Alumni Spotlight: Kaitlyn Lynes, The HALO Trust

Name: Kaitlyn Lynes
Degree: M.A. International Affairs
Year Graduated: 2017
Career/Field: Arms Management and Destruction / Humanitarian Mine Action
Title: Regional SALW Project Development Manager
Organization: The HALO Trust

What brought you to The New School?
I already lived in New York City prior to starting with SGPIA in Spring 2015, but I was having a hard time finding a job in the international affairs field, even after a year of fieldwork for an INGO in South Africa. I knew I needed to pursue an MA to make myself more competitive, so I started looking at the different programs offered in NYC. The New School stood out to me because it taught critical theory, which I had never been introduced to in undergrad.

What was your professional and educational background before you came?
After graduating from Penn State with my bachelor’s degree in international politics, I moved to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to pursue the career I thought I wanted in international development and public health. I interned with the INGO Grassroot Soccer supporting their HIV/AIDS educational programming. After South Africa, student loan obligations led me on a detour through the aviation industry (flight attendant) and the restaurant scene, until I knew I had to obtain my MA to get back into the international affairs sector. I had written my undergraduate thesis on post-conflict disarmament in intrastate wars, so I decided to shift my focus while at SGPIA to pursue conflict, peacebuilding, and disarmament work.

What are the most important things you learned through the Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs (SGPIA)?
The way in which I see and think about the world. Prior to SGPIA, I had never been taught anything other than realist, liberal, and constructivist IR theories, and I had grown up in a predominately white, middle class Midwestern town. While I always identified as liberal, SGPIA completely shifted my perspective on international issues and the ways in which people of different backgrounds, whether race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc., interact with them.

What is your current work/position? How did SGPIA prepare you for it?
In January 2020 I am starting a position with The HALO Trust as their Regional Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Project Development Manager in the Western Balkans. I will be working to strengthen national and regional relationships and develop arms management and destruction capacity building programs to militaries and police forces in the region. More than anything, the network of students, professors, and alumni I gained from my time at SGPIA directly influenced the internships and jobs I was offered since graduating, which helped build the necessary skills to propel me to my current position.