Erin Norris
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My Story

Erin attended high school in Long Island, NY where she was involved with the Model UN team, FIRST Robotics team and the French Honor Society.  Through her experiences in Model United Nations, she realized not only the diversity of the world around her, but also how similar people are across nations.  This, combined with community volunteer work, a passion for human rights, public speaking, and learning about different cultures, helped to kick-start her ambitions to work internationally.  Erin is a combined International Affairs and Political Science major, with minors in Asian Studies, History and Japanese.

In Erin’s words, “I’ve always wanted to do something with my life that would make the world a better place.”

Here is Erin’s story…

My Path
My Path

Why International Affairs and Political Science?

Erin is fascinated with learning about a variety of places and working on issues that affect people in the United States and worldwide. She decided to pursue the International Affairs major at Northeastern because “I knew that it was what I wanted to do, wholeheartedly.”  Erin has found that Northeastern to be the perfect place to pursue this degree, as the Co-op program and Dialogues gave her the window to explore the outside world.  Northeastern allowed her the opportunities to explore Japan, South Korea, Hungary, and Serbia.

She declared Political Science her second major in her sophomore year to allow her to gain a better understanding of the political systems of all countries and look at similar issues from different angles.

Transformative Coursework

Many of the classes she has taken have left a huge impact on her.  One class that has transformed the way that she views international policy was International Conflict and Negotiation, with Professor Kimberly Jones.  “One of the major takeaways I got from the class was the importance of understanding people on both sides of any given conflict”.  Professor Jones encouraged students to be empathetic, to open their minds to the perspectives that are not their own -a lesson that any scholar of international affairs and political science should learn.

Another influential class was International Law with Professor Denise Garcia.  Extending Erin’s fascination with international law from experiences in high school Model UN, the class explained the subject matter, the various ways it could be enforced, applied and created by international actors.  She enjoyed the group discussions that Professor Garcia fostered on important legal concepts. The class solidified her interest in pursuing international law as a potential career.

Experiential Learning and Co-op Experiences

Experiential learning enabled Erin to cultivate a complex understanding of how workplaces differ from culture to culture.  Across three Co-ops, she has worked in nongovernmental organizations in Boston, Seoul Korea, and Belgrade Serbia. Her experiences range from a Boston Co-op with a focus on women’s reproductive health domestically and internationally, to Korea where she worked in Seoul for human rights for North Koreans, to Serbia researching various nonviolent movements in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Each culture brings unique challenges to the workplace and Erin feels her work will have far more impact as she becomes adept at navigating through international workplaces.

These Co-op experiences “will prepare me for work no matter which sector I choose.”

Dialogues of Civilizations

Erin has completed two Dialogues and two Co-ops, one in Boston, one in Seoul, Korea. In the summer of 2018, she is on her third Co-op in Belgrade, Serbia.

Erin’s first Dialogue of Civilizations brought her to Japan to study Japanese politics and the Olympics at Meiji University in Tokyo.  As a huge Olympic fan, she connected old passions with new ones and visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Nagano.  Erin declares that the experience was life-changing, allowed her to forge friendships with Japanese students and put her on her current path.  When she returned, she began to take Japanese language classes and declared two minors, Asian Studies and Japanese. In Erin’s words “Thanks to my dialogue, everything that I wanted to study in University came into focus, and I began to study Japanese-American relations”.

During the summer of 2018, Erin embarked on the Dialogue to Geneva, Switzerland with Professor Denise Garcia.  She studied global governance and disarmament through the context of the United Nations.  Being in the United Nations was a dream come true – she attended lectures by influential diplomats, learned about the processes of disarmament, the potential for weaponized AI and the reasons that nuclear disarmament has gone so slowly. She states, “being taught by Professor Garcia and spending a month at the United Nations was an incredibly invaluable experience”.

Civic Engagement at Northeastern

Erin is an active member in Northeastern’s International Relations Council (IRC), where she serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board.  She is a member of IRC’s competitive travel team and Head Delegate at several conferences.  Competing on the IRC’s Model UN and Model Arab League teams enable her to sharpen skills and learn more about the complex political situations in each country represented.  Erin engages in a mentorship with the younger students on the team.

In Erin’s words, “I cannot understate how much love I have for my teammates and what we do, and the amazing sense of community that I have found within Northeastern as a result of my participation on the team.”

Next Steps

After graduating in 2019, Erin hopes to return to Japan for a year to continue studying the Japanese language and culture through a fellowship or a leadership opportunity.  While there she hopes to fulfill her lifelong dream – to attend the Olympics.  She plans to apply to graduate school to study international law, focusing on conflict resolution.  Erin believes the world needs more people who are willing to try to bridge gaps across countries and hopes to become one of those people.

Erin would like the International Affairs and Political Science faculty to know that they are unparalleled in ways that are insightful, encouraging, and engaging.  In her words, “Professors have been continuously open-minded and thrilled to speak with students, and engage in our questions.  I cannot thank the faculty enough for helping to encourage my success.”