When Christine Shepherd (BBA ’05) picked up the phone in her Somerville, Mass., apartment in the fall of 2010, the newly enrolled graduate student at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy sounded older and wiser than the person I’d interviewed earlier this year in Paris.
Then, she was an MBA candidate at the renowned HEC (Hautes Études Commerciales) School of Management. A year in Paris can have a profound effect on anyone. And shortly after earning her diploma from HEC, Shepherd was off to earthquake–ravaged Haiti, where she spent the summer volunteering with a non–governmental agency to help the local citizenry revitalize the country by improving their communication and IT skills.
That stint completed, Shepherd is now honing her skills and testing her mettle with yet another challenge. Tufts’ Fletcher School is the oldest school in the U.S. dedicated solely to graduate studies in international relations. And it is the only non–law school in the country, other than Johns Hopkins, that competes in the annual Jessup International Law Moot Corp Competition. Fletcher won the 2006 regional competition, besting law school teams from Harvard, Cornell, and Syracuse.
Tufts is the perfect next step for Christine Shepherd, who is always widening her horizons by adding new academic degrees, new international experiences, and new skill sets to a sparkling and far-reaching resume that sounds like it ought to belong to someone twice her age.
Shepherd, 27, is a dedicated athlete who captained the cross country team at UGA. She’s a gifted student who blazed through Terry’s international business major, impressing faculty members with both her intelligence and her bubbly, optimistic personality. Her French connection was initiated by a post–UGA stint as an au pair in Paris. While there, she was asked to intern in the D.C. office of UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security. On assignment for CITS, she traveled to Moscow for a Nuclear Security Culture conference, which prompted her to write a paper on anti-terrorism legislation. While in Russia, she made connections with the staff of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (BBA ’66), which led to a subsequent position as a staff assistant for Chambliss in Washington. From there, Shepherd became a point person for a D.C.–based consulting firm specializing in public affairs, business, and technology. She also found time to create an NGO dedicated to education in Africa, followed by an events coordinator position for the Brookings Institution, which is arguably the most influential think tank in the U.S.
What sounds dizzying to most people is just the normal pace of life for Christine Shepherd.
“If you take one unorthodox step, it encourages the next, and so on,’ she says. “And I believe that one of the reasons I’ve been able to progress in this way is because of experiences I had in Athens. I was a business student, but I also took courses at CITS—and I recognized a need to, as Socrates said, ‘Know thyself.’ It seems easy, but at times it can be hard.”
Recognizing that this was unmistakably a young woman on the way up, Bloomberg BusinessWeek asked Shepherd to become one of their featured MBA journal writer—an assignment that she began at HEC and is continuing now that she is in the second year of a joint HEC–Tufts program that will enable her to receive two master’s degrees—the MBA she earned at HEC and a Master of Arts in law and diplomacy from Tufts—in the span of just two years.
“I chose Christine among my picks for MBA journal writers because her story was similar to many others, in that she wanted to better herself,” says Francesca Di Meglio, who oversees MBA journalists for BusinessWeek. “On the other hand, she was intriguing . . . she was different from many other American applicants. She wanted an international experience in France. And, she was nontraditional. She went from being an au pair to becoming an MBA. Not many people follow that course in their careers.”