From development to technology
Jessica Hadjis never expected she’d be meeting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and working with him on promoting radio astronomy. But her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) has brought her a host of interesting opportunities.
Hadjis is now working in Brussels as a public relations officer with Intelligence in Science (ISC), an organization that collaborates with science and technology communities to build an understanding of their research and innovation activities among citizens and decision-makers. Hadjis’s role involves gaining a deep understanding of issues, interpreting them, communicating them back to stakeholders and determining what to share with the public.
ISC works closely with European Parliament, all member states within the EU and various international organizations. Hadjis has been working on projects ranging from security and intellectual properties to energy and environment, but for her the most interesting project has been the radio astronomy work (the study of celestial objects at radio frequencies) with the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP).
“It’s such a unique project,” she says. “We’re talking about some really, really advanced technology. To me, that’s interesting because I’ve never been a techy person. There are so many countries coming together to support it, so it really is the future of science in many ways.”
In particular, Hadjis has been working on communications surrounding the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. The construction of SALT was funded by a consortium of international partners from South Africa, the United States, Germany, Poland, India, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
“We’ve been working on sharing the information and also putting all these big players in touch with each other so they can work together,” Hadjis explains.
At a recent conference, she had the opportunity to meet some of these big players, including the Irish prime minister.
Before starting her job with ISC, Hadjis was completing her thesis in France. Prior to that, she was working in the field of international human rights and did some of her coursework from Mauritius, where she was an intern in the Socio-Economic Development Unit of the United Nations Development Programme. Her work with the UN included tackling gender equality issues and access to justice in Mauritius. While her job now is quite different, Hadjis says her Royal Roads experience taught her valuable skills she can use in any field.
“Royal Roads taught me life skills and skills for work that I use on a daily basis,” she says. “I learned a lot about writing – how to refine my writing skills and how to edit. That’s really what I use every day. Having a master’s is invaluable because it shows that you can complete something and you have that level of education.”
“I’m not at all surprised that Jessica continues to embrace new opportunities outside of her usual frame of reference,” says Prof. Wendy Schissel, head of the MAIS program. “As a MA Interdisciplinary Studies student, she exemplified the breadth of intellectual curiosity, humanitarian commitment, and openness to new horizons that is typical of students attracted to our program – and then some, for she did her entire degree online and living abroad!”
Now that she’s completed her degree, Hadjis says there’s a big void in her life. “It’s sad in a way that I’m done because it was such a wonderful experience. You really do feel like you know your peers, your cohort and also your professors even if you’re doing most of your master’s online. My experience was amazing. It was above and beyond what I was expecting.”