HLS graduate student Cat Wischmeyer sets new heights
Cat Wischmeyer is earning a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree consecutively through the International Studies Integrated B.A./M.A. program at the Hamilton Lugar School and will complete both within five years. Cat earned her Bachelor of Science in International Studies focused on East Africa and Refugee Studies and is now completing her Master’s degree focused on East Africa and Terrorism.
Cat shared that her undergraduate studies allowed her to gain knowledge on world systems, institutionalized problems, and rampant issues across the globe. According to Cat, the BA/MA program teaches students to take an extra step, preparing them to think on their feet and move through inherent problems. Cat describes the methodology as momentum from foundational learning to solidifying thought processes. Instead of focusing on the issues, the program makes solutions tangible. She also credits the program for increasing students’ professional status and allowing them to widen their network opportunities.
“I’ve always been challenged at HLS which is so nice,” Cat says. “I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience here at the university and I’d recommend it to anyone. The program came at just the right time – it’s awesome. The Director [Stephen Macekura] is one of my absolute favorite people of all time. He’s accessible, the nicest human being on the face of the planet. He really makes this process so simple. And Eric Weingarten [Graduate Secretary] too. So far it’s been an incredibly positive experience.”
Cat’s thesis will delve into terrorism and forced marriage in East Africa, specifically concentrating on how the Bantu and Somalians interact with other minority groups. Her area of study and point of interest is international systems and humanitarian law. Cat’s greatest passion is humanitarianism through a sociopolitical lens, helping people in marginalized areas around the globe. She credits Elizabeth Cullen Dunn [IU Professor of Geography] as a foundational professor, providing students with the necessary information, tools, and abundant resources.
“I’ve studied International Systems overview, Humanitarian Law, History of the International Systems, and a thesis class,” Cat says. “For as long as I can remember, the only thing I wanted to do more than anything is help people. Obviously, you can do that in a lot of different ways. I was always very set on the humanitarian/political side of the equation. Professor Dunn was probably one of the biggest foundational professors in my undergraduate career because she worked in Refugee Studies. That’s where I picked up all my interests. It’s nice to have that background and move forward – hopefully, be able to enact some sort of positive, long-lasting change.”
Ultimately, Cat aspires to work in the East African sphere, bringing the region to the international stage through journalism and program analysis. Cat praises the Hamilton Lugar School for providing an enormous network of resources and career advancement opportunities. She hopes to put what she learned in the School’s BA/MA program to good use, domestically and abroad.
“I’ve cultivated my relationship with professors for over four years,” Cat says. “They know me, they know my work ethic, they know what I’m capable of academically. So, it’s much easier asking them if they’d like to be my primary thesis reader, or asking if they would like to be on my thesis panel. I already have those relationships established. As much as I’ve received a slew of new ideas in my undergrad, that’s been expanded tenfold in the year that I’ve been in my masters. You get more tangible ways to affect change in the way that you would want to.”
The Hamilton Lugar School’s Integrated B.A./M.A. program allows students currently in International Studies to pursue advanced studies and complete both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree consecutively. Students become eligible to apply to the B.A./M.A. Program during the second semester of their sophomore year. Before applying, students must consult the International Studies Academic Advisor. The Integrated B.A./M.A. program is open to International Studies majors who have:
- Demonstrated strong academic performance (GPA: 3.6 or higher in the major and 3.5 overall)
- Demonstrated a high level of maturity and clear intent to pursue a Master’s degree
- Completed at least 12 credits in the INTL major (2 core and 2 thematic electives)
- Completed General Education requirements in the semester of application