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Early Experiences Inspired 2022 Robertson Fellows

August 1, 2022

While attending a high school in Kennesaw, Georgia, that specializes in international studies, Andrew Gasparini took advantage of multiple opportunities to travel abroad. The trips expanded his worldview and fueled his interest in global affairs. 

Melissa Alvisi
Andrew Gasparini

Likewise, Melissa Alvisi became interested in travel and public service before college—a mission trip to El Salvador while a high schooler in her home country, Italy, solidified her interest in seeing the world and working in public service.

Gasparini and Alvisi have just joined the ranks of incoming graduate students at the Maxwell School, pursing dual master’s degrees in public administration and international relations. Both are Robertson Foundation for Government Fellows.

Robertson awards are among the most generous and prestigious available to professional graduate students at the Maxwell School, covering full tuition for two years of study, a living stipend, health insurance and assistance in finding a summer internship. In exchange, fellows agree to work in the U.S. federal government for three of the first seven years following graduation. Since the program began in 2010, the program has funded 35 students, including Gasparini and Alvisi.

Gasparini says Maxwell is the perfect fit for his academic and career aspirations. “This is an honor. The resources available at Syracuse University, including its renowned centers, initiatives and faculty, give it a distinct appeal,” he says, adding that he was drawn to the dual M.P.A./M.A.(IR) program for its interdisciplinary focus on research design, policy analysis and management. “The dual degree option is a unique opportunity that allows its students to synergize their classroom learning with professional experience as part of their coursework while completing the program in an efficient two years.”

While studying history and political science as an undergraduate at Clemson University, Gasparini gained experience and expanded his worldview through a variety of experiences. He served as editor-in-chief of the university’s international affairs magazine, “The Pendulum” and founded the Clemson Diplomacy Club. He also traveled to Serbia to study post-conflict, post-communist societies in Belgrade and to intern at The Workshop, an educational non-governmental organization for refugees.

After he earned his degree in May 2020, Gasparini returned to his Georgia hometown to work as the assistant to the city manager. He remained involved in public and subnational diplomacy by establishing the Kennesaw Sister Cities Commission, serving on the World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s Young Leaders Executive Board and participating in the Global Ties U.S. Emerging Leaders program and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Next Gen Global Leaders Network.

After completing his studies at Maxwell, Gasparini hopes to work at the Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs.

Alvisi was born in the U.S. but raised in Italy. While in high school, she returned to the states through a study abroad program to improve her English to prepare for college—she attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland and earned a bachelor’s degree this past May.

At Cortland, Alvisi participated in the international and Spanish clubs and served in the Student Government Association, including as its chief financial officer. She also served as a delegate for SUNY Model European Union for three years, worked for the International Programs Office as an orientation assistant for international students, and was named an undergraduate research fellow for the economics department.

Alvisi additionally took advantage of a study abroad trip to Sevilla, Spain, immersing herself in the culture and gaining greater fluency in the language.

“My career goals align with the Robertson Foundation for Government, as it puts public service as a primary objective, and public service within the federal government has been my final goal after graduation,” says Alvisi, who wants to work in foreign service. She says the dual degree will “broaden my public service career goals on an international level.”

For more about the Robertson Foundation for Government, visit

By Steve Buchiere

Published in the Fall 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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