hectic schedule:
"I never found that a professor was not ready to help me. I was doing something different every day, going to class, to my research associate position, and you need flexibility. I never tried to take my exams late, I'd always take it early, but if I were attending a conference, they were always understanding."
He also credits his professors and particularly his advisors, Ann Ludwick at public and international affairs and Jason Dunick in economics, for guiding him through his course requirements.
"They helped me, not just as ambassadors of George Mason . . . they were taking care of my future. I felt that they were on my side."
In fall 2014, Khurram plans to start classes in international relations at the University of Chicago. Attracted by its relatively small class of master's students, he plans to eventually work towards his doctoral degree and get to work advancing the field of international relations and solving global problems.
He also hopes to share his perspective on Pakistan's foreign relations, through articles published in the Middle East Journal and through prospective speaking engagements at Columbia University, National Defence University Islamabad, Karachi University, and the Institute of Regional Studies in Pakistan.