|Current Job:||Lead for Customer Experience and GEAR Center at the Office of Management and Budget|
Amira Choueiki Boland is currently the lead for customer experience and GEAR Center at the Office of Management and Budget. Previously, she worked for the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team as an executive secretary as well as the Deputy Director for the Office of Evaluation Science at GSA.
How did Tech help you get where you are?
I did not come to Georgia Tech as a liberal arts major. I switched to Economics and International Affairs (EIA) after I had been in engineering. I was a little insecure about majoring in liberal arts at Tech, but I could not have been more wrong as I quickly discovered. Not only was I studying weapons trade and missile defense systems in the Middle East in my class, but I lived with a girl that designed rockets in her graduate lab. She could explain to me exactly how things work, which enhanced my stint in Dubai working at a Security and Defense firm. Working in D.C., I’ve found that people who went to some of the finest schools of International Affairs – Georgetown, George Washington, even Harvard and Yale, are intimidated by the deep research and quantitative study that's needed to solve and understand problems. Working in D.C. at a think-tank with multiple Ivy League political scientists, my boss (the NATO ambassador for President Reagan) shared with me that he was frustrated with people that came to D.C. and didn't know how to problem solve – today’s challenges require people who aren't afraid of the technical world and working with these people collaboratively. Georgia Tech provides you with that skillset.
What do you think differentiates a Tech graduate in the field?
The Nunn School approaches international affairs in a distinct way. The required math, lab sciences, and technology courses in the international affairs curriculum honed my problem-solving skills and challenged me in unique ways compared to my peers from other institutions. In addition, I appreciated the flexibility of the international affairs program which allowed me to design my own course of study – taking multiple semesters off to intern abroad, in D.C., and in Georgia. This truly made my experience. The Nunn School supported and encouraged students who desired to have a one-of-a-kind enriching college experience. When I was sitting in the room with other Rhodes finalists before our interview, I realized this was a common thread. Students that are able to have a multi-perspective college experience, atypical from just following a set course path, are the ones that I believe have the most fun, learn more than they could have ever expected, and are prepared for the independence and choices that come in the real world.
What advice do you have for current students?
Whenever I meet with recruits and freshmen, I always say the same thing: Georgia Tech provides an endless amount of opportunities and activities to become involved with. Life is short, and time and energy are precious: act purposefully. Every one of the things you do should hit one of the following criteria: 1) Challenge you in a new way, or teach you something that’s a new skill, 2) Be directly related to something you think you may want to do in the future, or 3) Be something you truly enjoy, have fun with, or are able to serve others. If you’re not getting one of those things out of it, your time is better spent elsewhere.