As Elizabeth Romanoff (WLC ’08) nears the end of her time in Washington, D.C., she is busy wrapping up her work with Save the Children, a non-governmental organization that works to improve the lives of children in need.

Elizabeth RomanoffIn September, she’ll leave for the Slovak Republic where, through a Fulbright Scholarship, she’ll conduct research related to gender and women’s empowerment.

After graduating from CSUMB, she earned a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in international development management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2011.

From there, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she is currently employed as knowledge management and communications coordinator at Save the Children.

Why the Slovak Republic?

“I studied there as a high school senior,” she said. “It was my first experience living outside the country, and it pushed me to study World Languages and Cultures at CSUMB,” she said.

For those needing a geography refresher, the Slovak Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Ukraine.

She’s convinced her work at CSUMB helped her land the Fulbright.

“My capstone project was about the empowerment of Latina fieldworkers through their literature. It’s relevant to the Fulbright Scholarship because one of the methods I will use to study women’s empowerment in Slovakia is through women’s literature, so I wrote about my capstone in my Fulbright proposal,” she said. “I’m sure that made my application more competitive, as it showed I was capable of doing this type of research.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of State since 1946, the U.S. Fulbright Program is the county's flagship international educational exchange program. A small number of awardees study, teach and conduct research in more than 155 countries each year.

She’s quick to credit her degree from CSUMB for helping lay the groundwork for her success.

“The university did an excellent job of preparing me for graduate school, my career, and in applying for the Fulbright,” she said. “At CSUMB, I increased my capacity to think critically and increased my understanding of different cultures. I studied Spanish and had the opportunity to live in Mexico and China while I was an undergraduate.”

She added that the goal of the Fulbright – mutual understanding among cultures – is also one of the goals of CSUMB and MIIS, “so I felt very confident in my ability to be a Fulbright grantee. After learning about social justice, different cultures, countries and languages at CSUMB and then later at MIIS, I felt like I fit into that mold so well.

“It really described who I had become.”

When the Fulbright ends in the spring of 2013, she hopes to find another position in the field of international development.

“I want to work to improve the lives and increase the opportunities of those living in poverty around the world,” she said.

Learn more about the School of World Languages and Cultures at CSUMB.

Photo by Maureen Daniel Fura