Alumni Profiles

Anna Wiersma Strauss, 2013

Anna Wiersma Strauss (’13) moved to Paris, France after graduating from Valpo to get her Master of Arts in Public Policy and International Affairs from The American University of Paris. During that time she interned for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the Latin America and the Caribbean Division of their Global Relations Secretariat and was offered a job there upon her graduation. She stayed with the OECD for 6 years, finishing as a Policy Analyst working on various aspects of the OECD’s Regional Programme with Latin America and the Caribbean. Anna is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (began in August 2020). Her research focuses on the effects that social welfare policies have on poverty, inequality, decisions about labor supply and caregiving, and various aspects of well-being (financial, consumption, health, mobility, etc.). Upon completion of her doctorate, she plans to either pursue an academic career or return to research work for international organizations/think tanks focused on social policy issues. Anna and her husband Johann (who she met at Valpo when he was an exchange student there!) were married in a small civil ceremony during March 2020 – they are excited to finally fully celebrate their wedding this summer with family and friends now that international travel is more accessible again!

Jacob Williams, 2017

Following a highly competitive application process, Valparaiso University alumnus Jacob Williams (B.A.’17) is one of 15 individuals nationwide selected by the U.S. Department of State for the notable Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship. In this two-year fellowship program, Williams will receive up to $75,000 in academic funding for a two-year IT-related master’s degree program, two summer internships, professional development and mentorship. Upon successful completion of the fellowship, he will receive an appointment in the Foreign Service as an Information Management Specialist. Born and raised in northwest Indiana, Jacob Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and global service, specializing in Middle East studies with a minor in computer science, from Valparaiso University. He studied in Arabic language programs in Jordan and Palestine, and he was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer focusing on youth development in Morocco. Williams currently serves as an Educational Technology Specialist at Valparaiso University, managing a modest student staff and providing technical support to the entire campus community. As a FAIT Fellow, Williams plans to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity and risk management policy. He speaks multiple dialects of Arabic, and his hobbies include music (both consuming and creating), cycling, exploring the world, and voicing strong opinions on all things related to the Star Wars universe. “There is no better way to enter government service while honoring the experiences that forced my individual growth and helped develop the skills that I have built over the years,” says Williams. “I’m honored to be selected as a FAIT Fellow and believe this opportunity will serve as the most fulfilling way of manifesting the path forward towards my ambitions.”

Carlos Cabaya
Carlos Cabaya

After graduating from Valpo, I leveraged my Political Science major to the corporate financial and accounting environment. Currently, as a financial analyst, I support directors and executives with FP&A activities through analysis of P&Ls, budget variances, and hedging, providing ad-hoc reporting. In addition, I have returned to obtain my Master’s in Business Administration. Having a broad liberal arts education helped me think critically and analytically, and while I am still early in my career I am excited to see where my two degrees take me. Outside of work and school, I enjoy exploring Chicago, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.